The State Parliament unanimously passed new laws to ban single-use plastic bags in Queensland from July 2018. The new laws also include a refund scheme in which people will be eligible for a 10-cent refund when they return most beverage containers ranging from 150ml to 3 liters to any of the designated container refund points.
Stores traditionally freely give lightweight plastic bags customers, as it is a hygienic and cheap way of transporting purchased items. The problems associated with this popular method is that it includes the use non-renewable resources like coal, crude oil, and gas, leads to disposal challenges as well as adverse environmental impacts. People use a single-use plastic bag for just 12 minutes on average but then stay for a thousand years before it decomposes fully.
Queensland’s environment minister, Steven Miles, explain the overwhelming community call to stop the huge loads of plastic shopping bags and beverage containers from entering our waterways and the sea. It is estimated that people in Queensland use over 1bn lightweight plastic bags and 2.4bn drinking containers every year. Most of these wastes are not recycled, and they find their way into water bodies where they kill and maim thousands of our native animals.
Coles and Woolworths, the two largest supermarket chains in Australia, had vowed to phase out the use of lightweight plastic bags and promised to replace them with reusable bags by July 2018. Dr. Miles praised their voluntary commitment to take their community and environmental responsibility seriously. It indeed takes courage for a company to propose it on its own and then use massive resources on implementing it. He noted the move as a sign that both the sellers and users will broadly support the ban. The ban has worked in several places like the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and it has attracted overwhelming majority support in those regions.
Furthermore, the minister predicted the container refund scheme to enrich the job market by creating new jobs and charities. For instance, not-for-profit organizations such as clubs, sporting and charities can collect more revenue through this scheme.
Miles further explained how technology makes it easy for people to get cash from the rubbish. The government will avail reverse vending machine all across the state. This latest technology is easy to use and provide people with instance refunds. In fact, he confirmed that they were installing the first machine at parliament.