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Media Release
Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage
The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP

17 April 2003

Minister Launches Sturdy Supermarket Bag

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today commended the initiative of 150 independent supermarkets on the eastern seaboard that will introduce a sturdy new recyclable plastic bag to help minimise the impact of plastic bags on the environment.

Launching the Bag For Life program at FoodWorks Cellars in Beaumaris, Victoria, Dr Kemp said the 100 per cent recyclable plastic bag is stronger and more durable than the singlet bag widely available in Australian supermarkets, and can be used many times before being recycled.

"Each year in Australia, shoppers take home more than 6.9 billion carry bags, with many of these being used only once. Up to 80 million of these then blow onto streets, parks, and waterways where they can cause significant harm to wildlife in our rivers and oceans," Dr Kemp said.

"Stores such as FoodWorks must be congratulated for taking the initiative on plastic bags and helping to tackle this growing environmental problem, while contributing to a more sustainable industry in Australia."

The FoodWorks supermarket bag features a colourful design and includes a bottom gusset and sturdy handles to promote its continued use. Recycling bins are available at the FoodWorks store so when the bag reaches the end of its life cycle, the material can be used to make a new product.

The launch of the 'Bag For Life' follows the success of the national plastic bag awareness campaign, Bag Yourself A Better Environment, held in March. The campaign, initiated by the Federal Government and Clean Up Australia, encouraged people to do more to refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags.

"The results of the campaign are still being finalised, but there was a great response from local councils, supermarkets, schools and community groups right around Australia," Dr Kemp said.

"An impressive array of plastic bag reduction activities were undertaken from setting up plastic bag-free lanes at supermarkets, to promoting plastic bag alternatives, bulk bag collection and improved recycling, as well as litter audits. The results of the campaign will be released shortly and we hope to build on this momentum and further improve our plastic bag habits."

Dr Kemp said although more people are taking responsibility for plastic bags, a great deal more needs to be done to meet national plastic bag reduction targets.

In December last year, Environment Ministers set a goal for the community to reduce plastic bag litter by 75 per cent by the end of 2004. They also challenged retailers to reduce their customers plastic bag use by 50 per cent and increase recycling by 50 per cent.

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

Commonwealth of Australia