From Wednesday 11 April 2018, South Melbourne Market will introduce a ban on single-use plastic bags. This is a significant step for us in moving towards a greener, more sustainable future.
This means Market traders will no longer supply plastic shopping bags to customers.
The ban specifically includes:
- lightweight plastic bags with handles including those deemed biodegradable, degradable or compostable.
- heavier-weight plastic bags (like those used by department stores).
Barrier bags, the clear bags without handles that are commonly used for fruit & veg, meat, seafood and deli are not included in the ban.
We are asking for your support in our quest to reduce single-use plastic and ask that your BRING YOUR OWN BAGS when you shop at the Market. All you need to do is get into the habit of bringing reusable bags, baskets or trolleys now and you’ll be well prepared!
From 11 April, customers who are unaware of the ban, or who forget their own bags, will be able to purchase paper bags from traders, borrow a Boomerang Bag or buy a reusable bag at the Market Office.
Why are we doing this?
Last June, a Market survey to gauge the community’s position on banning single-use plastic bags found 90 per cent of shoppers supported the ban and 96 per cent supported a campaign to encourage people to bring their own bags. The vast majority of those surveyed (86 per cent) were prepared to pay for alternative bags. With such widespread community support, the Market is proactively implementing a plastic bag free policy ahead of the Victorian Government state-wide ban.
Plastic pollution is an urgent environmental problem. Globally, thousands of tonnes of plastic enter our waterways and oceans each year. It has been estimated that ocean surface waters alone could contain over 5 trillion plastic pieces, weighing over 250,000 tonnes. This issue has attracted increasing media attention over recent months.
Plastics in the environment break up into smaller and smaller pieces over time. This means that the impacts of plastic pollution are long term, and can become increasingly difficult to manage.
While Victoria has relatively low litter rates, litter from lightweight plastic bags poses a particular problem. Plastic bags are highly mobile and can easily be blown into open spaces and waterways and in the environment they can pose a danger to marine animals. A study by the University of Queensland found 30 percent of turtles autopsied were found to have plastics, including plastic bags, in their intestinal tract.
Currently, every Australian state and territory except Victoria and New South Wales have banned or committed to banning single-use lightweight plastic bags. This is also the case in countries such as China, France, Kenya and Bangladesh. Given the significant environmental impacts of plastic bags, it is important Victoria takes action.
Around 1.5 million tonnes of plastic were used in Australia in 2012–13, about 65 kilograms of plastic for each Australian. More than one third of this was single-use disposable packaging.
Victoria currently leads the way in plastic recycling, reprocessing almost half of the national total. But compared to our overall recycling rate of 67 per cent, Victoria’s plastic recycling rate is relatively low. As a State, we recycled just 28 per cent of the 570,000 tonnes of plastic waste that we produced in 2014.
More plastic facts:
- 160,000 plastic bags are used globally every second!
- 5 trillion plastic bags are produced yearly. Side by side, they can encircle the world 7 times.
- The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, which is a floating landfill of garbage in the Pacific twice the size of Texas, is mostly composed of plastic.
- In 2008, a sperm whale was found beached in California. It died due to the more than 22 kilos of plastic found in its stomach.
- Plastic will only start degrading after 700 years and will only fully degrade in 1000 years. This means that all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet.
- Plastic bags remain toxic even after it breaks down. It doesn’t biodegrade, it photo-degrades. It means that after it degrades, it breaks down into smaller and smaller toxic bits of itself – and bleeds and contaminates the environment.
- An average family will use 60 plastic bags on four visits to the supermarket.
- Only 1 to 3% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide.
- Plastic bags cause the death of many marine animals when they are mistaken for food.
- Plastic bags were introduced to supermarkets in 1977.
- Plastic bags are produced using petroleum, natural gas and other chemicals. Its production is toxic to the environment.
More interesting facts about plastic bags here
Frequently Asked Questions:
Why are you banning plastic shopping bags at the Market?
The damage to the environment caused by single use plastic bags is widely known and is increasingly an issue of concern for many members of the City of Port Phillip community.
Single use plastic bags have a negative impact on the environment from the point of production through to their disposal which is only partly mitigated through recycling programs.
The Council Plan includes an advocacy priority within Direction 3 We Have Smart Solutions for a Sustainable Future, “Advocate for and promote reduced use of balloons, plastic bags and single use plastics”.
