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Plastic bag ban takes effect in Victoria

Shoppers leave a Sainsbury??s store with their purchases in plastic bags on February 29, 2008 in London, England. The Prime Minister Gordon Brown has stated that he will force retailers to help reduce the use of plastic bags if they do not do so voluntarily.

Victoria has commenced a plastic bag ban today, Friday, with retailers across the state subject to hefty fines if they provide the bags to customers.

NSW is now the only state in Australia that has not abolished the use of plastic bags.

The National Retail Association (NRA) is working with the Victorian Government to help retailers adjust to the ban.

NRA officers have visited 180 metropolitan and regional locations since March and worked with 13,000 businesses and shopping centres to educate them on the bags types that are acceptable.

NRA chief executive office Dominique Lamb said that most retailers have already switched to alternatives such as recycled paper or reusable plastic.

“We’ve also helped thousands of businesses through our Tollfree Bag Ban Hotline and our dedicated website which offers a whole suite of fact sheets, posters and translated material,” Lamb said.

The NRA is confident that officials will focus their efforts on “educating, rather than punishing” those who are still coming to terms with the new rules.

In September supermarket giant Coles reported an increase in the recycling of its soft plastics as it introduces REDcycle bins at stores. While rival grocery Woolworths recently began trialing the sale of paper bags in stores.

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