Consumer pressure bags a win: the war on plastic

Consumer pressure bags a win: the war on plastic

Image source: News Corp

By Eden Panozzo | @EdenPanozzo

Supermarket giant Woolworths is rolling out a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags, taking a step towards a more environmentally-friendly future.

Shoppers will now be required to bring their own reusable bags or purchase thicker, reusable plastic bags for 15 cents each, a policy that South Australian shoppers are already familiar with.

Australians alone use over 10 million plastic bags a day and most of them end up in landfill or the ocean, with approximately one million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals dying from plastic every year.

Queensland and Western Australia began rolling out a state-wide ban on single-use bags on July 1, with the bags having already been prohibited in South Australia, the ACT and Tasmania for some time.

Victoria is planning to implement a similar ban this year, leaving New South Wales as the only state permitting single-use, lightweight plastic bags.

In line with the movement to ban plastic straws, Woolworths is also set to ban the sale of these items as well as reduce the number of products that use plastic packaging by the end of the year.

Competition Coles have also announced a movement for reduction in waste, as well as moving their home-brand products into fully recyclable packaging.

Pressure from consumers has been a key factor in these decisions, with Woolworths paying attention to the growing importance of being environmentally-friendly in Australia, Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said in a press release.

“From the beginning, we felt strongly that this was the right thing to do and we are really pleased to see customers are behind the change as well,” Mr Banducci said.

Foodland stores at Brighton and Glenelg are looking at other environmentally-friendly options had have begun trialling a biodegradable bag made from 98 per cent corn starch.

The bags appear to be much more environmentally-friendly as they are designed to be placed in green bins to be turned into compost and will not harm marine life even if ingested.

Public awareness of the impact plastic has on the environment is ever-increasing, with strong movements to end plastic pollution supported by campaigns including The Last Straw and Responsible Cafes.

The Last Straw is a campaign that works at the problem from both ends—educating consumers about the harmful impact plastic straws have and encouraging businesses to reduce the number of plastic straws they give out.

Responsible Cafes works with venues that are interested in reducing their waste, with a goal to “change the game on single-use waste by nurturing a culture of reuse”.

More than three billion takeaway cups and lids are used every year, and most are never recycled due to the plastic lining inside the cups.

Responsible Cafes outline the benefits of eliminating takeaway cups to both the consumer and venue, and suggests customers bring their own reusable cup or choose to stay and have their coffee in-venue.

Last month service station On The Run came under fire for their decision to stop serving coffee in reusable cups due to health and safety reasons.

An On The Run spokesperson said the concern came after incidents occurred where customers brought in dirty or unhygienic reusable cups.

“We realised that there are other, more common potential health risks in us serving coffee into cups that we can’t guarantee are clean and ready to use,” the spokesperson said.

“[We] have become aware of the problem of disposable coffee cups on the environment.

“We care about this problem, so it was not easy to decide that our food-grade (but disposable) coffee cups were the only ones we feel sure about serving our coffee and tea in.”

Many cafes in Adelaide encourage their customers to bring their own cups, so be sure to remember yours next time you plan to grab a coffee on the go.

There are other simple steps we can take on an individual level to reduce our environmental impact; using a reusable drink bottle from home instead of buying a plastic bottle and investing in a set of non-plastic reusable straws.

Remembering to bring your reusable bags from home for your food shop, and ditching the disposable shavers and opting for reusable ones can also make a huge difference.

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