Plans to introduce a region-wide ban on single-use bags are gaining momentum as Wollongong City Council prepares to pitch its anti-plastic proposal to other councils.
Wollongong Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery is set to put the council’s plastic bag plan, endorsed last month, on the agenda for next month’s Southern Councils Group meeting.
The council’s proposal to address the problems caused by single-use bags will go before mayors from Bega Valley, Kiama, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee on September 18, in the hope they will follow suit.
‘‘It’s a situation where we can exert some positive influence and encourage them to adopt a similar approach,’’ Cr Bradbery said.
‘‘Being mostly coastal councils, we want them realise the benefits, not just to beaches and the environment, but on tourism of reducing plastic bag use.
‘‘Councils spend a lot of money cleaning up and conducting waste management so anything we can do to reduce that is good; it’s really a moral position and it’s up to each respective council but it’s something we’re keen to raise.’’
Ban the Bag Illawarra member Carolyn Lee is hopeful the councils will get behind the cause and encourage residents to sign the group’s anti-plastic petition.
She was also keen to see the councils’ respective mayors lobby the state government to review its legislation on plastic bag bans.
At present, NSW law does not allow councils to apply bans or levies on plastic bags.
Ms Lee believes many councils have started to recognise the dangers of plastic bag use and the need for local government to lead the anti-plastic push.
‘‘I think councils know it’s becoming a real issue,’’ she said.
‘‘We really want to see the government take some leadership on this and have a look at the legislation; towns like Huskisson and Kangaroo Valley have been plastic-bag free for years but no-one’s really pushed for it at a higher level.’’
Ban the Bag Illawarra is set to continue its work with councils and businesses to encourage them to ditch plastic bags, in favour of ‘‘green’’ alternatives.
Ms Lee said the group would love to run a plastic-bag free trial in the Illawarra.
‘‘We know lots of businesses in Thirroul have already gone plastic-free but I’m sure there are other shops out there doing it voluntarily, it’s just about providing customers with alternatives,’’ she said.
Residents can sign Ban the Bag Illawarra’s petition at change.org.