MOMENTUM appears to be growing nationally for a ban on plastic checkout bags, as Tasmania joins three other jurisdictions to outlaw them.
A legislated ban is expected in Tasmania within a year following confirmation of all-party support yesterday. The state would join South Australia, the ACT and Northern Territory.
Advocates of a ban have met repeated setbacks in a long campaign to rid the country of the billions of checkout bags used annually. Jon Dee, founder of the group Do Something!, said governments of the most populous states, NSW and Victoria, had previously committed to phasing out bags but failed to introduce legislation.
''A national approach on this fell apart in 2008 when the [then] environment minister, Peter Garrett, totally dropped the ball,'' Mr Dee said. ''I think Tasmania's move means that the momentum for a ban has now reached a tipping point.'' The small Tasmanian town of Coles Bay was the first community whose retailers banded together to reject the bags, which are blamed for littering, posing hazards to wildlife, and being indestructible in landfill.
Some towns, stores and retail chains across the country followed suit. In June the Tweed Shire village of Chillingham declared itself NSW's first town free of plastic bags.
The Australian Retailers Association said a blanket ban on the bags would deal with only 0.6 per cent of the litter stream, and ignored consumer responsibility for waste disposal.
It said of the 4.5 billion bags used by Australians each year, 75 per cent were re-used.
Meanwhile, Waverley council will install free drinking water refill stations at Bondi, Bronte and Tamarama beaches. A trial at Bondi last year led to a marked drop in plastic bottle litter.
Source: Sydney Morning Herald