Indigo Shire's plastic-free plan considered in neighbouring North East councils

BE PREPARED: Cr Jenny O'Connor is one Beechworth resident to keep a reusable bottle and shopping bag in her car. Picture: ELENOR TEDENBORG

BE PREPARED: Cr Jenny O'Connor is one Beechworth resident to keep a reusable bottle and shopping bag in her car. Picture: ELENOR TEDENBORG

One small municipality’s idea to reduce the amount of plastic bags and bottles could be about to spread through the North East.

Indigo Council supported an idea from Cr Jenny O’Connor back in March to make the anti-plastic plan an official policy.

A group of about 30 people met last week to discuss how to make it happen.

The council’s environment advisory chair Jane Roots said a subcommittee of about 10 people was formed, ready to promote their vision.

Attendees at the meeting included representatives from Wodonga, Wangaratta and Benalla councils.

Ms Roots said Beechworth was a progressive community which had embraced the challenge to avoid plastic.

“What we’re hoping is to extend that in the North East,” she said.

“It’s just finding out how we can work together.”

The municipalities are in caretaker mode ahead of the election, meaning they cannot make any binding decisions, but Ms Roots said they showed a keen interest.

Indigo Council had plans to install water bubblers, making it more convenient for people to carry metal bottles to refill rather than disposable plastic ones.

Beechworth Chamber of Commerce was also onside, pursuing the use of recyclable bags across the shire.

Bags featuring an individual town – Beechworth, Chiltern, Rutherglen or Yackandandah – were being considered.

The newly formed subcommittee aimed to educate the community on the harm of plastic bag pollution and help businesses lead the way.

“It comes down to businesses changing their behaviour because businesses have a responsibility to their customers,” Ms Roots said.

She said she would be happy to work with any of the councillors elected next month, but would particularly welcome those with an environmental focus.

Cr Jenny O’Connor, who was standing for re-election, said she supported any ideas to help reduce pollution from plastic bags and bottles.

She said plastic bottles and bags should not be completely banned, but residents and tourists should be encouraged to use the bubblers on the street or in shops.

“The town benefits from it and attracts visitors,” Cr O’Connor said.

“It would be a really big innovation in North East Victoria … It’s early days, but I’m excited and it shows Indigo Shire is punching above its weight.”

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