NRA backs Labor plan for national bag ban

The Australian Labor Party has proposed a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags to be implemented from 2021.

The move is part of a larger proposal to reduce waste and protect wildlife, which would see $290 million spent on recycling initiatives.

“Plastic has a devastating impact on our natural environment – more than a third of the world’s sea turtles were found to have plastic wastes in their stomachs, and it is estimated around 90 per cent of seabirds eat plastic waste,” Labor Party head Bill Shorten said in a statement on Monday.

Shorten noted that while many Australians do their duty in recycling, compositing and drinking out of reusable coffee cups, the Government needed to take a leading role to tackle some of the larger issues.

“We will consult with states, territories and industry on how best to do this, [creating] a consistent approach across the country,” Shorten said.

The National Retail Association manager of industry David Stout welcomed the proposal and said the NRA would be eager to work with a future government on a nationwide ban.

“Retailers are happy to support environmental measures such as plastic bag bans, so long as the laws are simple and there is plenty of lead time for the sector to prepare for the transition,” Stout said.

“It takes considerable time to educate both retailers and the public on the details of new laws, as well as for businesses to develop and implement new alternatives that are compliant.”

Stout believes the proposed start date of 2021 would provide ample time to create and conduct training workshops, information sessions and media campaigns ahead of the ban.

As Stout pointed out, all states and territories, barring New South Wales, already have or are enacting a local bag-ban – a nationwide law would ensure a consistent approach.

However, Australasian Association of Convenience Stores chief executive Jeff Rogut doesn’t believe this change is necessarily in the best interest of customers.

“Our first priority is to serve our customers in the most convenient way possible so, in this respect, we do not support a ban on plastic bags,” Rogut told IR.

“In operation, convenience stores are not big users of plastic bags, [and] there has not been a meaningful push either way from our members to have … plastic bags banned or retained.”

Rogut notes that most customers shop with convenience stores for top-up items and impulse purchases, and that such a ban would likely be an inconvenience to its core market.

“They may be discouraged from buying more items than they originally planned. This inconvenience contrasts with our value proposition and the potential for a loss of sales obviously impacts ours stores,” Rogut said.

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1 comment

  1. Scott Mitchell posted on April 2, 2019

    Jeff , heads up, times are changing, with that industry attitude nothing would ever change, do all your members share your view “Our first priority is to serve our customers in the most convenient way possible so, in this respect, we do not support a ban on plastic bags,” Rogut told IR. Sounds like an opportunity to lead and transform but your preference is resistance to a global change that is do not operate in a vacuum, isolated the world we live in - facts are simple - single use disposable plastic bags harm the world we live in - what can your industry do to help reduce this harm?

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