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Victoria to enforce single-use plastic bag ban from November

Single-use plastic bags will be banned across Victoria from November 1, 2019, the Victorian government announced on June 19.

Under new legalisation all single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags with a thickness of 35 microns or less will be banned, including bags made from degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic.

In a statement, Minister for Environment, Lily D’Ambrosio, said the ban was a crucial step in protecting Victoria’s rivers, waterways, oceans and wildlife from plastic pollution.

“The feedback on this one was clear. Victorians want to do more to protect the environment from the damage litter causes and are overwhelmingly supportive of banning single-use plastic shopping bags.

“We’ve been working closely with businesses to plan for the ban ahead of November and we’ll continue to look at ways we can reduce other types of plastic pollution across Victoria,” D’Ambrosio said.

The ban will apply to bags being provided at retail outlets including supermarkets, fashion boutiques, fast food outlets, convenience stores and service stations.

These legislative changes follow an overwhelming number of responses during community consultation, supporting a ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags.

Work is underway with the National Retailers Association to ensure Victorian businesses are prepared for the ban and have access to sustainable packaging alternatives.

A plastic pollution action plan is also under development to help reduce other types of plastic pollution, in collaboration with industry, retailers and community environment groups.

Other states have similarly introduced bans, with Western Australia’s plastic bag ban coming into effect in January 2019. Retailers who supply banned lightweight plastic bags in WA could face a fine of up to $5,000.

Plastic bag suppliers and manufacturers who provide misleading information when selling bags to retailers also risk being prosecuted and fined.

South Australia has lead the way for years by phasing out lightweight single-use plastic bags in 2009.

The South Australian government has more recently announced it is considering banning single-use plastic products such as straws and cutlery.

In January 2019, SA Environment Minister, David Speirs, launched two discussion papers seeking the views of the state’s residents on single-use plastics as well as expanding SA’s container deposit scheme.