The NSW Government will consider all options before banning plastic bags, Environment Minister Mark Speakman says. (Giulio Saggin, file photo: ABC News)The toxic legacy of plastic bagsSouth coast seabirds dying due to plastic wastePlastic bag ban considered by Qld Government to reduce toll on marine lifeKey points:Labor and Greens call for ban of single use plastic bagsGovernment to consider all options before banBiodegradable bags may not be the solution, Environment Minister saysEarlier this week, Labor and the Greens both introduced bills into Parliament calling on the Government to ban single use plastic bags, commonly found in grocery stores.Labor MP Penny Sharpe said “the Government has been dragging their heels on this”.She called for the Government to stop the “61 million plastic bags finding their way into our marine environment and rivers across the state”.”New South Wales has been derelict in our replica hermes duty if we’re serious about dealing with plastic pollution in our marine environment,” Ms Sharpe said.”[The] plastic bags ban works in two other states and two other territories. New South Wales should just step up and ban the bags.”It is Australia’s four smallest jurisdictions Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and ACT who have banned single use plastic bags.However, Environment Minister Mark Speakman said total bans were not in place in those areas.”There’s an exemption for biodegradable bags,” he said.Biodegradable bags ‘may actually be worse’Mr Speakman said the use of biodegradable bags came with its own complications.”There’s increasing scientific evidence that would suggest that biodegradable bags aren’t any better than ordinary single use plastic bags and indeed could be worse because they take on average 40 days to physically biodegrade,” he said.”As they biodegrade, their surface area expands, toxins adhere to the surface area.”So, it may actually be worse to be having biodegradable bags than ordinary plastic bags.”Mr Speakman said the issue of how to reduce plastic bag pollution would be discussed at a roundtable he was co hosting with his Queensland counterpart at Taronga Zoo on Monday.And he said the Government would not rush into a ban.”There’s no proposal [for a ban] before Government at the moment,” he said.”What we’re hoping to do is explore practical solutions.
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