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Bagged out: Woolworths to phase out plastic bags within a year

Bagged out: Woolworths to phase out plastic bags within a year

The Australian Retailers Association voluntarily introduced a Plastic Shopping Bag Code of Practice between 2003 and 2005 which encouraged the use of "green bags" and was reported to have reduced plastic bag usage by 45 percent.

Woolworths' lunchtime announcement was quickly followed by a similar announcement from fierce rival Coles on Friday afternoon. All Woolworths Group stores will be forced to comply, including Woolworths supermarkets, Big W and BWS.

The company expects to start phasing out the existing bags in August.

CEO Brad Banducci said the 3.2 billion bags the group now issues annually will vanish from the network by 30 June, 2018.

"Our customers can also expect further commitments in reducing plastic use in all parts of our supply chain, especially in fruit and vegetables", added Banducci.

"This announcement by Woolworths shows they are serious about their responsibilities as one of Australia's largest supermarket chains", Greenpeace campaigner Samantha Wockner said.

In New Zealand a recent Stuff poll of 5800 readers showed 83 per cent supported the banning of plastic bags, after it was revealed Henderson Island, an uninhabited Pacific island, had an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on its beaches.

Dan Murphy's and Cellarmasters are already single-use plastic bag free.




The decision will affect stores in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia.

South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory have already met their bagless fate thanks to state-wide legislation.

A Roy Morgan Research survey in May 2017 found that Woolworths and Coles received 35.7 and 33.2 percent, respectively, of the AUD$90.3 billion (USD 70.06) Australians had spent at the supermarket checkout over the previous year. "Really, the only ones giving them out now at the supermarket level are Woolies and Coles".

Johnson said Woolworths is likely pre-empting an official ban on plastic bags in the remaining states and the decision is unlikely to cost the company any money.

"If they can't get a hold of single-use bags, what are they going to use instead?"

Woolworths and Coles weren't only thinking of the environment when they banned the bag.

Like Aldi, which charges 15 cents for heavier branded plastic bags or $1 for fabric bags, Woolworths plans to sell thicker reusable bags "at different price points to suit customer needs".


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