A problematic effect of the Plastic Bag Ban in various states of Australia, are reports that Compostable Bags (AS4736 Compliant) have had problems acutally degrading in compostable environments – As reported by the City of Monash in Victoria: Although the bags will break down into organic material eventually, they do not break down quickly enough for the green waste processing equipment to handle. And also, a report from the City of Maroondah in Victoria: Maroondah Council has asked residents not to put so-called compostable bags in garden waste bins. Mayor Peter Gurr said the bags “often failed to breakdown as promised” and posed a risk of contamination and increased processing costs. Acting chief executive officer Vern Steele said the cornstarch-based bags were “just not compatible” with available composting systems. Also compounding the problem are instances of companies engaging in misleading, deceptive and fraudulent conduct: From at least May 2009 it was claimed that ‘Goody’ branded plastic bags were biodegradable and compostable in accordance with the Australian Standard* and that they could be legally supplied in South Australia, when this was not the case as the bags:
- contained a heavy metal in amounts that exceeded the maximum concentration prescribed by the Australian Standard, and
- did not biodegrade, disintegrate, or compost in accordance with the criteria prescribed by the Australian Standard.
These examples of rorts and non performance, really call into question the wisdom of Government’s legislating for an “environmental winner.”