DOUGLAS Shire Council has voted to ban the use of glyphosate in popular areas across the Shire and place a stronger emphasis on using chemical-free alternatives.

The Glyphosate Reduction Strategy, which is a 2019-20 Operational Plan initiative, directs Council staff to use steam weeding, organic herbicides and mechanical methods, such as hand removal and brush cutting, for weed removal during grounds maintenance.

The ban extends to 133 parcels of open spaces land including playgrounds, areas near schools or childcare facilities, footpaths in CBD and retail areas and sensitive areas north of the Daintree River.

Douglas Shire Council Mayor Julia Leu said the strategy strengthened the organisation’s current efforts to move away from glyphosate.

“Council is acting on serious concerns about the use of glyphosate in public areas by building on the measures we have been working with since 2013,” she said.

“For many years, our crews have been trialling different methods, from flame weeding to steam weeding to organic herbicides, in a bid to shift the organisation’s reliance away from glyphosate.

“This strategy builds on the glyphosate ban we introduced north of the Daintree River and at playgrounds in previous years, as well as further encouraging investment in steam weeding technology for use in sensitive areas.”

Council will also increase health monitoring where there is a significant risk and introduce fit testing, tight-fitting respirators for each worker as required.

The Open Spaces team maintains 2257 hectares of green space.

Local Councils around Australia are banning the use of glyphosate, phasing it out or conducting reviews of its use because of health and safety concerns.

The bans and reviews come after chemical giant Monsanto was ordered to pay more than $300 million to a dying man in California who used Roundup, which contains glyphosate, during his job as a school grounds man.

Sydney firm LHD Lawyers is also considering a class action against Bayer (which owns Monsanto) and personal injury firm Maurice Blackburn is evaluating individual cases after it has fielded hundreds of inquiries mostly over exposure to glyphosate in the workplace.

Glyphosate will only be used when it is necessary to fulfil Council’s biosecurity obligations.

Weed management techniques

  • Steam weeding on playgrounds
  • Steam weeding treatment of assets in high pedestrian zones / public areas such as pathways and drains in CBD areas, retail areas, near restaurants etc.
  • Use of organic herbicides where suitable.
  • Hand weeding of high-profile garden beds
  • Mechanical weeding
  • Brush cutting around assets
  • Maintain Herbicide-free register
  • Flame weeding where appropriate

Removing glyphosate 

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide that works by inhibiting an enzyme found in plants; this enzyme is not found in humans. There are around 500 products containing glyphosate registered for use in Australia. Glyphosate has been registered for use in Australia for over 40 years.

In the Douglas Shire:

  • Glyphosate is banned for use at all playgrounds, areas near schools or child care facilities.
  • Glyphosate is banned for use on footpaths in CBD zones and retail areas
  • Glyphosate is not to be used in sensitive areas north of the Daintree River wherever possible (Does not include biosecurity tasks)
  • Selective herbicides (non-glyphosate products) are to be used on a case by case site specific basis
View full Glyphosate Reduction Strategy here