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Clean Up Australia

Joint Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp
Clean Up Australia Chairman
Mr Ian Kiernan AO

14 March 2003

New Survey Rates Our Plastic Bag Performance

A new national snapshot of Australian attitudes to plastic shopping bag usage shows more Australians are willing to make an effort to recycle and use alternatives, but we still have some way to go to achieve plastic bag reduction targets, Federal Environment Minister, Dr David Kemp, said today.

The Newspoll survey of residents in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth asked them to rate how likely they are to refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle plastic shopping bags, as well as the impact of shopping bags on the environment.

The survey was conducted in February this year, ahead of the national plastic bag month of action - Bag Yourself A Better Environment - with results based on a sample of 700 respondents.

"The survey shows 52.7% of respondents are likely to refuse plastic bags offered to them at supermarkets and 12% more or 39.8% are choosing to use an alternative such as a calico or string bag than in the previous survey conducted in 2001," Dr Kemp said.

"It also showed a 9% jump to 44.7% in the number of people who say they are likely to recycle bags at a recycling facility.

"These are very encouraging results which show more people, since the Federal Government and Clean Up Australia initiated the first Bag Yourself A Better Environment campaign in 2001, are putting plastic bag messages into practice and are making a concerted effort to ensure their bags do not become an environmental nuisance."

Last December, Environment Ministers asked retailers and the community to work towards a number of plastic bag targets, including cutting plastic bag litter by 75%, achieving a 50% rate of recycling and a 50% reduction in the number of plastic bags used by the end of 2004.

The Newspoll survey also found men and women were almost equal on plastic bag performance, with 50.2% of males and 55% of females likely to consider taking action on bags.

Among the age groups, 35-49 year olds are the most responsible with 56% likely to take action on plastic bags, slightly ahead of the 25-34 year olds (55.8%) and the 50 plus age group (50.8%). Only 45.6% of 18-24 year olds are likely to consider taking action on plastic bags.

Around the capital cities, Melbournians are the best performers with 57.9% likely to take action on bags, while those in Brisbane are least likely at 46.8%. For the other capitals, 49.4% of Sydneysiders are likely to take action, 54.4% in Adelaide and 54.7% of people from Perth.

"These results show Australians are beginning to understand that improving our plastic bag habits involves taking action every day," Clean Up Australia Chairman and Founder, Ian Kiernan AO, said.

"While this response is good, these figures need to be better if we are to achieve the 50% challenge. Clean Up will be monitoring these figures as the Bag Yourself A Better Environment month of action continues throughout March."

For more information on Bag Yourself A Better Environment, visit the website or call 1800 024 890

Media Contact:
Catherine Job (Dr Kemp's office) 02 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400 or
Kath Logan (Clean Up Australia) 02 9692 1205 or 0416 083 884

Commonwealth of Australia