In what quickly became a press-release race between two major Australian supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths announced, only within a few hours of one another, that they will no longer be providing free plastic bags to their consumers.
This inevitably means that from July 2018, you will either have to supply your own shopping bags or purchase from a range of in-store ones, that retail between 15c to $2.49. According to Woolworths’ chief executive Brad Banducci, the company wanted to take an environmental stand, which they believed was “the right thing to do”.
Although the supermarket giants appear to be fighting the war on waste, retail analysts have been saying the decision to ditch plastic comes at a time when 5 Australian states have already banned the product, and is just another case of retailers jumping before they were pushed.
According to retail expert Gary Mortimer, an associate professor at Queensland University of Technology Business School, taking a stand on this issue is not a new phenomenon — Target was previously charging consumers 10c a bag for years. Mortimer also made it clear that removing plastic bags is only one part of our environmental problem, but a “blanket ban across Australia on single use plastic bags will be a catalyst for change”.
It shows a bigger interest both in the consumers and the companies for a more sustainable lifestyle and, according to Mortimer, will see a snowballing effect onto other parts of our lives. We’ve already seen it happen with takeaway coffee cups.
The only potential issue for retailers is convincing their customers to either break their habit of not supplying their your own bags or to avoid paying extra for an item that used to be free. We’re in a time where attention on sustainability is inevitable, and if it means saving our planet, I’m sure people are able to make a few adjustments accordingly.