Woolworths in Mount Isa will cease to provide single-use plastic shopping bags from 20 June 2018, ten days earlier than the effective date.
The national announced via Woolworths Group was confirmed for the phasing out of bags from stores where a statewide ban hadn’t already been implemented.
Woolworths Group announced last year that they would end the use of single-use plastic bags in all stores by the end of June 2018.
Group wide more than 3.2 billion single-use plastic bags are handed out by Woolworths in Australia each year.
Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said they feel very strongly this is the right thing to do.
“Together with our customers we can help create a greener future for Australia,” Mr Banducci said.
“Our teams have been working hard behind the scenes to accelerate the rollout of this plan so we can start making a positive impact on the environment as quickly as possible.
“We know this is a big change for our customers and store teams, and we need to do all we can to make the transition as seamless as possible for both,” he said.
“To this end, we have a dozen supermarkets across Australia going single-use plastic bag free from today. We’ll closely monitor feedback from customers in these stores and apply any lessons we learn to our national rollout on June 20.”
Woolworths have strategies in place for those customers who forget to bring their own bags shopping.
Customers who don’t bring their own bags to Woolworths will have access to a range of alternative shopping bags in store, including thicker reusable plastic bags at 15 cents and canvas bags at 99 cents.
The move has been backed by Australian environmental groups Planet Ark and Boomerang Alliance.
Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko said the move by Woolworths will have a really positive and meaningful impact on our environment.
“Single-use plastic bags have become a huge problem for Australia’s oceans and waterways where they cause significant harm to turtles, whales and fish. They also don't breakdown in landfill and require significant resources to manufacture in the first place,” Mr Klymenko said.
“Experiences in countries like the UK and Ireland have shown the introduction of small charges on plastic bags can end up reducing plastic bag usage by up to 85 percent as shoppers embrace reusable alternatives, and we have every confidence this can happen in Australia too."
Boomerang Alliance Director Jeff Angel said the community wants action on the alarming growth of plastic pollution and it is gratifying to see retailers like Woolworths moving on from plastic bags to help save our oceans and wildlife.
“We encourage shoppers to adopt reusable bags. Of course there's much more to do in stores to reduce our plastic footprint and we look forward to working with consumers, retailers and government to push the agenda along,” Mr Angel said.
The upcoming national single-use plastic bag ban comes as Woolworths continues to trial the removal or reduction of plastic packaging in fruit and vegetables.
In recent months Woolworths has permanently removed plastic from produce lines such as organic spring onions, celery, kale and English spinach, in moves that will help save more than 25 tonnes of packaging on a yearly basis.
By June 30, Woolworths will also offer flexible plastic recycling options in all supermarkets via the REDcycle program.
REDcycle is a closed loop recycling solution where customers can return soft plastic packaging used on produce, biscuit packets, frozen food bags, rice and pasta bags, confectionery packets and shopping bags, which are then sent to our recycling partners.
The material is delivered to REDcycle to be turned into recycled plastic products such as outdoor furniture.