A shopper is seen carrying bags at a Coles store. Picture: AAP/Peter RAE
A shopper is seen carrying bags at a Coles store. Picture: AAP/Peter RAE

Why plastic bag debate is ridiculous

JUST one day after News Corp revealed Coles had announced an indefinite handing out of free reusable plastic bags, the company performed yet another backflip, notifying staff the free handout of bags would end on August 29.

And so the debate continues …


John McCarthy

IF YOU have ever wondered why politics is so annoyingly polarised in this country, just look at the stupidity of two debates we are currently having - plastic bag bans and the name of a hospital.

I'm unashamedly in favour of banning plastic bags and I will even double down on it and support a ban on plastic coffee pods. If there was ever a case of over-engineering a simple process, it's coffee pods.

Our household adopted hessian bags well before the plastic-bag ban came in.

More than 900 million of these ridiculous bags are used each year in Queensland. You cannot re-use 900 million bags as liners for kitchen bins.

It is just common sense that we look for alternatives as well as other plastic items that we don't really need.

What is ridiculous is that plastic bags have become a political issue. Somehow, wanting fewer plastic bags fluttering across the beach or choking turtles is seen as lefty virtue signalling.

It's not. If it makes the culture warriors happy, I believe plastic has been a big positive in our lives.

I know the arguments against the ban. Asia and Africa dump more plastic in the oceans than we could ever achieve and that domestic retailers are potentially making it worse by wrapping pieces of fruit in cling wrap. Plus, the sturdy plastic bags we use as replacements use a lot more plastic than we save. That doesn't defeat the argument that we should ban single-use plastic bags.

As for the Lady Cilento Children's Hospital - just call it the Lady Cilento Children's Public Hospital. Problem solved.


Michael Madigan

IN THE entire discussion on the plastic-bag ban, no one thought of the single, middle-aged man who relies on these bags to line his bins.

The absence of these bags at the checkout caused deep confusion among many ageing shoppers when the ban was introduced, despite widespread warnings of the proposal.

It was soon obvious that the competitively priced (15¢) re-usables bags could be swiftly purchased, and their thicker texture only added to their viability as bin liners.

But the price made many shoppers reticent to buy too many re-usable bags, forcing many shoppers to make an extra purchase of a roll of purpose-built, bin liners made of - you guessed it - plastic.

And so, furnished with a larger-than-normal supply of bin liners, men in kitchens across the state became more liberal in their treatment of garbage.

Once they filled a plastic shopping bag every few days, grasping at those tiny remaining bits of plastic at the top to fashion into a knot before depositing up to a week's kitchen waste into the wheelie bin.

Now, awash with scores of bin liners, they gleefully tore open snow-white new plastic bags daily to accommodate a trivial amount of waste product, employing those acres of readily available plastic at the top of the near- empty bag to tie elaborate bows.

The result may well be a sum total of more plastic in the marine ecosystem, choking turtles and contributing to the overall destruction of the planet. Precisely what the ban was supposed to stop in the first place.