It’s been six months since the ‘single – use’ plastic bag ban at Coles and Woolworths

Woolworths material ba
It’s been six months since Cooles and Woolworths introduced a ‘ban’ on traditional plastic shopping bags, instead introducing thicker plastic or material bags

Maybe Coles and Woolworths were on to something.

Despite the initial backlash against grocery store monopolies for their decision to ban ‘single use ‘ plastic shopping bags, women’s site Mamamia reported that around 1.5 billion less plastic bags have become waste.

Also, the National Retail Association also confirms that other major retailers have started to follow suit. I know that Big W have had both thicker plastic and material (nylon?) bags on sale for a while.

I haven’t been against the move by Coles and Woolworths in introducing the material/ thicker plastic bags. But I do think the way they went about it was bad PR. Due to public anger, both Coles and Woolworths have made concessions. Woolworths had their bags free for a limited time. Coles backtracked completely and reintroduced the plastic bags. Then they backflipped…again.

Even after that, to save their image, Woolworths claims that all proceeds made from the bags (A$1.00 for the material and A$0.15) are donated to environmental and education charities.

Reactions to the change

There have been mixed reactions about the changes from both members of the public and the media.

While many have praised Coles and Woolworths for trying to phase out thin plastic bags, there have been plenty of criticism as well. Some reactions  against it have been arguably exaggerated. Gay Alcorn from The Guardian Australia pointed out flaws in the San Francisco study that claimed that people died of food poisoning due to dirty material bags. The study was not peer reviewed and has been dismissed by PolitiFact.

Personally, I’ve never had any problem. Generally, I take one bag for shopping and nothing has been spilled or broken. In regard to meat, raw fish and chicken — food that can produce e – coli — I make sure that I have a cool bag with me. That seems to work well.

I’m not against the move, but I do find it ironic that mini plastic bags are still used to buy fruit and vegetables. I can’t see why they couldn’t have found another (possibly free), alternative for that. Plus, not having fruit and vegetables wrapped in plastic would be good too.

Any other alternatives to plastic bags? Yes. Paper bags. They can be useful to use as bins too, so there’s less need for home bins that need liners.

I’m actually surprised about the impact that the changes in bag policies at Coles and Woolworths have made (or tried to implement). Now, let the  war on plastic straws begin. And plastic bin liners. And… fill in the blank.

What do you think abouut the move that Coles and Woolworths ban? Let me know what youu think in the comments below.

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