The Plastic Bag Bans which have been legislated in South Australia, NT, ACT and Tasmania have been linked to food poisoning related death in a US study which tracked the increased prevalence of death and emergency room visits in Californian cities where Plastic Bag Bans had been introduced. It was found that deaths and ER visits increased by up to 50% in San Francisco after the Plastic Bag Ban was introduced.
The study showed that shoppers typically did not wash reusable grocery bags, and often stored them in car boots, resulting in the growth of bacteria. “If individuals fail to clean their reusable bags, these bacteria may lead to contamination of the food transported in the bags. Such contamination has the potential to lead to health problems and even death,” the paper states.
The research was undertaken by Professor Jonathan Klick and Professor Joshua Wright, and is titled Grocery Bag Bans and Foodborne Illness. The abstract of the research study states:
Further details regarding the Plastic Bag Ban in Tasmania.
Minor Assessment Statement is available for public comment until 13 February 2013
Free promotion resources available for retailers from April 2013
The proposed legislation is expected to be introduced in April 2013
The proposed ban is expected to come into full effect in late 2013
More details can be found here:
Similar to the law in South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT, it appears that the Tasmanian state government will also follow suit in implementing restrictions on certain kinds of plastic bags. The date in which the legislation comes into force is not yet confirmed, but appears to be around late 2013. Despite contradictory evidence as to their effectiveness, plastic bag bans are a popular legislative option for a government to "appear green."
More details can be found here:
In November 2011, the ACT followed the legislative precedent set by the South Australian government in implementing a ban on plastic singlet bags. Providing bags thinner than 35 Microns became illegal. What was the result of this ban? The message from Cole's head of communications, Mr. Jon Church was not a surprise.
''Wherever plastic bag bans have been introduced, we see an increase in sales of bin liners as customers no longer have single-use carrier bags available which many households use for disposing of their waste. It is well reported that following the South Australian ban, sales of bin liners across all retailers doubled,'' Mr Church said. ''Sales of kitchen bin liners in the ACT increased by 29 per cent following the carrier bag ban.''
This mirrors experiences of similar ban throughout the world. Sales of Bin Liners skyrocket! What else is one meant to use as a kitchen garbage bag at home?
Not surprisingly, some policitician can identify the added burden and cost to families.
Liberal MLA Alistair Coe said the figures called the Government's reasons for the ban into question.
''It goes to show that the plastic bag ban is putting an extra cost on the weekly bills of Canberra families, but in addition to that, it shows that the consumption of plastic bags is perhaps remaining steady,'' he said.
I wonder what they would think if they read the UK's 2011 Environment Agency report which concluded that HDPE Singlet bags "had the lowest environmental impacts of the single use options in nine out of ten catagories".
Most people in Australia will be aware of the Plastic Bag Ban which is in various states of effectiveness in South Australia, Northern Territory and the ACT. The Plastic Bag Ban makes exceptions for Compostable Bags which are compliant with Australian Standard AS4736 - 2006. This standard is for "Biodegradable plastics suitable for composting". This means that Compostable Bags are allowed, where Degradable Bags are not. The question that many people ask is WHY ??? Well, for the answer to this - we need to look at the AS4736 - 2006 standard, to see how they define compostability. In order for a something to be "compostable", the following 4 criteria must be met:
Now the only difference between Compostable Bags and Degradable Bags is with criteria number 2. A Degradable Bag will biodegrade slower than a Compostable Bag in a commercial composting environment. But is the rapid degradation speed in the standard fair? Biodegradation in 180 days is pretty fast. Even some natural items such as leaves can take as long as 1 -2 years to break down! Even a leaf isn't considered "compostable" by the standard - how appropriate can the standard really be? If the objective of the plastic bag ban is to reduce plastic bag litter, then the exemption of AS4736 - 2006 Compostable bags - at the exclusion of degradable bags is actually counter intuitive and wrong.
With some states legislating for a "plastic bag ban" - several national retailers have sought alternatives to the humble plastic singlet bag. Most alternatives revolve around bags manufactured from other materials. The below list gives an idea of the approximate costs associated with alternate materials in comparison to plastic singlet bags.
Maxpak can supply all of the alternatives mentioned above.
There was an interesting article in the Herald Sun this past week which highlights some of the falsehoods that had been bandied around by various politicians in trying to justify the need for a Plastic Bag Ban - as well as highlighting the increase in sales of bin liners, garbage bags and kitchen tidy liners as a result of the South Australian Ban on Plastic Bags.
