Australian supermarket giants, Woolworths and Coles, have both agreed to voluntarily phase out the use of single use plastic bags over the next 12 months.
The decision has been welcomed by Greenpeace Australia Pacific, which noted that South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and ACT all have bans on single-use plastic bags. Queensland will introduce a ban in July 2018 while NSW and Victoria are yet to implement a policy on bags. Western Australia has stated it hopes to bring in a ban on bags in the next 18 months.
“This announcement by Woolworths and Coles show they are serious about their responsibilities as Australia’s largest supermarket chains,” said Samantha Wockner, Greenpeace campaigner. “This ban will stop billions of bags from being used each year in Australia, tens of millions of which can make their way into our waterways and eventually end inside marine life and our food.
However, she also chastised the NSW and Victorian governments: “The environment ministers of Victoria and NSW need to recognise that they are being left behind on this issue and must step up and show the leadership that is embarrassingly being shown by supermarket chains and not them.”
Greenpeace Australia Pacific is calling on the state governments of NSW and Victoria to follow the lead set by Woolworths and Coles.
“The overwhelming majority of Australians support a ban on single use plastic bags - which are only used for minutes on average, but then take up to a thousand years to decompose,” said Wockner.
“There is no reason for the paralysis currently infecting some state and federal governments on this issue. It’s time for us to ban the bag at every level,” she concluded.
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