The plastic bag discourse took a turn this week as Coles over in Australia had to push back its ban date due to increasing backlash. While back home, Foodstuffs has announced that from next year all retail and wholesale brands will no longer offer plastic check out bags.
Australian’s have cemented their reluctance against losing their precious plastic bags, meaning leading supermarket Coles pulled a 180 and re-tracked its plans to ban them from August 1. The original aim was to charge 15 cents each as part of its program as an incentive to get the consumer to shift to reusable bags.
Unfortunately yet unsurprisingly, Coles is now receiving backlash on Twitter from people who supported the plastic ban in the first place. With the most common thought being shame in those who took the effort to write into the company to complain about losing plastic bags.
I’m bitterly disappointed in @Coles decision to cave into the squeals of the “change is hard and we don’t like it” brigade. I will continue to bring my own bags because I’m a grown-up and know how to adapt. #Coles— MsOptOutPraxis (@MsPraxis) August 1, 2018
Now, Coles has pushed the date to August 29 according to the Guardian, to give consumers even more time to prepare, stating that it did not anticipate the change would be this long or difficult.
But as the giant retailer struggles to find firm footing, our own behemoth back home has proven its dedication to the environment by banning single-use plastics by January 1, 2019. It is stated that Liquorland will transition completely out of single-use checkout plastics by February 2019.
The move by Foodstuffs, a Kiwi owned brand, includes umbrella brands such as Four Square, Pac’n Save, Liquorland, New World and Fresh Collective among others.
Steve Anderson, MD Foodstuffs New Zealand, speaking on behalf of all the brands says, “We’ve been part of New Zealand’s landscape for nearly 100 years, feeding and nurturing and employing millions of Kiwis. We also welcome millions of travelers to our stores as they journey through this amazing country. We consider it a huge privilege and responsibility to do our best to look after our patch for centuries to come.
“This change to plastic bags, our work to improve and remove plastic packaging where appropriate, our leadership in soft plastics recycling and the ban on microbeads and plastic cotton buds all add up to major changes in the way we look after New Zealand,” says Anderson.
“Since we started this conversation we’ve seen between a 20 to 36 percent drop in plastic bag usage in our stores, but by the time January 1 rolls around this change will have removed more than 350 million plastic bags from circulation.”
The push for reusable bags will increase on October 1, with more options being introduced to prepare for the impending ban.
In response to the fuss across the ditch about plastic bags and customer angst, Anderson says, “We don’t anticipate the same reaction in New Zealand. Perhaps it’s because Kiwis are keener to look after what we have. We’re all neighbours, we’re one big family – we look out for each other and our patch. New Zealand is ready to roll with no plastic bags at the checkout from 1 January 2019. So are we.”
As the plastic bag ban starts to draw closer getting into the habit of using reusable bags will become more necessary, below are some tricks to help with the transition:
1) Keep your reusable bags in the boot of your car, not the kitchen. This way you’ll always have them on you, even for impromptu trips.
2) Reusable produce bags are a great way to have the same convenience as plastic while also keeping fruit and veg clean. Store them with your other reusables.
3) Buy the right one, you’ll only use the one you like. Go for compact, comfortable, self-contained and strong.
4) Buy enough. You can never have too many, but you’ll be in trouble if you find you don’t have enough. A safe average is five of a decent size.
5) After shopping put them back in your car or hang them on the door handle.
Countdown has already started phasing out single use plastic bags, with its parent company Progressive Enterprise sticking with its notion to phase them out also in their Australian Woolworths chains.