Australian Supermarkets and the War on Plastic Bags

For many years, there has been a push for Australian supermarkets to get rid of plastic bags. It’s estimated that Australian retailers give away roughly 6 billion plastic bags each year. Certain supermarket chains, such as Aldi, don’t provide free plastic bags to their customers, instead offering shoppers the option of buying more durable and reusable plastic bags or bring their own. Woolworths and Coles are to follow suit soon.

In September 2017, the Queensland Parliament passed laws to ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags by mid-2018 – with retailers facing fines of $3,000 for instances of flouting the laws.

How Does Australia Compare Worldwide?

Plastic bags have been in use since the 1960s when they were first developed for use in Sweden before spreading worldwide. For many years now, countries have seen the negative effects of plastic bags.

Denmark was the first to start banning and/or discouraging the use of plastic bags – imposing additional taxes and costs on producers of bags since 1993. These costs were passed along to customers and there has been a 60% reduction in their use since then.

Supermarkets in Germany voluntarily stopped giving away free plastic bags (hence why Aldi here has long adopted the scheme) in favour of charging for reusable bags. There has been a 1 billion bag reduction in Germany since 2000.

In England, in September 2015, all free plastic carrier bags were banned. Instead, retailers could charge for a bag, leading to an 85% decrease in the first six months of implementation

What Positive Effects Can We See in Australia? 

In Australia, there have been partial implementations of bans and encouragement for the reduction of bag usage for many years. And we can see some of the positive results.

Bunnings Warehouse implemented a charge for plastic bags and has reported an 80% reduction in their use. Meanwhile Coles, Woolworths and IGA undertook a 2008 trial across three Victorian regional towns where they charged for plastic bags, leading to a 79% reduction.

 The Official Ban

Queensland’s ban on free plastic bags will take effect from the middle of 2018. The Environment Minister claimed that voluntary measures undertook several years ago by retailers saw a 44% drop in plastic bag usage – but that usage rose again once retailers resumed supplying bags for free. The Queensland Government has considered the issue too urgent to wait for the other eastern states to get on board and is pushing ahead with the program. South Australia, ACT, the Northern Territory and Tasmania already have such bans in place.

Recycling Starts with All of Us

We at Dolphin Plastics & Packaging are committed to recycling plastic and reducing the number of plastic bags polluting our environment – hence we’ve taken measures to improve recycling and environmental sustainability in general. Contact us today to discuss our sustainable plastics solutions.