According to Environment Minister Andrew Powell, the cost implications of going bag-free are a larger concern than the environmental implications.
Australians use four billion lightweight plastic bags every year, prompting a petition from Queenslanders to ban the bags at retail sale points in the state by the end of 2012.
“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,” Powell said in response to the petition.
Katherine Larson, from Tannum Sands, said in her petition that new legislation is urgently required to reduce waste and environmental degradation.
“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.”
She believes banning plastic bags could actually save money, as people using reusable shopping bags would reduce costs for retailers. Plus, there would be significant savings as fewer plastic bags in the environment would require fewer environmental clean-up efforts.