Plastic Bag Free Fremantle Update

A plastic bag free Fremantle was another step closer  as a result of Council recently endorsing the new working group that will come up with the local law and the recommended plastic bags alternatives.

On the working group will be members of the group Plastic Free Fremantle (who got this ball rolling) as well as a retail representative and plastic bag manufacturers. From the Fremantle Council will be Cr Jon Strachan and myself.

Fremantle’s approach is also getting some good state and national attention.

Not only did it make the front page of the West Australian but also was on channel nine news. More recently the state ALP and the shadow environment minister Sally Talbot highlighting Fremantle’s leadership after the stage Government blocked state wide plastic bag ban when it voted down Labor’s Plastic Shopping Bags (Waste Avoidance) Bill on party lines.

Plastic Free Freo has also  inspired people all around Australia

It was also on the Australia wide Today show.

Nationally it was also picked up by the Fifth Estate in this article:

Public and business drive Fremantle ban on plastic bags

By Lyn Drummond

21 March 2012 – The City of Fremantle’s recent initiative to ban plastic bags was driven by local businesses, a public petition, and strong commitment to sustainability and renewable energy, according to the WA city’s mayor, Brad Pettit.

The city is the first carbon neutral local government in WA  and the second in the country behind City of Sydney and will now be the first council in Australia to pass a local law banning single use non-biodegradable, lightweight plastic bags.

Dr  Pettit told The Fifth Estate the council had a policy of encouraging retailers not to use the bags but a committee had now recommended changing by-laws to enforce the policy.

The local law, expected to be in place by June, has had positive responses from the community, Dr Pettit said.

The initiative to ban the bags had in fact come from Fremantle businesses and a public petition to council as well as local green group Plastic Free Freo who had lobbied extensively for the ban including screening of the film Bag It.

“We’re banning the bags both for environmental reasons and the impact it has on wildlife,” he said.

“We waste four billion of these lightweight bags a year around Australia and for environmental leadership we hope this move shows the rest of the state.”

The draft law will be put out for public comment, and the ban will follow a phase out period and public education campaign. Penalties would apply, he said.

The alternatives will be biogradable bags made from corn starch, paper bags or BYO bags.

Towns such as Coles Bay in Tasmania and Mogo in southern NSW have gone plastic bag-free since 2003 but according to Planet Ark, Fremantle will be the first council to enforce this policy with a local law, Dr Pettit said.

The law would draw on legislation passed in South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT.

Fremantle council also plans to switch to biodegradable dog refuse bags.

The World Wide Fund for Nature estimates that more than 100,000 whales, seals, turtles, and birds die every year as a result of plastic bags.  In Australia, a Bryde’s whale died in Trinity Bay near Cairns.  An autopsy found that the whale’s stomach was tightly packed with plastic including supermarket bags, food packages and bait bags.

Dr Pettitt said Fremantle council was pursuing many initiatives to create a low carbon community including large scale investment in renewable energy.

“We see ourselves as a leader in the sustainability area in WA,”he said. “Most challenging for urban based councils like Fremantle is reducing carbon emissions in our own corporate activity and mandating energy efficiency buildings.

“We have been working with the state government on plans for a light rail network, travelling south from Fremantle 20 kilometres to the City of Cockburn.

“In Fremantle we have radically increased our bike network, and our target is for people to increase their bicycle trips from three to eight per cent daily.”

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

2 Responses to Plastic Bag Free Fremantle Update

  1. barracudabsg1 says:

    Good idea…though we have been really slow to catch on.Better late than never though.Plastic replacement and better recycled and more precious/cautious use of this resource is a must…being as fragmentable and invisible and deadly as it powders but for most intentions it is near indestructable and damaging on macro and micro scale…scary but entrenched usage.Alternatives need to be very carefully developed to not create such a disasterous situation again downstream…Possibly wider use of bioplastics,vegetable based plastics…next replace those evil plastic credit and debit cards!Ciao

  2. Simone says:

    Very proud of Fremantle leading the way in this at least in WA. Good on everybody who has worked hard to get to this point!

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