But remember the horror stories we were told to justify a ban or surcharge? Take Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett's scares. We had "Four billion plastic bags floating around Australia's environment", he said. False. Of all those bags we used each year, just 0.8 per cent became litter. On Garrett burbled. A beached whale in France "had 800 kilos worth of plastic bags and rubbish inside it". False. It had swallowed just two bags, and the rubbish in its gut weighed just 800 grams. The Rann Government was as reckless. Its Zero Waste website claimed a Newfoundland study found plastic bags killed more than 100,000 marine mammals every year. What a popular scare that was. Planet Ark used it, and a Senate environmental committee inquiry in 2002 believed it. But as a Productivity Commission report in 2006 confirmed, this claim was false, too. The Newfoundland study in fact said up to 100,000 animals a year might be killed or injured by discarded fishing nets and lines. It didn't mention plastic bags at all. Indeed, the commission said claims that plastic bags injured lots of animals weren't backed up with any evidence, and the "actual numbers of animals killed or injured ... is obviously nearly impossible to determine". Moreover, "the case for proceeding with the phase out of plastic bags appears particularly weak", and "the benefits ... would be significantly outweighed by the costs". Why not simply clean up the litter? In fact, the commission warned, a ban might not even work. Lots of shoppers who used free shopping bags for bin liners and to carry stuff "are likely to purchase more plastic garbage bags at additional financial cost".
Plastic Bag Ban? What a load of Rubbish!
Now this is hardly shocking news - if the SA Government paid attention to overseas examples (E.g. Ireland), then they would have easily been able to foresee this result - that plastic bag bans result in increased bin liner usage.
It will be interesting to see if there is a change in policy, should there be a change in Government at the next South Australian state election - as the Coalition opposition had described the policy as "tokenistic".
According to the Adelaide Now newspaper: "BIN liner sales in SA have doubled since free plastic shopping bags were banned more than two years ago. And most bin bags are made of thicker plastic than traditional bags, which means they take longer to break down in the environment. Woolworths says SA sales of plastic kitchen-tidy bags of a similar size, capacity and shape to single-use plastic shopping bags, are now double the national average.At Coles, sales of kitchen tidy bags increased 40 per cent in the year following the ban in May 2009. Bin bag manufacturer Glad reported a 52.5 per cent jump in kitchen-tidy bag sales in the first year of the ban, compared with a 5.5 per cent increase nationally… In 2009, South Australia led the nation with a ban on lightweight, checkout-style plastic bags."
A problematic effect of the Plastic Bag Ban in various states of Australia, are reports that Compostable Bags (AS4736 Compliant) have had problems acutally degrading in compostable environments - As reported by the City of Monash in Victoria: Although the bags will break down into organic material eventually, they do not break down quickly enough for the green waste processing equipment to handle. And also, a report from the City of Maroondah in Victoria: Maroondah Council has asked residents not to put so-called compostable bags in garden waste bins. Mayor Peter Gurr said the bags "often failed to breakdown as promised" and posed a risk of contamination and increased processing costs. Acting chief executive officer Vern Steele said the cornstarch-based bags were "just not compatible" with available composting systems. Also compounding the problem are instances of companies engaging in misleading, deceptive and fraudulent conduct: From at least May 2009 it was claimed that 'Goody' branded plastic bags were biodegradable and compostable in accordance with the Australian Standard* and that they could be legally supplied in South Australia, when this was not the case as the bags:
These examples of rorts and non performance, really call into question the wisdom of Government's legislating for an "environmental winner."
At this time, in South Australia and the Northern Territory a plastic bag ban is in effect. The ACT will soon follow in November 2011. Plastic bags which are prohibited must meet the following 3 criteria: Which bags will be banned? The ban will prohibit retailers from selling or giving away
What about bags with '100% degradable' printed on them? Only compostable bags that comply with Australian Standard AS4736-2006 will be permitted. They are not made from polyethylene, but usually a starch compound - and are usually quite expensive (approximately 7 times the price.) Be careful about suppliers misrepresenting products as AS 4736 compliant. The ACCC has already taken action against companies engaging in misleading conduct regarding the representation of compostable bags. (eg: The Federal Court in Adelaide has declared that Goody Environment Pty Ltd engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct and made false representations about 'Goody' branded plastic bags.)
What are the penalties?
If a supplier provides a retailer with bags they know are banned, they will be guilty of an offence from 4 May 2009. Maximum penalty: $20,000 Retailers will face on-the-spot fines of $315 or a maximum fine of $5000 for breaching the ban. Transitional arrangements. During transitional periods into the full ban, retailers are usually permitted to continue using normal plastic bags - on the condition that they also offer an alternative in the store. The alternative may be offered to their customers at a price or for free - it is up to the retailer. Check your local authorities to be certain. Maxpak has a range of solutions for companies who face restrictions due to the Plastic Bag Ban. Please contact us, and we can consult with you to find the best solution for you.
Packaging, Environment and Legislation Observations from Maxpak
Environmental Packaging, Plastic Bags, Paper Bags, Shopping Bags, Cleaning Wipes & Products, Garbage Bags & Liners, Packaging & Cleaning Products