Australian consumers are facing a plastic bag revolution in just days and major changes will take effect in NSW and Western Australia in the coming weeks.
NSW will ban lightweight plastic bags from June 1, while Woolworths supermarket will stop selling its 15c reusable plastic bags in all stores in WA from July.
The supermarket giant will not offer its paper, green fabric and Bag for Good alternatives until a nationwide ban on plastic bags comes into effect from July.
“Over the next month, we will gradually phase out plastic shopping bags from our stores and online orders across WA as we take steps to support the WA government’s forthcoming plastic bag ban,” said Karl Weber, Woolworths general manager.
Woolworths stops selling its 15c reusable plastic bags in all stores in Western Australia
Over 80 percent of shoppers bring their own bags to supermarkets – meaning the latest change will affect a small number of shoppers
“With this change, more than 30 million plastic bags will be removed from circulation in WA each year, a major victory for the health of our oceans and waterways.
“While our paper bags remain available, the most durable bag you can use is the reusable one you bring from home.”
More than 80 percent of shoppers bring their own bags to supermarkets – meaning the latest change will affect a small number of shoppers.
“The vast majority of our customers bring all their own reusable bags to the store, which is the best result for the environment, and we encourage customers to keep up the great work,” said Mr. Weber.
“We know that the change this new WA legislation will bring may be an adjustment for some customers and we thank them in advance for their support as we all work together to become greener.”
Customers are reminded of the impending change through in-store advertisements.
Environment Minister Reece Whitby said the state is leading the way in banning single-use plastics across Australia.
“Western Australia has a strong track record of reducing single-use plastics in the environment, having been named the highest jurisdiction in the country by WWF Australia two years in a row for the work being done.” , he said.
“The WA community has shown overwhelming support for this – and I want to thank everyone, including Woolworths, who have embraced these important changes.”
The supermarket giant will only offer its bags made of paper, fabric and Bag for Good from July
The paper bag costs 20 cents and can carry up to 6 kg of groceries.
Woolworths was the first supermarket to eliminate single-use plastic bags in 2018.
The reusable plastic bag was introduced for 15 cents and was sold as a cheaper alternative to the 99c cloth bags.
Plastic items will be banned in Western Australia in two phases.
The first phase includes banning thick plastic bags, plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, stirrers, straws, takeaway polystyrene food and inflating helium balloons.
The second phase bans thin plastic bags containing products, swabs with plastic cartridges, polystyrene packaging, microspheres, oxo-degradable plastics, takeaway coffee cups and lids, and polystyrene cups.
This change will take effect at the end of 2022.
Companies that ignore the ban risk hefty fines of up to $5,000.
Meanwhile, the NSW Environment Protection Authority outlined more details about other products facing the state’s impending ban.
Items in the firing line include single-use plastic utensils, straws, stirrers, plates, bowls, chopsticks, and sporks.
Other products that are being phased out are cotton swabs and expanded polystyrene (EPS) foods.
Plastic microspheres found in rinse-off personal care products — used for exfoliating and scrubbing — will also be banned.
The supply of all these materials will be phased out as of November 1, 2022.
The NSW Parliament passed ‘groundbreaking’ legislation last November that will phase out the supply of problematic single-use plastic items.
Environment Minister Reece Whitby said the state is leading the way in banning single-use plastics and said the WA community had shown overwhelming support for this.
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