Marny Bonner, co-founder of Ballina’s Australian Seabird Rescue, wants the Ballina Shire to become a plastic bag-free shire because of the damage the bags are doing wildlife, especially to marine animals like sea turtles.
Marny Bonner, co-founder of Ballina’s Australian Seabird Rescue, wants the Ballina Shire to become a plastic bag-free shire because of the damage the bags are doing wildlife, especially to marine animals like sea turtles. Cathy Adams

Seabird Rescue bags plastic 'time-bombs'

PLASTIC bags are like floating time-bombs for our marine life, and Marny Bonner wants to get rid of them for good.

At a Ballina Shire Council meeting last Thursday, the co-founder of Australian Seabird Rescue told councillors how sea turtles think plastic bags are jellyfish, whales ingest them when they open their giant mouths to feed, birds and platypus get tangled in them and sheep die in agony after eating them in their paddocks.

“Plastic bags take centuries to break down and go on killing for hundreds of years,” Ms Bonner said.

“It will take a few years to reverse our minds being set on plastic.

“But the best way to start is in a small town like Lennox Head, which has no big chain supermarkets.”

At the meeting, councillors asked for a report to be prepared identifying options for a community-based program that replaces throw-away plastic bags with reusable bags.

Ms Bonner said 20 million people used four billion plastic bags in Australia each year, and 50 million of them were thrown out, with 70 per cent ending up in our waterways.

Cr Jeff Johnson moved the motion to calling for the staff report, seconded by Cr Peter Moore, saying the council needed to move away from being a 'throw away society'.

“Plastic bags, lids, bottles, straws and cigarette butts pollute our parks, beaches and waterways,” Cr Jeff Johnson said.

“Plastic bags in particular kill local animals and marine life. With just a small behavioural shift we could win many positive outcomes for Ballina's environment.”

Cr Johnson also moved a motion for the council to sign up to the Bottled Water Alliance and not provide bottled water at council facilities and events.

He said reducing the amount of plastic bottles used would help reduce the shire's carbon footprint.

Most councillors were supportive of the idea, but some had questions about how it would be implemented, including what alternatives were available and whether it would apply to just bottled water or all plastic bottles.

The council voted to have a report prepared on the matter.



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