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Woolworths plastic bag ban starts

WW1Woolworths shopping centres will stop providing free single-use plastic bags to customers today, removing 3.2 billion bags from circulation annually.

“From the beginning, we felt strongly that this was the right thing to do and we’re really pleased to see customers are behind the change as well,” said Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci.

“We are proud to say that from now on, single-use plastic bags are gone from our stores, for good.”

Research by Canstar Blue found more than half of shoppers have already begun stockpiling plastic bags at home, based on a survey of more than 2,200 people.

While 71 per cent of those surveyed back the ban, 21 per cent disagree and eight per cent are undecided.

Nearly half expect that taking their own bags to the shops would be a hassle.

Banducci, however, encourages shoppers to bring their own reusable bags, plastic or otherwise, or to purchase the 15 cent reusable bags or 99 cent ‘Bag for Good’ available at checkouts.

“Our Bag for Good is an unprecedented offering for our customers when it comes to reusable bags,” Banducci explained, “It costs 99 cents and when it gets damaged, we will replace it for free, no matter when they bought it from us.”

Woolworths have also committed to trialing the removal of plastic packaging on 80 lines of stock, as well as removing unnecessary packaging in produce, and are planning on introducing a plastic recycling option in all supermarkets by the end of the month.

This initiative, run via the REDcycle program, will allow customers to return soft plastic packaging used on produce, biscuit packets, frozen food bags, rice and pasta bags, confectionery packets and shopping bags which will then be sent to recycling partners.

Coles will stop offering plastic bags on July 1.

SDA national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the union will be reminding Woolworths’ staff about their rights, including not overloading bags at the customer’s request and not handling extremely dirty or unhygienic bags.

“We welcome this positive change for the environment and remind customers to bring their own reusable bag or simply purchase one at the checkout,” he said.

“While we understand that some customers may be frustrated by this change, there is no excuse for abusive or violent behaviour towards retail staff.

“This will be a change for retail staff, but they should always follow safe work practices and report any abusive or violent behaviour from customers about the changes to their supervisor.”

“Retail workers should not have to bear the brunt of any abusive behaviour, just for following the new rules.”

SDA research involving 6,000 retail and fast food workers last year found that more than 85 per cent had experienced abuse from customers at work.

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