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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

13 November 2002

Plastic Bag Action Taking Shape


The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today welcomed the progress being made to develop a national response to plastic bag waste.

Following separate meetings of the national plastic bags working group and the National Packaging Covenant Council in Canberra, Dr Kemp said it was pleasing to see such a strong community-wide commitment to this environmental problem.

“Governments, industry, retail, environmental and consumer groups are combining their expertise and knowledge to ensure thorough investigation and analysis of all aspects to this complex issue,” Dr Kemp said.

“With Australians using more than 6 billion plastic bags a year and no conclusive evidence about the environmental impact of degradable plastic, there are many complex issues to consider.

“This important groundwork will help answer many questions on plastic bag waste and ensure Environment Ministers are well placed to decide on a suitable action plan.”

Working groups were convened by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council of Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers last month, to advise governments on the issues surrounding plastic bag use in Australia.

The groups comprise representatives of the Commonwealth, State Environment Protection Agencies and local government, as well as the Australian Retailers Association, Coles Myer, Woolworths, the Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association, the Packaging Council of Australia, Clean Up Australia, Planet Ark and the CEPA Trust.

At today’s working group meeting, a series of progress reports were presented. These ranged from work on a national retailers code of practice for carry bags, costs and benefits associated with the use of alternative bags, examination of the impacts of degradable bags on the environment, identification of all levy and policy options and their costs and benefits, as well as recycling issues surrounding plastic bags.

Participants were also briefed on the effectiveness of measures overseas and the extent of plastic bag usage in Australia.

“The National Covenant Council will consider the findings of each of these reports later this month and then present a comprehensive package of recommendations to governments in December,” Dr Kemp said.

“I look forward to receiving the final report so we can effectively tackle this problem and reduce the impact of plastic waste on the environment.”

Media contact:
Catherine Job Dr Kemp’s office (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400


National Packaging Covenant Council
National Working Group on Plastic Bags

MEDIA STATEMENT

13 November 2002

The second meeting of the National Working Group on Plastic Bags, convened by the Environment Protection and Heritage Council (EPHC), was held today in Canberra.

The meeting received progress reports from three subgroups set up last month to investigate a range of issues associated with the use of plastic carry bags.

Participants were also briefed on the analysis being undertaken by consultants Nolan ITU on the effectiveness of measures adopted overseas, the life cycle impacts of alternatives to plastic carry bags and the extent of plastic carry bag use in Australia.

The Chair of the Working Group congratulated subgroups on the standard of papers presented for consideration. She acknowledged the hard work put in to developing such comprehensive papers in the short period of time since the last meeting.

The Chair particularly welcomed the following aspects of work being undertaken by the subgroups:

The Working Group is expected to submit its final report to the National Packaging Covenant by late November. The Council will then submit a range of well-considered options to Ministers for their consideration in mid-December.

Media contacts:
Anthea Tinney, Chair of Working Group 02 6274 1076 or 0418 624 847
Bob Beynon, Chair of the National Packaging Council 0412 345 484

Commonwealth of Australia