Minister for Environment Peter Garrett has rejected the call to follow South Australia's lead with a national plastic bag ban.
ARA executive director Richard Evans said the Federal Government's dismissal of ill-informed calls for a national plastic bag ban allowed retailers to continue with voluntary action and recognised the broader and more complex issue of litter management.
"Any national or additional state based plastic bag bans would be an inappropriate and inadequate solution to the complex issue of litter management. For the past 12 months the plastic bag has been singled out as a national environmental villain – and we all know Australia's litter problem is bigger than bags," said Evans.
He said other state governments considering plastic bag reduction initiatives must accept the fact that this is not a plastic bag issue – the real issue is about litter management of all disposable packaging and consumer goods.
"The Federal Government has today recognised the voluntary efforts retailers have been adopting since 2002 to reduce plastic bag usage, with the latest effort seeing a nationwide ban of plastic bags across all Target stores from next month.
"Retailers are doing their part to reduce plastic bag usage but they're now calling on local governments to come to the table and address the real issue of litter management with effective recycling initiatives and hard-line consumer education campaigns.
Retailers would also welcome Federal Government support by putting funds towards education campaigns to inform consumers about their roles and responsibilities in helping to reduce the environmental impact of their consumption.
"Most Australians, including retailers, are anti-litter but as a nation we have a long way to go before consumers are fully accountable for disposing of litter appropriately," said Evans.