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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 January 2008, 05:32 GMT
Australia to act on plastic bags
Plastic bags
Several countries are working to reduce plastic bag use
The Australian government says it wants to phase out the use of free plastic bags, following a similar move by China earlier in the week.

Environment Minister Peter Garrett said that action was critical, because plastic bags were harming Australia's land and wildlife.

He said he would meet state leaders to discuss the plan in April, with a view to implementing it by the end of 2008.

On Tuesday, China said a ban on free plastic bags would start in June.

It also banned production of extra-flimsy plastic bags, attributing both decisions to the need to reduce pollution and save resources.

'Absolutely critical'

Mr Garrett said he thought most Australians would back a move to end the distribution of free plastic bags in supermarkets and shops.

"There are some 4 billion of these plastic bags floating around the place, getting into landfills, ending up affecting our wildlife, and showing up on our beaches while we are on holidays," he said.

"We think it's absolutely critical that we get cracking on it."

Mr Garrett did not specify whether he favoured an outright ban or whether shoppers would be charged for plastic bags.

Several countries have or are considering taking action to reduce the use of plastic bags.

On Wednesday, the US city of New York passed a bill requiring large shops to provide recycling bins for plastic bags.

Other US cities, such as San Francisco, have already banned plastic bags from grocery shops.

In Ireland, meanwhile, under a law passed in 2002, shoppers are charged for every plastic bag they use.

China announces plastic bag ban
09 Jan 08 |  Asia-Pacific
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19 Dec 07 |  Wiltshire

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