Woolworths offers free reusable bags to help customers adjust to bag ban

Woolworths customers in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia will be provided with free reusable bags from Friday until July 8.

Woolworths says it will hand out free reusable bags for the next 10 days as its customers get used to its ban on single-use plastic bags.

Woolies stores in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia stopped providing free single-use plastic bags last week and the offer of the reusable bags - which would normally cost 15 cents - will only apply in those states and until July 8.

"Since we phased out single-use plastic bags nationwide on the 20th of June, some customers have told us that getting into the habit of bringing their own reusable bags has been a challenge," Woolworths managing director Claire Peters said in a statement.

"We’ve listened to these customers and heard they just want a little extra help from us to get through the transition to a more sustainable way of shopping.

"This will not only help support customers as they work to form new habits, but also ensure they’ll have reusable bags on hand when they next choose to shop with us."

Rival Coles is also set to phase out plastic bags this weekend, with the supermarket giant saying it's taking extra steps to protect staff for "bag rage".

A spokesman for Coles told SBS News that all checkouts will be open nationally between 10am and 6pm the day the ban begins.

WA Environment Minister, Stephen Dawson, welcomes the states upcoming bag ban and says the WA Government is looking at other ways to tackle plastic waste.
Source: SBS

A Senate Inquiry recommended banning all single-use plastics in the next 5 years – a sentiment echoed by WA Environment Minister, Stephen Dawson.

"We're looking at how we can phase out other single-use plastics on a national level," he said. "Ministers for the environment met recently, we’ve committed to the phasing out or the 100% recycling, reuse or compostability of single-use plastics over the next few years."

Environment groups have welcomed the recommendation and believe the bag ban is the first step in moving towards a more sustainable and lower plastic future.

Piers Verstegen from the Conservation Council of WA says the move has been a long time coming.

"There’s actually a lot of support out there in the community for reducing the use of these single-use plastics, and straws and takeaway containers are the next logical step," he said.

"We need to get to the source of the problem and stop this proliferation of single-use plastic, which has been taking over from other products. We need to go back to the types of products that can be recycled, composted or re-used."

Supermarkets aren’t the only retailers trying to reduce their environmental footprint, with some finding their own ways to recycle any plastic they have left over.

WA's Dinner Twist already reduce the use of plastics in their meal kits and work directly with a recycling company for any plastic that is needed.
Source: SBS

WA's Dinner Twist work directly with their suppliers and a specialist recycling company to ensure any plastic and styrofoam they use in their dinner boxes can be completely recycled.

Company founders My and Christoffer Tistrand set up the business after moving to Australia from Sweden and say sustainability was a key part of their business.

“Everything that we put into our boxes, we make sure we can take it back," says Christoffer. "When we use soft plastic, we make sure that our customers actually put them back into the box and we take them to a special processing facility.”

"We think it's really important to take that responsibility as a business and make sure that we're not increasing the landfill that is already happening."

The ACT, South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania already have single-use bag bans in place, with Western Australia and Queensland joining them on July 1st as new legislation comes into place.

Victoria announced earlier this week they will join the ban in 2019, leaving New South Wales as the only state without plans to phase out the bags.

 - With AAP

Published 29 June 2018 at 9:50am, updated 29 June 2018 at 10:30pm
By Kyle Brown