Goodbye plastic bags, Woolworths kicks off plastic-free shopping

Single-use plastic bags will no longer be given out at Woolworths stores. Photo: Tamara Voninski
Single-use plastic bags will no longer be given out at Woolworths stores. Photo: Tamara Voninski

Woolworths has bid farewell to single-use plastic bags under a new ban across the retail giant's stores

From Wednesday, shoppers must bring along re-usable bags or buy them at the retailer's supermarkets, BWS, Metro and petrol outlets.

"This is a landmark day for us, not just as a business, but for our customers and communities, to help support a greener future for Australia," chief executive Brad Banducci said on Wednesday.

"We are proud to say that from now on, single-use plastic bags are gone from our stores, for good."

Mr Banducci acknowledged it could take shoppers a while to adjust to the ban.

"Putting 'reusable bags' at the top of your shopping list, keeping a couple in the car or leaving a post-it note on the fridge are some simple tricks that could work as a reminder," he said.

Woolworths and Coles last July joined a push to rid Australia of disposable plastic bags and set a deadline of June 30, 2018 for their stores to stop offering them to shoppers.

Woolies, which has provided more than 3.2 billion plastic bags a year to shoppers, later brought forward that deadline to June 20.

Green groups have welcomed the bans being introduced by Coles and Woolworths.

Similar bans in Britain and Ireland have helped reduce plastic bag usage by up to 85 per cent.

Woolworths and Coles have also recently announced plans to slash the amount of plastic wrapping on fresh fruit and vegetables in response to demand from shoppers.

Rugby League legend Mal Meninga is the National Retail Association's plastic bag ban ambassador.

Rugby League legend Mal Meninga is the National Retail Association's plastic bag ban ambassador.

With Woolworths kicking off its ban on Wednesday and Coles on July 1, National Plastic Bag Campaign co-founder Jon Dee has some tips to help shoppers adjust.

* What can I use instead to line my bins?

  • Rubbish can be put straight into bins, which should be washed every few weeks
  • Food and compostable items can go in compost bins, with recyclables into recycling bins
  • People who live in flats can wrap food and compostable items in newspaper before placing in a bin
  • Smelly rubbish like prawn shells can be wrapped in newspaper and frozen until rubbish collection night
  • Newspaper can also be used to line bathroom bins

* What can dog owners use to clean up droppings?

  • A good alternative is empty bread bags as they are made of thicker plastic

* What do I use to pack my supermarket shopping in?

  • Bring reusable bags to the shops
  • For the first few weeks leave the bags on the front seat of the car as a reminder to take them into the supermarket
  • Woolies and Coles will sell reusable bags priced from 15 cents in store
  • Woolies online shoppers will be able to buy reusable plastic bags for $1 per order, or pay $3.50 for a crate-to-bench home delivery service
  • Coles online shoppers will have their goods delivered for free in crates, or pay 15 cents for reusable bags

Australian Associated Press – Belinda Tasker

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