Ban removed 1.5 billion single-use bags since July

plastic bagsAustralia has eliminated a total of 1.5 billion single-use plastic carry bags since its major supermarkets implemented self-imposed bans in July, according to the National Retail Association (NRA).

Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths scrapped single-use plastic carry bags and a state-wide ban also came into effect in Queensland.

NRA manager of Industry Policy David Stout said in a statement over the weekend that since the ban, overall bag consumption dropped by over 80 per cent.

“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,” Stout said.

“The NRA has calculated that 1.5 billion bags have been saved since July 1 when Queensland banned the single use plastic carry bag. The bulk of shoppers now use their own bags, which has been instrumental in reducing the number of plastic bags being consumed. Indeed, some retailers are reporting reduction rates as high as 90 per cent.”

He applauds retailers who led the way to making “significant changes to consumer behaviour in generation” and shoppers who have made some shopping changes to help save the environment.

“The major supermarkets have also diverted the profits from the sales of alternative bags to the community sector, with groups such as Landcare, Clean Up Australia, Little Athletics Australia, SecondBite and Guide Dog being the beneficiaries,” he added.

“Nationwide 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.”

NRA is Australia’s largest and most representative retail industry association.  It has been serving businesses in the retail and fast food sectors for close to 100 years.

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