OPINION: Consultation needed on plastic bag ban

MANY Sunshine Coast small business are caught between a rock and a hard place over the issue of plastic shopping bags.

They acknowledge the damage they can do to the environment, but also know their place in retail.

The State Government has raised the prospect of an immediate ban, or at least as soon as possible.

Therein lies the rub.

The Sunshine Coast business community is strongly committed to balancing environmental sustainability with economic prosperity and recognises the vital role in minimising the impact on the environment.

But they also don't want to cop the brunt of a plastic shopping bag ban forced on them without proper consultation.

CCIQ is concerned that a potential ban by the State Government will mean more red tape for small business and penalise those in the supply chain.

We wrote to Environment Minister Steven Miles in November to provide constructive input into the government's policy discussion on the reduction of litter and plastic pollution, specifically in relation to the management of plastic bags.

Despite a strong desire to be environmentally friendly, cost and expertise continue to represent the greatest barriers for participation in environmental management and sustainability programs.

Complexity and lack of experience in waste management are also significant prohibiting factors for Coast small businesses.

The management of single-use plastic bags in Queensland is without doubt an important environmental issue.

Millions and millions are used every day, with many ending up on our beaches, rivers and canals and impacting wildlife.

The government is looking at three broad measures to restrict the number of plastic bags including voluntary reduction measures; legislation banning the supply of single-use shopping bags; or a requirement of a charge on supply of single-use shopping bags.

Wider small business engagement is needed to determine the most appropriate approach.

Education and awareness is most important in affecting change in consumer behaviour, rather than focus on penalising those in the supply chain.

CCIQ does not support the implementation of policy that penalises or imposes significant operational restrictions for small businesses.

The Minister had indicated there will be more consultation with small business. We are counting on that.

  • Kimberley Lynch is CCIQ Regional Manager for the Sunshine Coast.

Topics:  opinion plastic bags

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