Australia Has Cut Plastic Bag Usage By 80 Percent Since Banning Them In July

Single-use plastic shopping bags
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The more information comes to light about the harm caused by single-use plastics, the more shocking it is that people continue to make use of products made of them. A speech by Sir David Attenborough in front of the U.N. seemed to really grab people’s attention when he warned that if we don’t change our habits urgently, things will become irreversible.

While many individuals have campaigned for people to make use of recyclable or reusable options instead, some companies have also decided to jump on the bandwagon with bans of single-use plastics of their own.

In the past five months, Australia has managed to reduce their plastic bag usage by as much as 80 percent, reports Unilad. How? Two of the biggest supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, implemented a blanket ban on plastic bags starting on July 1. Almost overnight shoppers were forced to purchase reusable bags to keep or pay 15 cents for a reusable bag on the spot.

It is believed to have prevented approximately 1.5 billion bags from littering the environment further, something the Australian people have taken very seriously.

David Stout, Manager of Industry Policy at the National Retail Association (NRA), issued a statement about the success of the ban.

“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. The NRA has calculated that 1.5 billion bags have been saved since July 1 when Queensland banned the single use plastic carry bag. 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,” he said.

Stout also heaped praise on the retail companies for the part they have played in the massive reduction of plastic bags, and on shoppers for embracing the change and starting to carry their own reusable bags with them when they go grocery shopping.

Coles and Woolworths have also decided to divert the costs to other good causes, including the likes of Landcare, Clean Up Australia, Little Athletics Australia, SecondBite, and Guide Dog.

Stout further added that the two chain stores have paved the way for smaller retailers to be able to follow suit with moving to more reusable options.