Single-use plastic shopping bags had to go

DECADES ago there were no controls on dogs and cats. They roamed, bit people, made a mess and caused neighbourhood disputes.

These days it would be hard to find anyone who would argue that bylaws on pets should be eased.

Similarly, leaded petrol was once legal. This saw vehicles produce 90 per cent of airborne lead which was a deadly pollutant in our cities. In 2002 leaded petrol was made illegal and air quality improved virtually overnight.

Controls are coming in to ban the use of single-use plastic bags and, predictably, some people have complained.

Such bans have been needed for years though you can be sure they will be labelled as some sort of politically correct move.

Of course, it has nothing to do with political correctness and everything to do with pollution of creeks, rivers, coastlines and oceans. Plastic in all its forms has had a devastating effect on wildlife like turtles, birds and whales.

Woolworths – the first big company to move on the issue –  says it hands out 3.2 billion plastic bags at its stores annually. This single figure shows the extent of the problem.

Here’s another figure. About 200 turtles are reported dead, injured or sick in Moreton Bay Marine Park annually and of these 30 per cent die because of ingestion of marine debris. This is material washed down creeks and rivers into the ocean.

Another plastics’ issue which needs addressing is that of helium-filled balloons. They are released at all manner of events from funerals to fetes. Once released they drift away on the wind to come down all over the place, polluting the environment and killing animals.

No government has addressed this issue for fear of being labelled fun police. There is nothing wrong with normal party balloons, which are far more easily contained and need no regulation.

History shows people will get used to the ban on single-use plastic bags.

Indeed, in a few years people will likely regard it in the same way they look back on the days when there were no regulations on cats and dogs.

The government move on bags is proper and credit goes to the opposition for its support. Here’s hoping both sides of politics can now see the way to take one more step and restrict the use of helium balloons.