Single use plastic bag ban will help save Moreton Bay marine life

DEADLY AFFAIR: Marine wildlife pays a big price for humans littering. Here a turtle dies on a Redlands shore after becoming entangled in an abandoned crab pot.

DEADLY AFFAIR: Marine wildlife pays a big price for humans littering. Here a turtle dies on a Redlands shore after becoming entangled in an abandoned crab pot.

LEGISLATIVE amendments introduced into state parliament should help reduce animal-killing plastic litter in Moreton Bay.

Environment Minister Steven Miles said a container refund scheme and a ban on single-use plastic bags would get rubbish out of waterways and help people to recycle.

“Supermarkets are handing out a billion plastic bags a year in our state and many of those end up polluting our waterways and oceans and killing our fish and turtles,” he said. “More than 23,000 Queenslanders told us they wanted a ban on single use plastic shopping bags.

“...A plastic bag ban will ... protect our environment from plastic pollution.”

Sea World scientist Trevor Long, who does substantial Moreton Bay research and wildlife rescues, said the moves would protect marine wildlife.

“We rescue and rehabilitate hundreds of sea birds, marine turtles, and dolphins, seals and other animals after they have ingested litter,” Mr Long said.

“If you’ve ever seen a turtle fight for life after swallowing a plastic bag, or struggling to swim after becoming entangled in a thoughtlessly discarded fishing line, you’ll know the damage that marine debris can do to our marine wildlife.

TURTLE BUSINESS: Scientists research turtles in Moreton Bay. Moreton Island is in the background.

TURTLE BUSINESS: Scientists research turtles in Moreton Bay. Moreton Island is in the background.

Wildlife Queensland spokesman Toby Hutcheon said the container refund scheme and the ban on plastic shopping bags would have enormous benefits.

“These two measures can reduce litter volumes, particularly plastic litter, by at least 50 per cent in Queensland,” he said.

“This package represents the most significant policy on litter reduction in a generation.

“...Drink cans and bottles dominate litter in our parks, beaches and public areas.”

LNP leader Tim Nicholls has also promised to phase out plastic bag use.

Mr Miles said amendments to the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act also included a container refund scheme.

“(This) will make it easier for people to recycle and give community groups a chance to make some extra money from their clean up days.

“To make the program as simple as possible, refunds will be available from reverse vending machines or at designated container refund points.”

Scouts chief commissioner Daryl Scott said Scouts would take part in the scheme just as they had done in South Australia.

Under the scheme most drink containers between 150ml and 3 litres will be eligible for a 10 cent refund, although some containers are exempt, such as containers for plain milk, wine and pure juice.

SA and the NT have been operating similar schemes for many years, with NSW to start this year. 

Similarly, bans on lightweight single-use plastic shopping bags are already in place in other parts of the country including SA, the NT, the ACT and Tasmania.

In Queensland, the refund scheme and plastic bag ban will start on July 1 next year.

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