Waste minimisation (plastic shopping bags) regulations 2018

It is time to bring the Oilers up to date on the Waste Minimisation (Plastic Shopping Bags) Regulations 2018 which come into force on July 1. As a public service we would not want to see any Oilers arrested for not following the strict letter of the law in order to save the turtles/planet/Greenpeace/CoL, now, would we?

Firstly, eco-friendly, bio-degradable plastic is also evil.

Plastic means any plastic material that is manufactured from any source (including a bio-based source), whether or not it is designed to degrade in a particular way

So don’t go thinking you can be all eco-friendly with your corn-starch bag that will bio-degrade. Maybe the turtles don’t like the taste?

To ensure that you are always on the right side of the law, you will need to purchase a micrometer.

With that in your purse or wallet you will be able to check that the retailer is complying with the provisions, as a prohibited plastic shopping bag is defined as:

(a) a bag that—
(i) is wholly or predominantly made of plastic that is less than 70 microns in thickness; and
(ii) is new or unused; and
(iii) has handles;

Obviously the handle issue is easily checked; new or unused should be obvious, so it is only the thickness that might catch you out. Hence the need for the micrometer.

You are, of course, still allowed a synthetic bag, made from evil petroleum products like nylon, polypropylene, or polyester, provided it is a “long-life synthetic fabric multi-use shopping bag

Now, to test your legality here is a very simple matter: All you need to do is get 10 packs of butter (500g ones – no cheating please), pop them in the bag you are being offered by the retailer, zip down to the nearest athletic track as there you will find a 100m track neatly marked out.

With your 5kg of butter in the bag, stride along the 100m track and back 55 times. (Unfortunately, after 55 trips you will finish at the wrong end so, in reality, you will need to do 56 trips.)

Do not set the bag down as this will require you to begin the test again. There is no mention of whether or not it is permissible to change hands to give your arm a rest.

The advantage of using an athletic track is that they are marked in lanes. Provided you stay within those lines you will not collide with other citizens testing their long-life synthetic fabric multi-use shopping bags.

Having successfully completed this test you can return to the retailer and pack your goods to take them away from the point of sale with a clear conscience.

The other test for legality is whether your long-life synthetic fabric multi-use shopping bag is “constructed of nylon, polypropylene, or polyester fabric, whether woven or non-woven, and designed to be multi-use.”

Since most of us are not industrial chemists and experts on identifying nylon, polypropylene, or polyester the best bet is probably the butter carrying test.

Long-life synthetic fabric multi-use shopping bag means a bag that—
(a) is wholly or predominantly made of plastic that is between 45 and 70 microns in thickness; and
(b) either—
(i) is constructed of nylon, polypropylene, or polyester fabric, whether woven or non-woven, and designed to be multi-use; or
(ii) is certified by an entity accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand, or by an entity accredited by a comparable independent accrediting entity or organisation, to be capable of carrying 5 kg over a distance of 100 m for a minimum of 55 uses

Legislation


Curiously, giving a plastic shopping bag free is defined as being “sold“. Newspeak strikes again.

As retailers are not allowed to “sell” plastic shopping bags to enable goods to be taken away from the point of sale, and a bag is defined as new or unused, Whaleoil has devised a plan so cunning, you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel.

  • Shopper 1 gets their goods put into an illegal plastic shopping bag.
  • Realizing their law breaking actions, they immediately unpack their goods and leave the used bags at the checkout.
  • Shopper 2 follows suit but then spies the bags abandoned by Shopper 1.
  • Shopper 2 then packs their goods in the used bags abandoned by Shopper 1 and abandons their original, now used, bags to be found by Shopper 3.
  • Rinse and repeat.

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