Australia's Plastic Bag Consumption Has Dropped By 80% Since Supermarket Ban

by: Lucy Jones | 1 year ago | News

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Earlier this year, two of Australia's biggest supermarket chains banned plastic bags and, guess what, the world didn't end! In the face of public outrage over the loss of the nation's beloved plastic bags, Coles and Woolworths have (mostly) stuck by their bans on single-use disposable plastic bags.

Instead of ending after the ban was introduced, the world actually got a little bit better. According to the National Retail Association, the supermarket ban has kept 1.5 billion plastic bags out of circulation. Plastic bag consumption has also dropped by 80% nationwide as small businesses follow the lead of Coles and Woolworths. 

“Some retailers are reporting reduction rates as high as 90%,” the NRA’s David Stout said.

Stout said that small business owners feel more comfortable enforcing their own single-use plastic bans now that consumers are expected to bring their own bags to Coles and Woolworths.

"[Supermarkets are] seen as the product stewards so a lot of people will come back to them,” he said. 

“Obviously the best thing for smaller businesses is to either engineer out the bag completely or have the customer pay ... they should be able to consider that strategy without fear of backlash.”

While we are moving in the right direction, Stout said that the war on waste doesn't end with single-use plastic bags.

“Everyone delivering things in a package need to take responsibility for what they deliver it in,” he said.

“I think there’s going to be a lot more pressure on all of us to be more aware of what we consume.”

New South Wales is the only Australian state or territory that has not introduced a plan to phase out single-use plastic bags. Stout said that it is time for the state government to take action on this issue instead of continuing to rely on voluntary bans. 

“We’re still seeing a lot of small to medium bags being used, especially in the food category, and whilst I get some comfort that the majors have done this voluntarily I think there still needs to be a ban in place,” he said.

“For business, for the environment, for the consumer and of course even for councils which have to work to remove these things from landfills, there’s a multitude of benefits on a whole to doing this.” 

Via The Guardian.

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