Australians slash plastic bag use by 1.34 billion bags

Saturday, 06 August, 2005

New figures released in a Planet Ark report commissioned by the Australian government have revealed that Australians have cut their plastic bag habit by 1.34 billion bags a year. However, they are still using 5.58 billion plastic checkout bags a year.

"Supermarkets have done well to get Australians using millions of green bags," said Planet Ark Founder, Jon Dee. "But too many fast food outlets, newsagents, pharmacies, liquor stores and other types of businesses are doing little or nothing to reduce plastic bag use," he said.

Under the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) Code of Practice for the Management of Plastic Bags, the ARA and Environment Protection and Heritage Council have agreed to halve the use of plastic bags by the end of 2005.

According to Planet Ark's Jon Dee, the non-supermarket retailers are not doing enough to achieve the 50 per cent reduction target.

While major supermarkets have reduced plastic bag use by 26.9 per cent, the non-supermarket retailers have only reduced their use by 10-15 per cent.

Of the 129 non-supermarket retailers surveyed in the study, 47 per cent had not heard of the ARA target to halve plastic bag use.

However, some stores surveyed by Planet Ark are achieving better results than the supermarkets. By charging 10 cents per bag at the checkout bag, Bunnings and IKEA have cut their plastic bag use by up to 73 per cent and 86 per cent respectively. Other retailers like Nando's have banned plastic bags altogether.

"These retailers are setting a positive example for others to follow," Mr Dee said.

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