Many environmental organizations had warned Australia that it was lagging behind other countries in the campaign of decreasing the use of plastic bags. In 2016, it was found out that 5 billion plastic bags were used by Australians per year. Among which 150 million single-use plastic bags ended up as litter.
Recently Australia’s plastic bag utilization has been slashed down immensely. The use of plastic bags has been banned by two of the largest supermarkets in Australia. After three months the usage of plastic bags has reduced by 1.5 billion, as cited by the AAP (Australian Associated Press).
The ban induced by Woolworths and Coles resulted in an almost 80% decrease in the handling of plastic bags by December 2018.
The first ban project was initiated by Coles in 2003. Minister Peter Garrett had announced the Rudd Government’s goal to ban plastic bags nationwide. This goal was abandoned due to the disagreement between the various state and territory governments. Later the states in favor of this goal started their own movements separately.
National Retail Association’s David Stout said that some retailers are claiming the reduction to be 90% even!
In the beginning, few customers were feeling the so-called “bag rage”. This was due to the fact that they had to opt for BYO- bag (Bring Your Own bag) or had to pay 15 Australian cents for reusable bags.
Woolworths blamed their collapsing sales to the customers’ adjustment to the ban of plastic bags. On the other hand, Coles even planned on temporarily backing down from the bag banning. They even disapproved of the action of environmentally aware shoppers, distributing reusable plastic bags.
On the bright side, the majority of the Australian citizens did not find it difficult to adjust to this ban on plastic bags. This adjustment became highly beneficial for the country’s oceans, landfills, and the locations which were reduced to dumping sites for wastes.
Stout saluted the progress along with expressing the hope that the Government of Australia would again take the initiative and issue a nationwide ban. Unfortunately, New South Wales, which is Australia’s most populated state, has not yet imposed a ban on plastic bags. He expressed to the AAS that they were still facing a huge amount of plastic bag usage in the nutrition industry. Though he is happy that the states have themselves taken an initiative, further steps need to be taken nationwide for greater impact. He expressed that the councils, businesses, and consumers need to take the initiative as banning plastic bags would be environmentally beneficial for all.
There has been growing awareness not only in Australia but also all around the world to ban or tax plastic bags. According to the report of ReuseThisBag company, no less than 32 countries have a ban on plastic bags in place already.