June 20 - It's a Red Letter Day here at Boomerang Alliance as Woolworths' highly anticipated lightweight plastic bag ban finally comes into effect - kicking off a tsunami of legislation and industry phase-out action taking place across Australia in the coming weeks and months.
Following years of campaigning by Boomerang Alliance, the retailer giant announced the ban on July 14 2017 with the intention of implementing action within 12 months. And with mere weeks to go to the deadline, Woolworths have stayed true to their word.
From today, across 995 supermarket outlets and over 1200 BWS locations, 3.2 BILLION lightweight plastic bags PER YEAR will be removed from circulation.
Customers will be no longer be given free single-use plastic bags - less than 35 microns in thickness - from June 20. They will instead have to bring along re-usable bags or buy them at the retailer's supermarkets, BWS, Metro and petrol outlets.
'This is a landmark day for us, not just as a business but for our customers and communities, to help support a greener future for Australia," Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said in a statement.
'We are proud to say that from now on, single-use plastic bags are gone from our stores, for good.'
The move comes ten days before Coles introduce similar action on July 1 which also coincides with WA and Queensland's statewide legislation - welcomed as huge steps in Australia's environmental protection practices. And with Victoria soon to announce their deadline, NSW will soon be the only state without legislation.
'We are pleased to see both Woolworths and Coles are taking the initiative to eliminate free, lightweight shopping bags from their stores,' Boomerang Alliance deputy director Jayne Paramor said. 'This move will have a significant impact on the dangerous pollution caused by bags escaping into the environment, particularly in NSW, which remains the only Australian state yet to legislate a plastic bag ban.
Woolworths shoppers will now be encouraged to use their own reusable canvas bags and bags for life.
And for those who forget to bring them, the retailer will be providing reusable thicker plastic bags at 15 cents per purchase. This move however is seen as an unwelcome alternative.
'We encourage shoppers to choose environmentally sustainable alternatives like paper, cotton or calico, rather than simply buying heavier-weight plastic bags when they do their weekly shop,' Jayne added. 'If we make a conscientious change to our behaviour and choose the most environmentally friendly option, we’ll see the tide of plastic bag pollution starting to turn.'
Lightweight plastic bags are responsible for the deaths of over 100,000 marine animals in Australia's waters every year.
Turtles, dolphins, and whales can choke or starve by confusing plastic bags for jellyfish.