Why are all the grocery stores in Australia moving away from single use plastic bags?
Single use plastic bags are terrible for our environment. When these plastic bags end up in our waterways, wildlife suffer.
Ocean creatures like turtles, whales and lot of creatures in between are harmed or killed each year by ingesting plastic bags.
To create a greener future, major grocery chains will no longer offer single use plastic bags.
Single use plastic bags also pose a significant environmental issue for Australia with over 150 million plastic bags ending up as litter every year.
Can I take my own bags into supermarkets and chain stores such as Target, Big W and Best and Less?
Yes you sure can. You don’t HAVE TO buy the reusable bags that are offered in store. You can take your own bags into stores and staff will pack you shopping into the bags that you bring at the checkout.
It is important that you check that the bags you are providing are clean and safe to use (ie no holes or bag weakness).
Why aren’t stores considering paper bags?
Many companies have looked at using paper bags. At this stage most claim that many paper bags can have a more significant impact on the environment than both single-use and reusable plastic bags. It is claimed that this is true both during the manufacturing process and at the end of the paper bag’s life.
Why not biodegradable bags?
According to Woolworths, “biodegradable plastics breakdown at different rates depending on their composition, how they are disposed of and where. The plastic may also break down into smaller parts during the process of biodegradation, which may be mistakenly ingested by animals if not disposed of in appropriate locations. Also, due to their degradable nature, some biodegradable plastics may not be accepted for or suitable for recycling.”
What is happening to the bags that fruit and vegetable are put into in store?
Whilst there is no ban as yet on produce bags (which are used to put loose fruit and vegetables in), some supermarkets (eg Coles) have moved to create produce bags made with 30% recycled content.
In other supermarkets such as Woolworths, produce items will continue to be packed into produce bags for food safety reasons.
Chilled and frozen items, currently also still need to be packed into produce or reusable bags for food safety reasons.
Woolworths has said that they are “currently working hard to remove plastics across the store, and exploring all options”.
But I use my single use plastic bags as my bin liner. What will I do now?
Yes. We know. How annoying! We are all going to have to purchase bin liners.
How many times should I be able to use a reusable bag?
It depends. Most manufacturers will state how many times they think you will be able to use their bags. And it is important to find out, as some bags don't last long at all. This can make them way less sustainable than even single use plastic bags!
It is likely that a fabric bag will last longer than a reusable plastic bag. However this really depends on the items you are going to carry in the bag, where you store the bag and the amount of time between uses.
Supermarket and grocery stores used to give away bags and now I am being charged for them. Are they now making a profit?
Most retailers will tell you that they are not making a profit from the sale of their reusable bags. Thicker plastic bags are certainly more expensive to produce.
The sure fast way to ensure no profit is being made is by supplying your own grocery bags when you do your grocery shopping.