Three months after Coles and Woolworths made the decision to stop offering free single-use plastic bags in stores across Australia, the country's plastic bag use has dropped by a whopping 80 per cent — that's around 1.5 billion less plastic bags being introduced into the environment.
Despite a shaky rollout of the bag ban back in June with free bag grace periods being extended to calm the wrath of angry, bag-reliant shoppers, Australians seem to have settled now into their new plastic bag free way of life.
Turns out Australians aren't quite ready to live a life without plastic bags just yet. In the wake of Woolworths removing single-use plastic bags entirely from its stores last week, the company has backflipped on that decision.
The NRA (National Retail Association) has applauded the moves made against single-use plastic earlier this year, both the bans by big retailers and a state-wide ban in Queensland around the same time. NRA Manager of Industry Policy David Stout noted that it was a brave move by retailers considering the backlash, but has ultimately resulted in changing our shopping culture.
With more consumers getting into the habit of bringing their own bags at the big supermarkets, smaller retailers have been able to ride that change and get rid of bags themselves without fear of backlash that could be dangerous for a smaller business.
"Nation-wide retailers have led the way and as a result also assisted smaller businesses in providing a template on how manage the transition to a plastic bag-free retail environment," Mr Stout said. "As a result, we are seeing similar changes made across the food, homeware and service categories."
"The bulk of shoppers now use their own bags, which has been instrumental in reducing the number of plastic bags being consumed," He added. "Indeed, some retailers are reporting reduction rates as high as 90 per cent."