Lake Macquarie shops don’t wait for bag ban

IN THE BAG: Lake Macquarie Kay Fraser (second from left) at the Blackalls Park Friendly Grocer bag swap station with Nico Marcar, Ami Bulloch, Jack Robertshaw and Robyn Charlton.
IN THE BAG: Lake Macquarie Kay Fraser (second from left) at the Blackalls Park Friendly Grocer bag swap station with Nico Marcar, Ami Bulloch, Jack Robertshaw and Robyn Charlton.

AS the state faces pressure to ban single-use plastic bags, a coalition of Lake Macquarie groups has set up a bag-swap scheme in local supermarkets.

The Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance, backed by Lake Macquarie council, has established bag-swap stations at the Blackalls Park Friendly Grocer, Boolaroo IGA and several shops in Redhead Village.

Customers can pick up reusable shopping bags at each of the stores and donate their own clean bags. 

“Our customers have been very appreciative of the spare reusable bags,” Blackalls Park Friendly Grocer manager Ash Sharma said.

“We like being able to offer an alternative to a plastic bag, and we know that our local wildlife and marine animals will benefit.”

The scheme is designed to expand into more shops, the Sustainable Neighbourhood Alliance’s Robyn Charlton said, with the aim of reducing soft plastic in landfill.

“We want to help our community avoid using plastic bags, especially for that ‘quick couple of things’ shop,” Ms Charlton said.

“It’s a simple system.”

The glut of plastic in Lake Macquarie consumer habits was measured by a council residential waste audit in December 2013, which found plastic bags and film accounted for five per cent by weight of materials in the general waste stream.

It would equate to about 2,500 tonnes of plastic bags and film going into landfill per year. The council has a target of reducing the waste going into landfill by three-quarters by 2023.

“The big supermarket chains have vowed to phase out plastic bags by this time next year, so now is the time for people to start changing their habits,” Lake Macquarie mayor Kay Fraser said.

Woolworths announced it July it would phase out plastic bags over a year, replacing them with heavier reusable bags that would cost 15 cents, and Coles has made a similar commitment.

This month Western Australia announced it would ban single-use bags from mid-2018, leaving NSW and Victoria as the only states without bans.