Australian states and territories, except NSW, will have plastic bag bans take effect by the end of the year.
NRA manager of Industry Policy David Stout said that it’s eyeing the success it had in Queensland and Western Australia as retailers transition from using plastic to reusable bags.
“The removal of lightweight plastic shopping bags is one of the biggest reforms to happen in the retail sector in a generation and it’s important that it’s done right. It’s a major behavioural change for shoppers, and retailers need to be adequately prepared for the reform,” said Stout.
He said that the NRA and Victorian retailers are working together to explain the policy change and give advice on using sustainable packaging options that retailers can adopt once the plastic bag ban is implemented.
“In Queensland and Western Australia, the NRA engaged over 20,000 businesses in assisting with the transition away from lightweight plastic shopping bags. It’s important to remember that bag ban legislation applies to all retailers, large and small – from supermarkets to pharmacies, from fast food outlets to petrol stations,” explained Stout.
“For many businesses, giving a free plastic shopping bag to every customer incurs substantial costs to their business and they will need to consider a range of available alternatives which could either increase or reduce business costs.
“In addition, retailers who do not comply with the new laws when they come into effect will be exposed to substantial fines, risk disrupting their business and upsetting customers if they fail to prepare for the transition.”
Stout further said that the Victorian bag ban is the first step, but not the only step, in reducing plastic pollution across the state.
“In Queensland, which introduced its ban six months ago, the majority of shoppers have adjusted extremely well to bringing their own bags, and are not replacing like-for-like with compliant bags, so much so that retailers are reporting up to 90 per cent drop in total bag consumption. We are also continuing to work with retailers and state governments on further initiatives to help reduce plastic pollution and improve Australia’s environment,” added Stout.
The NRA will start working with Victorian retailers in March 2019. It will also launch a website and hotline for plastic bag ban information.