Reducing or eliminating single use plastic bags would achieve the following outcomes:
- reduce carbon emissions from the manufacture, transport and recycling processes;
- reduce the volume of waste being sent to landfill;
- reduce Iitter on the streets and in our oceans and;
- help protect marine Iife.
Plastic bags are particularly damaging to the Port Phillip community due to the environmental damage caused to the municipality’s foreshore, waterways and parklands.
All types of single use bags result in an adverse environmental impact. The best option is to plan in advance to bring your own reusable bag.
Did you ask the community what they thought?
In 2012 Market Research at South Melbourne Market showed that 88% of customers had no objection to banning plastic bags at the Market. Most of those who did object did so for reasons of convenience and suggested charging a small fee for bags and using biodegradable bags.
In June 2017, we launched a #BantheBag Community Survey to gauge the community’s position on banning single use plastic bags at the Market. The survey ran until early July and the results were:
- 1,621 people responded
- 90% were in support of a ban
- 96% were in support of a marketing campaign to encourage shoppers to bring their own bags
- 86% said they would pay a small amount for alternative bags
Have you communicated this change to your stallholders?
We have been in constant communication with our Market stallholders and they have been engaged in this project since June 2017.
Why is the alternative paper bags?
The reason that have moved to paper bags is that there is still a lot of confusion around biodegradable and compostable bags. These bags still require a lot of energy to make, won’t degrade in landfill and can still harm wildlife if they end up in our rivers and oceans. The ban will be on ALL single-use plastic bags, regardless of how degradable they are.
What sort of paper will be used to make these bags?
The paper bags are made from 100% sustainably sourced paper, water based inks and water soluble adhesives. They are also 100% recyclable.
How much are the bags going to be?
The paper bags will be available in three sizes, and will retail for 20c each.
Why do we have to pay for paper bags?
Whilst paper bags are a better alternative, they still have a significant impact on the environment. Our primary focus on this campaign is to encourage shoppers to bring their own bags to the Market and reuse bags which is the best way to reduce waste. Paper bags are available if you forget your bags, but we are not supplying them for free as they are a significant add-on cost to our traders, and giving them away would not change shopping behaviours in a more sustainable way.
What about if I don’t want to pay for paper bags?
If you don’t want to purchase paper bags while doing your shop, you can bring your own bags, trolleys or baskets, or you can pick up a fabric reusable bag (subject to availability) from the many Boomerang Bag hooks located around the Market. There are also reusable bags for sale at the Market office and some Market traders.
How can I help you with this great project?
- If you can sew, we’d love you to join one of the Boomerang Bag Sewing Bees:
- Tell our traders how great this initiative is, and how supportive you are of it.
- Bring your own bags, baskets and trolleys when you shop at the Market.
Is anything else going to be banned?
Shopping bags are the most environmentally damaging disposable item that the Market currently uses, followed closely by plastic barrier bags (the plastic bags used for fruit & veg, meat and fish), coffee cups, straws, takeaway containers and so on. We are going to work through each of these in a collaborative manner and take one step at a time.
How can I continue to change my habits before these new changes come into play?
Once you start bringing your own shopping bags to the Market, you can also bring your own produce bags. The Market office sells Onya Produce bags (set of 5) for $15 inc GST. These replace the produce bags for your fruit & veg. They are machine washable, reusable and pack away into a tiny bag.
Get yourself a reusable coffee cup. It may need regular cleaning, but it’s still more environmentally friendly than using a disposable cup.
Just say NO to straws. You don’t need them!
Can I bring in my own containers from home for produce?
This is an interesting question. There is currently no food safety related law that expressly prevents a proprietor from using a customer’s container. The position of the City of Port Phillip Health Services Unit on the re-use of containers supplied by customers is as follows:
There is no explicit restriction on businesses serving food to a customer in the customer’s own container. The decision for registered food premises not to use customer’s containers or to refuse use of a particular container is a business decision for the proprietor of the business. The proprietor may consider the quality of the container and the likelihood of it being able to taint or compromise the chemical/bacterial quality of the food they are supplying.
We suggest you have a chat with the trader and check this out with them first.
What are you going to do about all the pre-wrapped produce available at a lot of the stalls?
Part of our ongoing plan will be to minimise the amount of waste generated by the Market. This includes packaging and other plastic waste products and we will work closely with our traders to find more sustainable packaging.