Environment Minister Andrew Powell
Environment Minister Andrew Powell Valerie Horton

Costs to be considered before Qld bans plastic bags: Powell

QUEENSLAND has placed business costs above danger to the environment from the four billion lightweight plastic bags Australians use every year.

Environment Minister Andrew Powell, responding to a petition with 530 signatures to ban the bags at retail sale points in Queensland by the end of 2012, said he was aware South Australia and the Northern Territory had banned plastic shopping bags.

But he said this state must consider cost implications before it could take a similar approach.

"The government does not want to be in the position of having removed one cost to Queenslanders in the form of the levy only to introduce a new scheme that may come with additional costs to the community and business," he said.

Tannum Sands resident Katherine Larson said in her petition, sponsored by Gladstone MP Liz Cunningham, that legislation was needed to introduce a ban to reduce waste and environmental degradation as a matter of urgency.

She said vast amounts of fossil fuel were required to produce these bags, a process which added to greenhouse emissions.

"Plastic refuse is a major threat to our land, waterways and ocean environments," she said.

"Plastic takes hundreds of years to break down and has the potential to end up in the marine food chain with devastating consequences.

"At least 77 species of marine wildlife found in Australian waters are affected by marine litter.

"Eliminating single use plastic bags requires negligible infrastructure and will save clean-up costs incurred by local and state governments while also allowing significant savings to retailers."

Mr Powell said the Queensland Government was committed to waste reform but there must be suitable management approaches.