THIS month marked the first anniversary of Victoria’s ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags, and Plastic Wise Torquay has set its sights on a new waste target.
It is estimated Victorians used about 1 million of the lightweight shopping bags each year but public attitudes have shifted enormously since the ban came into force on November 1, 2019.
Since then, more than three-quarters of Victorians have switched to reusable bags, and this figure rises to 87 per cent when food shopping.
Plastic Wise Torquay spokesperson Robert Skehan said the ban was a long time overdue, but the general reaction from people was positive.
“There’s an acceptance from the community, particularly along the Surf Coast – we’re hugely lucky to live where we live – that having lightweight plastic bags floating around the place was never a good thing.
“It was a matter of what the best process was to make the change.”
He said waste reduction in general was the broader issue, and referenced bins occasionally overflowing with rubbish along the Surf Coast (including as recently as the weekend of November 14-15).
“While (the ban) is a step forward, there’s still a lot of work to do, and that sort of behaviour change from people is the sort of change we need to get in front of people’s minds.
“It’s your rubbish, you shouldn’t be leaving it on the side of the bin just because the bin is full – it isn’t that hard to take it home with you and dispose of it properly if you need to generate the waste in the first place.
“The BYO message is still a long way from most people’s thinking.”
Plastic Wise Torquay has just started a #BanTheButt campaign to ban smoking (and the resulting cigarette butts) in parks and reserves, firstly in the Surf Coast Shire and eventually across Victoria.
“Of all the beach clean ups that everybody does, cigarette butts are the absolute number one by a long shot,” Mr Skehan said.
“And again, it’s a behaviour change – the ‘do the right thing’ message has been around for at least 30 years, but for cigarette butts it just hasn’t worked.
“I think it needs to be legislated. From my understanding, a local law could be passed, similar to the ban on smoking on the beach, which has in place for 11 or 12 years.
“It’ll go a long away towards eliminating the scourge of cigarette butt pollution in our parks and reserves.”
For more information, head to facebook.com/plasticbagfreetorquay.