Reusable bag campaign launches ahead of VIC plastic bag ban

The Victorian Government has launched a campaign to encourage the use of reusable shopping bags ahead of the state’s 2019 ban on lightweight, single-use plastic bags.

The Better Bag Habits campaign urges Victorians to remember their bag, wallet, keys and phone when leaving the house. The campaign will run on social media and radio.

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Some tips the campaign will encourage will be to store reusable bags in the car, at home, work to ensure customers are always ready to shop. It also encourages the use of foldable bags that can easily fit into a pocket, handbag or backpack.

Research commissioned by Sustainability Victoria found around three quarters of Victorians already carry reusable bags when food shopping.

Younger Victorians and those on higher incomes have been the slowest to say no to single-use bags, particularly when shopping for non-food items.

The ban on single-use plastic bags will come apply to shopping bags less than 35 microns tick after community consultation found a 96 per cent of the 8000 submissions were for the ban.

The state government is also working with other states and territories to phase out thick plastic bags to further reduce plastic pollution.

Victorian Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said Victorians are already saying no to plastic bags, but this campaign will encourage it to become a habit.

“We’re stopping plastic pollution and ensuring Victorians are ready to live without single-use, lightweight plastic bags.”

No more plastic bags from Woolworths

Supermarket giant Woolworths has announced its supermarkets will no longer provide shoppers with single-use plastic bags from 20 June 2018.

The move also effects its BWS, Metro and Woolworths Petrol stores, where group wide more than 3.2 billion plastic bags are handed out each year.

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Woolworths Group stated last year that it would end the use of plastic bags by the end of June 2018 in states where there had not been a ban implemented yet.

Woolworths Group Chief Executive Officer Brad Banducci said the company feels strongly that this is the right thing to do.

“Our teams have been working hard behind the scenes to accelerate the rollout of this plan so we can start making a positive impact on the environment as quickly as possible,” Mr Banducci said.

“We know this is a big change for our customers and store teams, and we need to do all we can to make the transition as seamless as possible for both.

“To this end, we have a dozen supermarkets across Australia going single-use plastic bag free from today. We’ll closely monitor feedback from customers in these stores and apply any lessons we learn to our national rollout on 20 June.”

The 12 Woolworths stores phasing out plastic bags from today are:

  • NSW – Woolworths Marayong, Greenway Village, Dural, Mullumbimby
  • VIC – Woolworths Wyndham Vale, Taylors Lakes, Toorak
  • QLD – Woolworths Mossman, Noosa Civic
  • WA – Woolworths Singleton, South Fremantle, Cottesloe

Planet Ark Chief Executive Officer Paul Klymenko said this is a welcome move by Woolworths that will have a positive effect on the environment.

“Single-use plastic bags have become a huge problem for Australia’s oceans and waterways where they cause significant harm to turtles, whales and fish. They also don’t breakdown in landfill and require significant resources to manufacture in the first place,” Mr Klymenko said.

“Experiences in countries like the UK and Ireland have shown the introduction of small charges on plastic bags can end up reducing plastic bag usage by up to 85 percent as shoppers embrace reusable alternatives, and we have every confidence this can happen in Australia too,” he said.

Boomerang Alliance Director Jeff Angel said the community wants action on the alarming growth of plastic pollution.

“It is gratifying to see retailers like Woolworths moving on plastic bags to help save our oceans and wildlife, with international scientific consensus putting bags in the top three dangers of ingestion and entanglement of marine life,” Mr Angel said.

“We encourage shoppers to adopt reusable bags. Of course, there’s much more to do in stores to reduce our plastic footprint and we look forward to working with consumers, retailers and government to push the agenda along,” he said.

Woolworths has also said it aims to offer flexible plastic recycling options in all supermarkets via the REDcycle program. REDcycle allows customers to return soft plastic packaging used for produce, frozen food, confectionary packets and shopping bags that are then sent to recycling partners. The material collected are then turned into products like outdoor furniture.