THE softly-softly approach has been tried and now the Greens want to ban all lightweight plastic bags from shops.
The NSW Greens introduced legislation – still to be voted on – to remove the humble plastic bag.
A staple at major supermarkets the bags are “second only to beverage containers” as environmental waste, according to president of Wagga Urban Landcare, Ed Maher
“We’ve had awareness raised in the community with major supermarkets using re-usable bags but it’s hit a plateau,” Mr Maher said.
“For many people, convenience is still a determining factor.
“A short-circuit is required to change people’s behaviour.
“As someone often involved with Clean Up Australia Day, we do see how significant disposable plastic bags are as a piece of litter which finds its way into the environment.
“The reality is we’re talking about a small proportion of bags that find their way to landfill.”
Mr Maher said it was similar to when incandescent bulbs were banned.
He said once resources were shifted away from a single-use product, new innovations would develop and people who use the plastic bags would adapt.
Riverina Greens Councillor Kevin Poynter said the bags caused enormous problems and believed a ban would see more environmentally friendly alternatives.
“They clog-up waterways and make life harder for wildlife,” he said.
“There was a time when people used to have bins without plastic in them and they just cleaned them.”
Wagga City Council’s environmental education officer Alice Kent was encouraged by the potential for plastic bags to be banned.
“Council is keen to see any proposal which sees a reduction of litter in the environment,” Miss Kent said.
“Council had a conversation about banning plastic bags locally, but found it hard to gain momentum.
“By volume, plastic litter is the worst.”
Miss Kent said Wagga residents had the chance to do their bit for the environment on Sunday March 6 for Clean Up Australia Day.
Volunteers will meet at O’Halloran Park from 9am to clean up Kooringal Road.
Up to 10 groups, two businesses and 20 schools will be working across next week.