GRAMPIANS Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group has called for community involvement to develop a statewide single-use plastic bag ban.
The state government announced on Wednesday it would ban single-use bags and launched a consultation process that will inform how and when the ban is implemented.
Waste and resource recovery group acting executive officer La Vergne Lehmann said the ban was a step in the right direction.
“Most of the other states already have some form of ban around single-use bags, and some have been more successful than others,” she said.
“It’s really important to take the time to bring the community along with this so they understand what the consequences are.
“I know people have said, for example, ‘What am I going to use for bin liners?’ We need to prepare the community for those sorts of things.
“It is also important that when the government implements this, we don’t create other problems in the process.
“We don’t want to make it so slightly thicker bags that fall outside the guidelines are given to people and they’re being charged for them.
“We have to make sure there are no unintended consequences in all of this.”
Mrs Lehmann said preparing retailers would be a key element of the ban.
“The big players like Coles and Woolworths have already indicated their thoughts on this, but smaller retailers – or ones who are part of a franchise and get their bags printed and sent to them – need to have time to prepare how this is going to work,” she said.
“The routine of putting something into a plastic bag without thinking has been ingrained for a long time.”
Mrs Lehmann said it was important residents provided feedback on the bag ban during the government’s consultation process, which closes on January 25.
“If people support this, they need to make it clear to the government,” she said.
“If the government doesn’t get that kind of strong message, it’s possible the timelines for implementation might stretch out.
“But I think they want to do this and do it properly.
“My understanding is the minister wants to ensure they get this right, rather than bringing it in quickly but having to fix things down the track.”
Mrs Lehmann encouraged people to start thinking about transitioning away from using plastic bags, and consider the amount of plastic they used overall.
“It’s not just the four or give bags they put things in, but what is in those bags also,” she said.
“There’s a lot of plastic that goes in them too.”
The bag survey is available at engage.vic.gov.au/waste/plastic-pollution.