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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

22 March 2005

Road map towards zero plastic bag use by 2008


At a meeting of industry and environment groups at Parliament House today, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell welcomed a set of draft principles to phase out plastic bag use by the end of 2008.

Convening the second roundtable on plastic bags, the Minister said a set of principles would be drawn up in conjunction with industry by 22 June and that retailers would then be encouraged to sign up.

Retailers who signed on to the principles seeking a phase-out of plastic bags by 2008 would be publicly recognised for their commitment.

"Today, we heard of a lot of good work being done, including the work of Clean Up Australia and Planet Ark to build community and retailer awareness.

"The proposed agreement that came out of the meeting today should be seen as part of the road map that will take us towards zero plastic bag use.

"Publishing the agreement together with a list of signatories will ensure that consumers know when they go shopping exactly which retailers have signed up and are working with the Government to get rid of plastic bags.

"We also discussed the need to let retailers know of the financial benefits of making the switch away from plastic bags - benefits that come from the cost saving of providing plastic bags and profits from selling re-usable bags near the checkouts.

"Overall, I was encouraged by the good results being achieved by many retailers. But Planet Ark's study released today shows that many more retailers still need to engage with the phase out program.

"The study found that many small businesses are not linked into any association and this is making it very difficult to get the message through."

Senator Campbell again congratulated major supermarkets for the significant action they have taken to reduce plastic bags in the last 12 months.

"A report this month by Nolan ITU found that Australians have reduced plastic bag use by around 21 per cent since 2002, with supermarkets reducing their use of lightweight plastic bags by 25 per cent," Senator Campbell said.

"The commitment of these supermarkets and other retail outlets such as Bunnings and Ikea in reducing plastic bags provides an example that all retailers should follow."

Further information on the Government's approach to plastic bags is available on www.deh.gov.au/industry/waste/plastic-bags

Media Contact:
Senator Campbell's office: Renae Stoikos (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia