Like It Or Not, The Plastic Bag Ban Has Been Highly Effective

Like It Or Not, The Plastic Bag Ban Has Been Highly Effective
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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.

Woolworths Just Backflipped On Banning Free Plastic Bags (For A Bit)

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.

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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.”


  • Not sure i’m convinced by “The bulk of shoppers now use their own bags”, i’d love to know how they’ve come up with that stat.

    90% of the time i’m at a self serve checkout people are simply buying the plastic bags you get at the checkout instead which they then don’t reuse and are worse for the environment than the original bags. We still have the same issue except now the supermarkets make money off the pollution.

    They should not sell any plastic based bag full stop if they actually want to do something about the issue. Currently we just have a pretty poorly applied band aid fix that they are profiting off.

    • Issues going down that path is the other options have a significantly bigger cost attached to them. By the time you get away from all the plastic bags, the manufacturing cost is so high you need to use them hundreds of times to offset it. Those green bags at Woolies are plastic by the way, you pretty much need to get to cotton or hemp bags.

      This also isn’t about doing something about the issue. Its meant to LOOK like they are, while offsetting a $250m cost and turning it into $100m revenue. Thats $350m more to a duopoly that already controls the market.

      Personally, I think the single use bags still have a role. Just limit how many you give to a shopper to a low amount, like 1 or 2.

      • If we had more consciousness about littering then the plastic-bag issue would matter less.

        Given the responses I get from people when I ask that they put whatever they just dropped on to the street into a bin – “yeah mate, where’s the bin?” – there’s an enormous amount of lazy self-entitlement about.

  • The real metric should be the effect it has had on pollution. I have stopped using bags which is great but now I buy bin liners. I don’t really know any people who use bags and throw them away empty.

  • If by successful you mean I’m saving money because I only buy exactly what I need and nothing extra then yes absolutely agree. The supermarkets get considerably less of my money ????

    Also if by successful you mean that I’m now seeing 3 times more shopping trolleys dumped around the neighbourhoods then yes very very successful.

    All this did was move the problem and save me money. ????

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