Woolworths will begin phasing out 15c reusable plastic bags in Western Australia this month, ahead of a statewide ban coming into effect from July 1.
The supermarket will be offering shoppers 20c paper shopping bags as an alternative option, which will also be used for online orders. Foldable fabric bags and the Bag For Good reusable bags will still be available.
The move comes amid a significant change in customer habits, with 80% of Woolworths customers in WA now bringing their own bags to shop. The supermarket confirmed there are no plans to phase out reusable plastic bags in other states.
“Over the next month, we’ll be gradually phasing out plastic shopping bags from our stores and online orders across WA, as we move to support the WA Government’s upcoming plastic bag ban,” said Woolworths State General Manager for WA, Karl Weber.
“This change will see more than 30 million plastic bags removed from circulation in WA every year − which is a big win for the health of our oceans and waterways.
“While our paper bags will continue to be available, the most sustainable bag you can use is the reusable one you bring from home.
“The vast majority of our customers already bring their own reusable bags to shop, which is the very best outcome for the environment, and we encourage customers to keep up the great work.”
Western Australia’s plans to ban single-use plastic will be implemented in two stages. The first stage includes banning thick plastic bags, all plastic cutlery, drink stirrers, drinking straws, EPS takeaway food containers, and helium balloon releases. This will be in effect from July 1.
The second stage will ban thin plastic produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, takeaway coffee cups, and lids, polystyrene packaging, oxo-degradable plastics, and microbeads.
What are supermarkets doing to reduce plastic waste?
Major supermarkets removed single-use plastic shopping bags from circulation in 2018 and rolled out several sustainable initiatives to reduce plastic use.
Woolworths has removed packs of single-use plastic straws from shelves nationwide, as well as single-use plastic cutlery, cups, bowls, and plates. Woolies said it also ‘improved’ the packaging on more than 550 products like milk bottles, meat trays, bakery items and produce. The supermarket has also committed to making 100% of its homebrand packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by the end of 2023. Woolies is also currently trialling a BYO container scheme to allow shoppers to use their own reusable containers when filling up at the supermarket’s deli.
Coles similarly ditched plastic bread tags on Coles homebrand bakery items for recyclable paper-based varieties and dumped single-use plastic tableware for good. It also shut shop on its hugely popular, but controversial, Little Shop collectables campaign. The supermarket has also committed to making all Coles Own Brand and Coles Own Liquor Brand packaging 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
ALDI was the first supermarket to ditch plastic straws on poppers, and also began phasing out unnecessary single-use plastics from its homebrand products, which includes replacing plastic-stemmed cotton buds with paper-stemmed alternatives as well as ditching single-use plastic tableware for plates and bowls made from compostable materials.