Locals shopping at Woolworths, Coles and Big W will have to get used to the idea of remembering to bring their own bags as the stores go single-use plastic bag free.
While new laws don’t compel plastic bags to be banned in NSW, leading retailers are doing it anyway.
Woolworths and Coles stores will no longer offer single-use plastic bags to customers from June 20.
Local Woolworths Operations Manager, Imran Yousaf, said the move would help to create a greener future for Australia.
“At Woolworths we are committed to listening to our customers and also doing the right thing for the environment,” he said.
“We appreciate that it will be a big change for our customers and we’ll do what we can to support them through the transition to make it as smooth and simple as possible.”
Across Australia the ban of the bags in Woolworths stores will see the removal of 3.2 billion lightweight plastic bags from circulation each year.
Planet Ark CEO, Paul Klymenko, said this move would have a huge impact on the environment.
“Single-use plastic bags have become a huge problem for Australia’s oceans and waterways where they cause significant harm to marine life, such as turtles and whales,” he said.
“Experience in countries like the UK and Ireland shows that the introduction of small charges on plastic bags can end up reducing plastic bag usage by up to 85 per cent.”
Customers who don’t bring their own bags to Woolworths will instead have access to a range of alternative shopping bag options in store, with thicker reusable plastic bags starting at 15 cents.
By June 30, Woolworths will also offer flexible plastic recycling options in all supermarkets via the REDcycle program, where customers can return soft plastic packaging which will then be turned into recycled plastic products such as outdoor furniture.
Coles also announced they were drastically reducing the amount of plastic packaging used on their fresh produce.
South Australia, ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania already have plastic bag bans in place, with Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria to follow.
Lauren Suttie is the Weekender’s General & Community News journalist.