Talking Rubbish Blog

The debate on banning plastic bags continues with the news that Tasmania is to go ahead and ban plastic shopping bags. This is an important issue, because the thin plastic bag is created for single use and then disposal. Production cost is still low and no, they do not occupy large space in landfill - so production can steam ahead. And they are so useful, what other easy to acquire bag can carry those smelly foodscraps, wet bathers and pet goldfish so cheaply and conveniently?!

In Australia we use 4 billion plastic bags annually – or 200 plastic bags per person per year (Clean Up Australia website) and although quite easy to recycle, 97% are not. There are collection points at some major supermarkets but that means making sure the bags are clean and remembering to take them to the shop for recycling.  Most are landfilled directly or after being used as a ‘bin liner’. When we see these statistics we are shocked and determined to not participate in the plastic bag problem and we try to find alternatives. Green bags (these are plastic too), hessian bags, cloth bags and boxes fill our kitchen spaces waiting for service.  At last there is some way we can truly make a difference.
Or is there? Yes, any opportunity to reduce bag consumption is admirable and to be encouraged. But, this is only the beginning. The real problems are other forms of non-compostable discarded plastics, short life toys and other items, packaging, polystyrene etc, all produced for a limited time use but ironically having a long term durability. These materials are often glued to other materials and not easily separated into component types or they may be seen as such a low value they are not worth collecting to reprocess. ’Can it be recycled?’ is a different question to ‘will it be recycled?’. Recycling is a business and must make a profit.

We must think more creatively about how we carry, pack and store our materials and products. What we make our products out of and how we assemble them should be carefully considered.  Are they easy to reuse or recycle? And most importantly, do they even need to be made, mined and consumed in the first place? Can we reduce our use of these products?

Banning plastic bags is just the beginning.

What do you do to reduce your use of plastic bags? Do you dispose wisely of the bags you accumulate? Do you think Australia as a whole should impose a ban?
21 Mar 2011 9:00 AM  /  Peg Davies  / bags, dispose, plastic, reusing, shopping, wisely  /  7 comments


That's a quick-witted answer to a difficult question

Patricia Acuna

Hi Peg I think this blog is Lovely! I agree that we have to stop the use of ANY PLASTIC that can not be Recycled, and its not just a problem of the manufacturers, It's everyone's problem, we are all responsible. I say let make Laws that prohibit this kind of waste, and create awareness, educate people! As to the question of what i do with my plastic bags I invite you and your visitors to take a look at my blog where I UpCYcle plastic bags and Food Packaging material and anything Plastic that I know isn't being recycled. I am on the constant look out through experimenting for beautiful designs! My main goal is to run a Sustainable business with these materials!


Well,if we use China as an example...when they banned FREE plastic bags, they saved the need for about 40 million barrels of oil in one year! Even though it would be a small cost, people will most often choose to carry their couple of items rather than pay for a plastic bag! People may even start to remember their bags! I saw a sign at the entrance of a shopping centre that said "have you remembered your shopping bags?" Are you old enough to remember the piles of boxes at the supermarket to use for packing? Bring it back!! Who cares if it looks a bit messy!


We are addicted to by-products of oil which is detrimental to the environment....plastics, petroleum products, pesticides, herbicides...our society is very dependent of these products. Ban them all!


Yes those tricky items like bread bags, cereal packets etc are handy for the yuckier end of living. Very hard to live with no plastic bags and not spend heaps of time and travel energy getting 'bulk' or loose items to eliminate all bags.


We use some of the bags that our shopping comes in for doggy deposits & the rest get stored in the cupboard until our next shopping delivery arrives when we give them back to the driver who recycles them back at store :-)


In awe of that answer! Really cool!

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