Superstores in Australia Reduced Plastic Bag Use by 80 Percent in Only 3 Months

Woolworths Plastic Ban in Australia

Photo: anystock via Shutterstock

Australia has just proven that it doesn't necessarily take sweeping changes in legislation to get people to cut down on their plastic consumption. The country has cut its plastic bag use by 80 percent over the course of three months thanks to sweeping measures instituted by major national retailers.

Since July, two of Australia's largest supermarket chains—Coles and Woolworths—have implemented a nationwide ban on free lightweight plastic grocery bags. Australia's National Retail Association (NRA) estimates that the ban has saved 1.5 billion single-use plastic bags from entering the ecosystem since it went into effect. Customers are now being offered reusable bags for 15 cents a piece, and while there was some resistance at first, new habits are already forming.

“The decision by certain retailers to no longer offer free single-use plastic carry bags certainly received a hostile response from some shoppers initially, but these retailers deserve credit for dramatically reducing the number of bags in circulation,” shared David Stout, NRA Manager of Industry Policy. “The bulk of shoppers now use their own bags, which has been instrumental in reducing the number of plastic bags being consumed. Indeed, some retailers are reporting reduction rates as high as 90 percent.”

Cole's Plastic Bag Ban

Photo: anystock via Shutterstock

While there is no national legislation that bans single-use plastic bags in Australia, most states and territories have policies in place or in the pipeline. One notable exception is Australia's most populous state, New South Wales. By taking matters into their own hands, these large retailers have demonstrated the concrete impact they can have on our planet. Leading by example, they've shown smaller retailers that the transition away from lightweight plastic bags is possible.

Everyone is benefitting from these efforts, with Coles and Woolworths investing the profits from the sales of alternative bags back into local community groups. Overall, they've demonstrated how retail businesses can become leaders in helping people change their use of plastics. The impressive results show how small changes can yield big results.

h/t: [IFL Science!]

Related Articles:

California Becomes First State to Officially Ban Plastic Bags

Two Teenage Girls Led a Successful Campaign Convincing Bali to Ban Plastic Bags

European Union Votes for a Sweeping Ban on Single-Use Plastic

Costa Rica Pledges to Ban All Single-Use Plastics by 2021 in Bold Stance Against Pollution

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.
Become a Member
Explore member benefits

Sponsored Content