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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
10 November 2005
Every Australian could give a lasting Christmas present to the environment by refusing to accept one plastic bag a day until the end of the year, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said today.
"That’s almost one billion fewer plastic bags to damage our environment and a great start for 2006," Senator Campbell said at a roundtable meeting of small retailers in Canberra today.
"One bag less every time we shop, particularly during the busy Christmas period – or better still, no plastic bags at all.
"We would then reach the target set by Australian, state and territory governments and industry in 2002 to halve plastic bag use by the end of this year.
"I am also urging all retailers to ask their staff to encourage shoppers to take up the challenge by asking them whether they really do need a plastic bag with every purchase. Enormous gains can be made by asking a simple question."
Senator Campbell said supermarket shoppers had been steadily reducing their use of plastic bags, cutting back by more than a third at the end of June.
But he said a Planet Ark study had shown that although smaller retailers such as the local corner shop, newsagent, bookstore and grocery shop were enthusiastic and supportive, they were struggling to make further reductions to their plastic bag use.
"I am pleased today to offer smaller retailers a helping hand – a new Plastic Bags Reduction Toolkit to help them cut their use of plastic bags," he said.
"The Australian Government, Clean Up Australia and the Australian Retailers Association have developed this toolkit that includes a web site, helpline and printed materials to give small retailers the practical assistance they need."
Senator Campbell said the toolkit included:
"All small retailers need to do is get online, pick up the phone or request written toolkit information so they can do their bit to help the environment," Senator Campbell said.
"We need to remember that when plastic bags end up in our waterways and oceans they entangle, suffocate and are eaten by wildlife – killing turtles, whales, sea birds and other animals each year.
"Together, governments, retailers and the community can all benefit when we get rid of plastic bags."
Chairman and founder of Clean Up Australia, Ian Kiernan AO, also supports the campaign to reduce plastic bags.
"Clean Up Australia is committed to getting rid of plastic bags and our approach has always been based on practical solutions," Mr Kiernan said.
"This new toolkit is specifically tailored to meet small retailers’ needs. It fills a gap and provides easy steps for retailers to say NO to plastic bags."
Tips for shoppers and retailers to help get rid of plastic bags are attached.
For more information visit www.noplasticbags.org.au
Photographs: related images are available from the photo gallery
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434