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    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    STEERING GROUP TO INVESTIGATE SOLUTIONS TO ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE CAUSED BY PLASTIC BAGS

    Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection and Minister for National Parks and the Great Barrier Reef
    The Honourable Steven Miles

    Monday, February 29, 2016

    STEERING GROUP TO INVESTIGATE SOLUTIONS TO ENVIRONMENTAL DAMAGE CAUSED BY PLASTIC BAGS

    Queensland Environment Minister Dr Steven Miles and his NSW counterpart Mark Speakman today announced a steering group would be set-up to examine practical solutions to the damage caused by plastic bags to the environment.  

    The announcement followed today’s (Monday’s) national stakeholder roundtable in Sydney, led by the Qld and NSW Environment Ministers and joined by the Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt, which was established to understand the extent of the problem and to identify the gaps and successes in what is already being done in other jurisdictions.

    Dr Miles said the steering group would investigate growing scientific evidence about the ongoing detrimental effect of plastic bags on the environment and regulatory approaches to reduce plastic bag litter.

    “There has been a lot of discussion on single-use plastic bags over the years, and as the Environment Minister, and Minister for the Great Barrier Reef, I have made sure the issue is back on the table,’ Dr Miles said.

    “Doing what we can to save turtles, dugongs, dolphins and fish from suffocation or plastic ingestion, is a no brainer.

    “Plastic bags are often used once, maybe twice, but have a long lasting effect on our wildlife, at a time when the Palaszczuk Government is doing so much to protect the Great Barrier Reef,’’ Dr Miles said.

    Mr Speakman said Ministers and scientific, business and environmental experts discussed jurisdictional experiences, lightweight versus boutique bags, citizen science, and the next steps for government at the roundtable.

    “Minister Miles and I have expressed a commitment to continue working towards a harmonised approach to reducing the amount of plastic that makes its way into our marine environment.  The steering group is a significant step towards achieving our aim,” Mr Speakman said.

    Federal Environment Minister Hunt said Australians consumed around 4 billion plastic shopping bags each year – an estimated 800 million in Queensland - which were often only used for a few minutes before being thrown away.

    “Plastic bags and plastic fragments easily make their way across our land as litter, eventually entering our waterways and oceans with harmful effects on our wildlife and marine life, and can exist in the environment for hundreds of years,” Mr Hunt said.

    The steering group will include NSW, Queensland, Victorian and Commonwealth members.

    About 30 to 50 million plastic bags are littered annually in Australia.

    ENDS

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