Seabird Rescue supports plastic bags ban

AUSTRALIAN Seabird Rescue in Ballina has thrown its support behind a proposal that would see single-use plastic bags banned across the state.

NSW Government shadow environment minister Penny Sharpe visited the marine animal rescue centre to see first-hand the impact non-biodegradable bags were having on sea birds and turtles.

The visit comes after Labor's announcement that it would introduce a private members bill this year to ban the bags, in line with changes that have already come into effect in other states like South Australia.

Plastic bag ban would help our turtles: Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe MLC talks about the single use plastic bag ban proposal.
Plastic bag ban would help our turtles: Shadow Environment Minister Penny Sharpe MLC talks about the single use plastic bag ban proposal.

"Single use plastic bags, over 61 million of them, find their way into our coastal areas," Ms Sharpe said.

"It's killing sea life, it's polluting our environment, it's actually quite unnecessary.

"If we put bans in place as other states have done (like) South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT, we know that we can get 61 million bags out of the litter stream straight away."

Seabird Rescue vice president Keith Williams said about one third of the turtles that came into Seabird care were there because they had ingested plastic.

The effects of plastic bags on turtles: One third of the turtles that come to Australian Seabird Rescue at Ballina are sick or injured after eating plastic bags.
The effects of plastic bags on turtles: One third of the turtles that come to Australian Seabird Rescue at Ballina are sick or injured after eating plastic bags.

"Plastic bags are a large portion of that and certainly a lot of our work is involved in trying to get it back out of the turtles," he said. "Plastic in the oceans is a major problem and it's not just going to go away tomorrow.

"Even if we ban plastic bags tomorrow we will still have plastic in the ocean, possibly for generations to come."

Ms Sharpe said the changes would be introduced slowly, giving people time to adjust, with heavier, biodegradable bags and other alternatives available at places like shopping centres.

"It's important to remember that only 20 years ago we didn't have plastic bags," she said.