It shouldn’t just be up to some politicians to decide what to do with the plastic bags litter. Australian Retailers Association (ARA) executive director Richard Evans believes industry stakeholders should be included when looking for solutions.

“The industry has been leading on this issue since 2002 and it would be a mistake to now introduce legislation that will only cause confusion and compliance issues.

“What we need is an across industry commitment, support from the consumer and a strategy involving all stakeholders. What we don’t need is populist politics which is polluting the debate,” he says.

According to Evans 75 per cent of the 4.5 billion bags used each year by consumers is reused.

“Plastic makes up only five per cent of landfill and 50 per cent of that is packaging so we need to place this debate into context as opposed to the emotional rhetoric that can be applied.

“We need solutions to ensure consumers can change their habits and legislation with a tax is too big a stick to use. What we suggest is greater consensus, perhaps a voluntary levy supported by government education and greater funds placed into litter management,” says Evans.

He says it was too easy to blame retailers for [some] consumers’ lack of responsibility when it comes to litter disposal and believes a tax or discriminatory banning on plastic bags will lead to confusion and greater red tape.

“Placing a tax on bags will not resolve the litter issue but it will make it difficult for retailers at the checkout with compliance. Retailers will ultimately comply with any government legislation and consumers will pay but it will be much easier and more effective if the industry was engaged voluntarily.

“Are the Labor Ministers in this apparent time of high inflation hitting working families willing to increase grocery prices by introducing costly legislation? If they are we recommend they rethink and engage the sector,” says Evans.