Waleed Aly is urging Australians to pressure state premiers around the country into joining the push for a national ban on plastic bags and help stop "one of the biggest sources of pollution on the planet".
In The Project co-host's first Something We Should Talk About segment for 2017 written with Tom Whitty aired on Wednesday, Aly called for support to be thrown behind a Change.org petition launched in collaboration with Clean Up Australia that challenges NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Victorian Premer Daniel Andrews and WA Premier Mark McGowan to join other states in banning the retail use of plastic bags.
As of 2017, South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT all have bans on plastic bags in place, with Queensland set to join them in 2018.
"What you mightn't realise is that some states and territories in Australia have lead the way and banned plastic bags. I'm admiring you South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT, and Queensland will ban them from July next year," Aly said.
"But the other states, for decades, have only talked about it."
Following a 2016 senate inquiry into marine plastic pollution that recommended the Federal government supports states and territories in banning single-use plastic bags, Aly said it's now only an issue of individuals mounting pressure on Premiers to join the movement and make it happen.
He also confirmed Federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg, Clean Up Australia, supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths as well as Premiers Berejiklian, Andrews and McGowan all told The Project they would support a ban in one form or another
"Our Federal Environment Minister, Josh Frydenberg told The Project he would support all states introducing a ban. Clean Up Australia also wants to see state-wide bans," he said
"And Coles and Woolies, who are responsible for giving out billions of plastic bags in this country each year, told The Project they would willingly comply with state bans. So there's no PR war to fight on that front.
"NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told us she would support a ban on plastic bags, but she wants a national ban. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews also supports a ban, but he'd also prefer a national ban. WA Premier Mark McGowan told us he supports a ban, but instead of a state ban, or even a national ban, he wants WA councils to ban plastic bags."
So why is a ban yet to happen in NSW, Victoria or Western Australia? Aly said it's down to the need for a public push to influence policy.
"Eighty per cent of South Australians, who have already been living with a plastic bag ban for eight years, strongly support the ban. 70 per cent of Canberrans feel the same way. Same deal for 73 per cent of Territorians," he said.
"These guys want to ban plastic bags, they're even ready to ban plastic bags, they're just waiting for you to give them a push. And unless we give them a push, nothing will change, and you and I will keep using plastic bags.
"Tweet the premiers to let them know you support a ban. Email them. Call them. Hit them up on their Facebook pages. Show them that there's plenty of political goodwill in having the courage to ban the bag."
According to Clean Up Australia, Australians dispose of an estimated 4 million plastic bags, or more than 20,000 tonnes of plastic waste, each year. Only three percent of these are recycled, with the rest finding their way into the environment or landfill.
In the segment, Aly said plastic bags are used by consumers for an average of 12 minutes between obtaining them in a supermarket or retail location and disposing of them, but can take at least 1000 years to break down in the environment or landfill.
"Your great great great great great great great great great great great great grandchildren will share a planet with the plastic bag that you just used to bring home tonight's dinner," he said.
"Us Australians are world leaders when it comes to waste. We're the second highest producers of rubbish, per person, in the world. Only the US is trashier. We each send almost 700 kilos of waste to landfill every year, and man do we love a plastic bag. It's estimated Australians use between 4 and 6 billion plastic bags annually. We use more than 10 million plastic bags, every day.
"And we'll all wait and see who will lead the way. NSW, Victoria or WA? Who's going to ban the bag first? Gladys Berejiklian, Daniel Andrews or Mark McGowan? Whose name will our great great great great great great great great great great great great grandchildren read in their history books?"
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