Australia Has Cut Its Plastic Bag Use By 80 Percent In Just 3 Months


Australia has slashed its plastic bag habit by up to 80 percent within just three months, according to Australia's National Retail Association, which is some great news for platypuses, dugongs, and pig-nosed turtles. Remarkably, this drop in plastic bag consumption did not come directly from any government policy, it was effectively a business decision. This sharp turn around is largely thanks to two of the largest supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, deciding to implement a nationwide ban on free lightweight plastic grocery bags in July, replacing them with reusable bags sold for 15 cents.

In total, it has potentially prevented as many as 1.5 billion bags from entering the environment.

“Retailers deserve an enormous amount of kudos for leading the way on one of the most significant changes to consumer behavior in generations and we also applaud shoppers for embracing this environmental initiative,” David Stout, Manager of Industry Policy at the National Retail Association, said in a statement.

“Nation-wide retailers have led the way and as a result also assisted smaller businesses in providing a template on how to manage the transition to a plastic bag-free retail environment. As a result, we are seeing similar changes made across the food, homeware, and service categories.”

The phase-out of lightweight plastic bags down under is being pursued by authorities on a regional level, as opposed to national. Plastic bag bans are in place or pending in most states and territories in Australia, except the eastern state of New South Wales – Australia's most populated state.

However, the decision by the big Aussie chains didn’t come easily. Coles appeared slightly reluctant to impose the ban, flip-flopping back and forth on their plans several times after shoppers objected to the change.

“The decision by certain retailers to no longer offer free single-use plastic carry bags certainly received a hostile response from some shoppers initially, but these retailers deserve credit for dramatically reducing the number of bags in circulation,” added Stout.

While many regions and nations across the world have started to implement plastic bag bans, there’s still a long way to go when we talk about plastic pollution in general.

Comments

  1. That this was done by leadership in business sector is remarkable and empowering!

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  2. stating this was purely a business sector lead is incorrect. Most States have a government ban, the exception is NSW. The major supermarkets announced, and well done to them, that they would ban lightweight bags, because QLD and WA announced State bans. Other jurisdictions, such as SA, ACT, NT and Tasmania have had state bans for years.

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  3. I'm not going to give them credit for this when they were the ones that were hurting the planet with plastic bags the most in the first place. Especially since plastic bags used to be free but now they're making bank off us having to pay for bags that wont help destroy the planet. They made a problem, fixed it with money that isn't even their own, and we should...praise them for that?

    They're literally only doing this because they realised they could make even more money by selling bag alternatives to plastic bags AND get really good PR for looking like they actually care about the environment. Don't get me wrong, this is a good thing for the environment that I am ultimately grateful for, but don't be fooled that the rich would do anything like this without getting immediate gains in return (either in the form of monetary gains or social clout that then leads to more money).

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    1. What a hateful response. I have reusable bags that I paid anywhere from 50 cents to 1.00 for. I can only assume 15 cents is their cost for the reusable bags. If they bought them and provided them for free, people would just take them home and throw them away or neglect to bring them back with them, because...hey!, they're free! Just look at Coles waffling on instituting the program because of kickback from customers. People are the problem, not the companies.

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    2. Plastic grocery bags cost about 3 cents. Only a very tiny fraction end up floating around. 15 cents is simply a rip. The real problem is as you say, people. If you look where trash is and try and ascertain how it got there initially you will see a small group of pigs. The second set of problems is design such as six-pack rings which is a container that should be banned. Then comes product like fish line and fish nets. Last but not the least is poorly run collection systems. It would be nice if common sense prevailed in the war against trash. As for the pigs, hang 'em high.

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    3. That is quite cynical.

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    4. I would rather pay a few cents or dollars for reusable bags today than the high price of the damage of the planet and how much that will cost in dollars as well as the other high price we pay. And I guess its not only the greedy rich people that just worry about $$$$

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  4. I've used reusable bags for years! And they last for years! It's a no brainer. Public awareness of the damage that single use plastics (particularly) do is growing, and that is heartening. I'm pleased that the big supermarket chains are doing their bit to reduce the pollution that kills off birds and marine life. As Tim Minchin sang in 2007, "take your canvas bags to the supermarket...." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EVh15aUt8-c

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  5. Are the reusable bags made out of non-gmo cotton or hemp? Otherwise, polyester or nylon bags are still a problem!!

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    1. (but still a good / GREAT step in the right direction)

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    2. I've used re-usable bags for years. Probably before gmo existed. Altho your nose is in the air about "generic" bags or profit of selling bags, reusable is an answer to one use plastic. I'm also not a baby, I don't need a sippy cup. I carry a reusable drink bottle and reusable chop sticks to eat. It's a habit, I carry my reusable bags in the trunk, carry them in to shop, hang on the doorknob after unloading at home so the next trip the go back to the trunk. Most of my clothing is usable, too. I shop consignment stores.

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  6. Great attitude! I've been using my own cloth bag for years and do not see the point of putting everything into plastic bags :/

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  7. why don't the supermarkets sell reusable PAPER bags like they used to in the 1960's and 70's? These are eminently biodegradable. Selling plastic bags is a terrible cop-out on their part

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    1. UMM Any consumer in 2019 who uses plastic bags is at fault, We as consumers make choices. Copping out by saying its the governments fault is just trash thinking

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