LNP bins bag ban plan

A ban on plastic bags has been ruled out by the state government as part of a waste management strategy being developed to tackle Queensland's growing rubbish problem. 

Environment Minister Andrew Powell made the commitment on Friday morning in response to reports the ban was being considered among a range of measures to curb waste.

But a raft of other initiatives, including education campaigns, more bins in public places, partnerships with the private sector and a crack-down on companies dumping New South Wales rubbish in Queensland landfill, may yet form part of the scheme.

“[The bag ban] is something we’ve been talking about for a while,” Mr Powell said on Friday morning.

“We need to look at reducing our waste – Queensland performs badly in this area.

“We’ve been to waste generators as well as the waste sector – even the retail sector is coming to use looking for solutions to this issue, and the intent is to have the waste strategy out for public consultation before we look at bringing it forward later this year.”

But Mr Powell then issued a statement categorically ruling out a state ban or cost being placed on plastic shopping bags.

He said the statement had been issued in a bid to allay concerns about shoppers being “slugged” at the checkout.

Plastic and plastic bags generally were being discussed as part of an overall waste strategy, Mr Powell said.

“A number of local governments have established their own bylaws on the use of plastic bags and I encourage members of the public to always consider our environment when disposing of litter and waste,” he said.

Bag bans, similar to the one now ruled out, require people bring their own bags or pay a fee to use biodegradable or reusable bags.

South Australia became the first state to institute a ban four years ago, and Tasmania is due to implement a similar scheme by next year.

Mr Powell said the government’s plan to tackle waste was not limited to supermarket check-outs.

He said there was growing evidence to support a crack-crdown on dump trucks from New South Wales coming to Queensland to exploit the state's cheap tip system.

Last year, the Newman Government scrapped its waste levy, creating an opportunity for some Sydney operators to make money by exhuming material, claiming the rebate, and trucking the waste north to deposit it for a minimal fee. 

“We’re certainly looking at that,” Mr Powell said.

“It’s not illegal to come across the border and we’ve been receiving and distributing waste for some time.

“But we have anecdotal evidence and now we have firmer evidence that there are a number of trucks coming from one company in particular transporting waste into the state.

“We’re keeping a close eye on that and I’m working closely with my counterpart in New South Wales.”

Mr Powell said government was also pursuing more partnerships with the private sector to help reduce waste, such as the one struck with the Australian Packaging Covenant in April.

The deal saw APC give fast-food retailer KFC $40,000 of Queensland taxpayers' money to install recycling bins in its fast food stores at 43 stores across the state.

“We’re keen to reinforce the behaviour that people are doing well at home in terms of recycling,” he said.

Mr Powell said the government was also rolling out CCTV cameras at illegal dumping hot-spots across Queensland.

Before Mr Powell issued the statement, opposition environment spokeswoman Jackie Trad welcomed any action to cut the number of plastic shopping bags going to landfill.

"But it should not impose unreasonable extra costs on Queensland households or small business operators," Ms Trad said.

And Queensland Greens Senate candidate Adam Stone said a ban would make a huge difference to the amount of plastic waste entering the marine environment.

"This would be a positive, concrete environment protection measure which we know from the experience in other states can be implemented with a minimum of fuss,'' he said.