Australia’s two largest supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths have announced that they will phase out single use plastic bags over the next 12 months.
The ban will come into effect in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia. South Australia, ACT, the Northern Territory and Tasmania already have a government-enforced ban in place, while Queensland plans to do so next year.
Currently, Australians use 3.92 billion plastic bags a year. That is over 10 million new bags being used every day. Out of that number, an estimated 3.76 billion are disposed of in landfill. That equates to 20,700 tonnes of plastic going into the environment.
In making the announcement today, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said that it was the right decision for the environment. “We’ve been looking at the feedback we get back from our customers, as well as the impact on the environment and we think it’s an incredibly important thing to do,” he said.
Meanwhile Coles chief customer officer Simon McDowell said that the company had been working towards the announcement for some time. “(This decision is) part of our ongoing program to improve environmental outcomes throughout our business.” He said.
Both supermarkets will be continuing to offer their more durable, reusable plastic bags as well as their multi-use hessian bags.
The phased approach is expected to be completed across Australia by June 30 next year.