Friday, April 18, 2008

We need some clear thinking on plastic bags - Part 2

What planet are our politicians inhabiting?

Here's Queensland Premier Anna Bligh on plastic bags, as reported by the Brisbane Times:

Queensland will oppose a levy on plastic bags at tomorrow's meeting of federal and state environment ministers. Premier Anna Bligh today told state parliament the levy would be another impost on families already struggling to meet rising household costs.

"Queensland does remain committed to completely phasing out non-biodegradable plastic bags," Ms Bligh said. "In this government's ongoing fight to protect our environment, Queensland will push for a total ban on non-biodegradable plastic bags..."


Let me get this right. Putting a 10c levy on plastic bags would hit struggling families too hard, so we'll just ban the things altogether? Well I admit there is a certain logic to that. Maybe we could apply that to petrol too when the emissions trading scheme comes in?
My government understands that effective action on climate change requires an
immediate and substantial reduction in fuel use. However, placing a carbon price on fuels would be another impost on families already struggling to meet rising household costs. My government will not take steps that hurts families. Accordingly, we will push for a ban on petrol use from next year.

Hmm, maybe not.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett doesn't seem to have much in the way of solutions:
"I think all Australians really want to see much less use of these ... plastic bags we get at the check-out and when we sit down with the states today we've got to come up with something which is nationally consistent, which doesn't impose additional costs on families, and which starts to see much less of these bags ending up in the litter stream."

Sounds great Peter. And that something would be?

Meanwhile, the opposition's well-thought-through policy is to hope the problem just fixes itself:
"It's extremely important that we move to biodegradeble bags as quickly as possible," [opposition spokesman Greg Hunt] said. "We need to decrease the number of bags, but let's not ban them or put a levy on families that are doing it tough."

Yeah, we urgently need this serious problem to end but, given the pressures facing struggling families, we must be particularly careful not to do anything that might help fix it.

I'd love to hear Greg Hunt on fighting inflation:
It's extremely important that we reduce inflation as quickly as possible. I call on the Reserve Bank and government to do everything in their power to restrain demand - other than raising interest rates, increasing taxes or reducing spending at a time when families are doing it tough.

Victoria and South Australia have announed that they'll go ahead with a levy (starting with a pilot) and ban respectively.

Australians currently use some 40 billion plastic bags a year. Leaders who suggest that we can motivate a big change in people's behaviour in a completely painless way are lying to us. Let's be honest, there will be costs. The question is, are those costs worth the environmental benefits? If plastic bags are the serious problem that all these leaders say they are, then the answer is clearly yes. It then just remains to choose the option that has the greatest impact at least cost. For my money, that's a modest levy.

4 comments:

Crazy Mumma said...

Thanks, I needed a laugh, and all those ridiculous quotes certainly provided it! Sigh. Aldi Supermarkets have always charged a 15c levy for all plastic bags, and given that it provides the cheapest groceries, it has a big clientele in my local area. Not once have I ever heard anyone complain about being charged for plastic bags (or being charged a levy for using a credit card there for that matter) - they simply don't use them. They either use green bags or cardbaord boxes. Given that a large percentage of the people shopping at Aldi are likely to be from the same "struggling familes" the various governments are worried about levying, I find their arguments both frustating and non-sensical!

Anonymous said...

Now there is an better alternative to levying and reusable canvas bags for those who forgets their canvas bag at home or in the car which is called "BIOPLAST Biodegradable Plastics."

BIOPLAST is a manufacturing company of BIOPLAST Branded Biodegradable Garbage Bags for the household markets and for the industry as well as Biodegradable Carrier Bags for the retail sector using their own patented unique formula of bacteria enzyme base substrate as against starch base as used by other manufacturers world over which is not as strong or durable as polymer (plastic) bags and has a cost addition of 300%-400%. Also starch based products can comprise of genetically modified crops (GM Crops).

This is the only biotechnology in the world using bacteria enzyme base substrate which is completely biodegradable within 6 months after disposal as per ASTM-D 5988-1996 and EN 13432:2000/ISO 14855 standards with the lowest cost addition of 15%-20%.

BIOPLAST biodegradable products are also compostable and hence enhancing the nutritive value of the remaining soil. All the ingredients of BIOPLAST biodegradable plastic products are food grade and non-toxic in nature which are suitable to have contact with food products.

BIOPLAST believes that this great innovation will go a long way in preserving the ecological balance around the world which has brought intelligent and affordable solution to the disposal of polyethylene plastic waste problem worldwide.

Now the local and central Governments must force all the retailers around the world ONLY to use Biodegradable bags in their stores which will be the evidence of their sincere concern for the environment and their commitment to tackling the considerable problem of plastic bag waste and the polution.

"NOW THE FUTURE IS IN OUR HANDS FOR ALL THE NEW GENERATIONS."


www.bioplast.com.tr

Anonymous said...

IT's just bags what about the real real problem reusable energy like the new ford hydropowered car looks like taurus runs like a mustang with new mustang parts

adrian2514 said...

Thanks for the info….I am trying to put together a list of what celebs are doing to help the environment. Ed Begley Jr. is having a sweepstakes where he flys you to Hollywood and gives you tips on how to go green ( http://www.earthlab.com/life/livingwithed/ ) Pretty crazy stuff. Obviously there are many others. Drop me a link if you have any on the top of your head. Thanks again for the info!