Supermarkets start abandoning heavyweight plastic bags but not providing genuine reusable alternatives

Western Australia banned heavyweight plastic bags in 2022, Queensland will follow this September. South Australia and the ACT will act soon. The bans are forcing the major supermarkets to abandon their 15 or 25 cent plastic bags.

The Boomerang Alliance is concerned that the alternatives now being proposed, so called 'reusable' or paper bags, are not the answer. Paper is another single-use, disposable product, and the 'reusable' bags currently available to do not meet a genuine reusable standard. They are called reusable because they are a bit thicker. Most are just greenwash products.

The Boomerang Alliance and our allies have proposed a Reusable Bag Standard that should be regulated in every State and Territory to ensure that only bags tested against this standard can be sold as reusable bags.

The standard we have proposed is based upon an international standard, and requires that reusable bags are manufactured and used as multiple use products.

We have urged all Australian Government to adopt this as a mandated, national standard and applied to all retailers.

Our proposed standard:

  • bags must be independently tested against a 125 shopping cycle requirement
  • strong, durable, with (industrially stitched handles)
  • a minimum thickness above 70 microns (we recommend min 100 micron as used in Europe)
  • Not contain hazardous substances or components that would inhibit recycling
  • have a minimum 80% recycled content (when plastic)
  • minimum price to encourage reuse. We suggest at least $2 and note that supermarkets already sell their better bags at this price point
  • branded with a reusable label to show they meet the standard
  • collected at end of life by retailers for recycling