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Source: iStock

Plastic Bag Circulation Down 80 Percent in Australia Following Supermarket Ban

By Carly Sitzer

It’s only been a few months since two of Australia’s biggest supermarket chains — Coles and Woolworths — decided to stop giving out free, single-use plastic shopping bags, and already, the country has seen significant results. According to the National Retail Association in Australia, in the three months since the bans were introduced in the land down under, there has been an 80 percent decrease in plastic bag consumption — or about 1.5 billion fewer bags in circulation. 

While the country is currently celebrating the success of the program, the new initiatives were met with hesitation when they were first introduced over the summer. Woolworths initially reported flailing sales while Coles went so far as to reverse the ban following the outcry, but opted to charge a small fee for single-use plastic bags instead. 

David Stout of the National Retail Association said he hopes other businesses — especially smaller ones — will follow suit after seeing the positive impact that the plastic bag ban has had, saying that smaller businesses should be able to “consider that strategy without fear of backlash.” Ultimately, he explained, he believes the responsibility falls on the consumer.