Victoria bans single-use plastic bags
Single-use plastic bags are banned in Victoria. Here’s everything you need to know.
As of 1 November, single-use plastic bags are banned in Victoria. The state-wide bag ban applies to all lightweight plastic shopping bags with a thickness of 35 microns or less, and includes bags made from all types of plastic, including degradable, biodegradable and compostible plastics.
Though major supermarkets started phasing out free, single-use plastic bags in June 2018, as of today, all retailers – including independent supermarkets, greengrocers, bakeries, pharmacies, clothing stores, restaurants, cafes, markets, takeaway food outlets and many more – will need to find alternative packing and carrying solutions.
“This ban will slash waste, reduce litter and help protect marine life in Victoria’s pristine waters,” says Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio. “We’ve been working closely with businesses to plan for the ban – to help them to play their part in protecting our environment.”
The legislation came after the Victorian government received an overwhelming response during community consultation on plastic pollution.
“An overwhelming 96 per cent of Victorians are in favour of banning single-use plastic bags and we’ve delivered,” she says.
Here’s everything you need to know about shopping in Victoria in the Post Plastic Ban Era, plus how to bid farewell to single-use plastic bags for good.
Small businesses will need to find alternatives to single-use plastics for packing and carrying.
How to use less plastic in three easy steps
Avoid buying things that come in plastic
Rather than going, ‘oh my god, how can I get rid of all this plastic’, Sustainability Victoria spokeswoman Katie Pahlow says it’s better to think about how plastic is coming into the house in the first place. “So much of what we buy is pre-packaged,” she says. “So the first place to start is to avoid buying things that come in plastic.”
That can be as simple as swapping your bottle of milk for a carton, choosing laundry detergents that come in a box or scooping nuts from the pick-and-mix area into your own reusable bag.
Learn how to recycle properly
One of the big issues when it comes to recycling plastics is that consumers often get it wrong. There is a misconception, Katie says, that plastics will get sorted at the facility, but this isn’t true. Throwing the wrong kinds of plastics in the recycling bin means you’re contaminating everything else, so it’s all sent to landfill.
“It’s critical to dispose of plastic in a way that it actually gets recycled,” Katie explains. “The main thing to think about is whether or not it is hard or soft plastic. Your recycling bin is primarily for hard plastics; think Tim Tam trays or shampoo bottles.”
Soft plastics, on the other hand, require specific treatment. “There are RedCycle bins out the front of the supermarket for all your soft plastics. That includes plastic wrap, chip packets and plastic bags. Basically, if you can scrunch it up and it stays that way, you can’t put it in your regular recycle bin.”
Get out of the single-use mindset
As well as opting for foods that don’t come in plastic, choosing more sustainable products is also important. We’re talking coffee cups, drink bottles, straws and lunchboxes. “When you’re out and about or travelling, it can often be easier to just buy a bottle of water or use disposable cutlery,” Sarah says. “But small changes like bringing a reusable bottle for water, keep cups for coffee and even remembering to bring your reusable shopping bags make a huge difference.”