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Minister for the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts 2001-2004

The Hon Dr David Kemp, MP



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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

29 March 2004

Say 'NO' to plastic bags

Australia's Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Dr David Kemp, today joined Clean Up Australia's Chairman and Founder, Ian Kiernan AO, on Sydney's Darling Harbour to launch the 'Say NO to plastic bags' campaign, urging retailers and consumers to cut back on plastic bag use.

"I'm pleased to join Clean Up Australia's 'Say NO to plastic bags' campaign that has been supported by a $40,000 Natural Heritage Trust grant. It's a real call to action for all Australians to slash our plastic bag habit," Dr Kemp said.

"This campaign provides a kit for retailers to help them encourage consumers to use fewer plastic bags, and reminders for shoppers to stop using plastic bags or to consider alternatives.

"Plastic bags are one of the most damaging forms of litter, blocking our drains and creeks or emptying into the sea where they maim our marine wildlife. Many plastic bags end up in landfill each year and can take up to 1,000 years to break down.

"The major supermarkets have already cut plastic bags by 200 million in the past year, or approximately 12 per cent. This demonstrates that the voluntary approach to reducing plastic bags is really working, and is vital in changing attitudes and behaviour long-term.

"But we still need to do more - Australians were using 6.9 billion new plastic shopping bags every year, almost half of them from stores other than supermarkets.

"We've started working with industry associations to get newsagents, clothing stores, booksellers and pharmacies on board. I've also called on the fast food industry to join the 90 per cent of retailers who have already signed up to the voluntary Retailers' Code of Practice. This commits them to a 25 per cent reduction in plastic bags by the end of this year - a target that we're well on track to meeting.

"As well as support from the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust, I'm delighted to see Clean Up Australia's 'Say NO to plastic bags' campaign has the backing of the Australian Retailers Association as well as many retailers.

"2004 is the Year of the Built Environment, and it's an ideal time for all of us to refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle. Whenever possible, say NO to plastic bags."

For more information on plastics in the environment, visit or for details on Clean Up Australia's 'Say NO to plastic bags' campaign visit

Commonwealth of Australia