Wollongong Councillors this week agreed to lobby State government to change legislation so that a ban or levy on plastic bags can be introduced in the Wollongong LGA.
If approval is given by the NSW government, Wollongong will have the green light to ban single-use plastic shopping bags from being given away by retailers and market stalls in the Wollongong LGA. A change in legislation will also allow other councils in NSW to introduce a ban or a levy.
The approved Motion will also see a plastic bag-free trial program in one or a number of suburbs in the Illawarra. Suggestions from Councillors included Thirroul, Dapto and Shellharbour Village.
Councillors recognised the environmental, tourist and health implications plastic bags are having on the local environment and unanimously agreed to support the Motion that Councillor Jill Merrin proposed. Mayor Gordon Bradbury went so far as to say adopting the Motion was a “no brainer”.
Two representatives from Ban The Bag Illawarra – Amanda Prior and Carolyn Lee outlined the impacts of plastic bags and the many alternatives for shopping and for bin liners. A number of Councillors, including Councillors Blicavs, Brown, Takacs and Connor spoke of their positive experiences travelling to countries, States and Territories where bans had been introduced.
Councillor Merrin announced that over 1,300 signatures had been collected via a petition and Carolyn Lee from Ban The Bag Illawarra revealed that 71% of those who responded to the Illawarra Mercury’s recent online poll are in favour of the introduction of a ban.
Lee will speak at the next Southern Councils Group meeting on August 22, encouraging the six adjoining Councils to also lobby State government and participate in a plastic bag-free trial.
“We’re so pleased all of Wollongong’s Councillors are behind this campaign,” says Lee. “As a group, our ultimate aim is to have single-use plastic shopping bags banned, not only throughout the Wollongong LGA, but also throughout NSW. This is a fantastic start.”
“We understand that in conjunction with taking a legislative approach … to make this happen, there needs to be work done in the community and with businesses to build awareness and an understanding of why this change is needed. Ban The Bag Illawarra would be pleased to be able to work with Council, the Chambers of Commerce and individual retailers to help educate the public and the business community,” she said.
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