Woolworths is getting ahead of the game by completely eliminating the sale of all plastic shopping bags with handles and moving instead to bags made from paper.
The company hopes to have the ban implemented by May, two months ahead of a July 1 target set by the WA government on a range of plastic products.
According to Simon Dorries, chief executive of environmental advocates Responsible Wood, Woolworths should be recognised for their efforts.
“Woolworths has to be applauded. They are definitely not one of the ‘late achievers’,” says Mr Dorries.
‘They have a strong and robust environmental policy and will only use paper bags from sustainable sources.”
To procure the new paper bags, Woolworths has partnered with the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification which is governed by Responsible Wood to attain sustainable alternatives for the future.
The company says from one tree only, thousands of paper bags can be produced and the bags are known to have a high recyclable content due to the landfill materials being utilised.
According to Mr Dorries, plastic finding its way into the environment, especially into marine habitats, is incredibly harmful.
He notes that paper bags are completely biodegradable and there is no harm on marine life or the environment.
Mr Dorries says the new Woolworths’ paper bags can carry certification labels if they come from a sustainable source.
Former Woolworths employee Tayah Roberts says in the past some shoppers would seem annoyed that paper bags were being promoted by retailers.
“This change will affect the company dramatically. It makes the company look as if they are on top of it,” says Ms Roberts.
She claims more and more customers have been coming in recently telling Woolworths’ employees staff needed to do more than they already were.
The National Retail Association has been working alongside the WA Plastic Ban organisation to eliminate the plastic bags altogether and for companies such as Woolworths to achieve this sooner rather than later.
“The NRA commends Woolworths’ decision to start phasing out its reusable plastic shopping bags in preparation for the WA Government’s state-wide ban on all plastic shopping bags with handles,” says the association in a statement.