The decision by Australia’s two biggest supermarkets to ban single-use plastic bags this year has already meant 1.5 billion fewer of them have ended up in the environment.
Coles and Woolworths’ decision to stop offering the disposable plastic bags by the end of August was initially met with swift public backlash.
But three months on the radical change has translated to an 80 per cent drop in the consumption of plastic bags nationwide, according to the National Retail Association.
The decision by Australia’s two biggest supermarkets to ban single-use plastic bags this year has already meant 1.5 billion fewer of them have ended up in the environment
‘Some retailers are reporting reduction rates as high as 90 per cent,’ the NRA’s David Stout said on Sunday.
Mr Stout added the ban was a ‘brave’ and has paved the way for smaller businesses, who typically can’t afford to risk the wrath of their customers, to follow suit.
‘Supermarkets are seen as the product stewards so a lot of people will come back to them,’ Mr Stout 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.’
Mr Stout is hopeful major retailers will continue to lead the charge towards a more sustainable industry an ban forms of single-use packaging.
‘Everyone delivering things in a package needs 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.’
With NSW the only state or territory in Australia that has not legislated a phase-out of plastic bags, Mr Stout said it is time to step up and quit relying on the supermarket ban to do the work.
‘We’re still seeing a lot of small to medium bags being used, especially in the food category, and while I get some comfort the majors have done this voluntarily I think there still needs to be a ban in place,’ he said.
Coles said they were ‘delighted’ by the positive reaction of customers to the policy change (stock image)
‘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.’
Coles said they were ‘delighted’ by the positive reaction of customers to the policy change.
A spokesman added: ‘For those that do forget to bring bags from home, Coles sells reusable Community Bags which help to raise funds for SecondBite, Little Athletics Australia, Guide Dogs Australia and Clean Up Australia.
‘These durable, multi-use bags have been designed by school kids across Australia as part of a bag design competition.’
A Woolworths spokesman added their customers were forming new habits, while saying they were responsible for taking more than 700 million of the bags out of circulation.
The spokesman said: ‘We’re grateful for our customers’ patience and support during this transition to a more sustainable way of shopping.’