Supermarkets in Vic, NSW, Qld and WA introduced single-use plastic bans in 2018.
Supermarkets in Vic, NSW, Qld and WA introduced single-use plastic bans in 2018.

Supermarkets urged to ban reusable plastic bags

Supermarkets are under pressure to dump reusable plastic bags which environmentalists claim are ending up in landfill or being littered.

The nation's largest supermarkets Coles and Woolworths have boasted about removing 1.4 billion single-use bags from circulation since they dumped them in the middle of the year in Victoria, NSW, Qld and WA.

The supermarkets continue to offer customers thicker reusable bags at a cost of 15 cents each.

But both retailers have refused to divulge how many reusable plastic bags have been used since single-use bags were removed across the country.

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The director of environmental group Boomerang Alliance's, Jeff Angel, said supermarkets still had much more to do to wipe out plastic usage completely.

"It's a concern that these so-called reusable bags end up littered or thrown into landfill," he said.

"Let's finish the job by introducing bag-ban legislation and governments and retailers getting rid of these flimsy reusable thicker bags.

"Environment ministers of Australia have been looking at this issue for the last two years."

Mr Angel said there were "plenty of strong reusable bag types" that could be used hundreds of times as opposed to reusable plastic bags which have a short lifespan.

Shoppers can purchase thicker and stronger bags for $1 each.
Shoppers can purchase thicker and stronger bags for $1 each.

Woolworths head of sustainability Adrian Cullen said shoppers had embraced the switch to using reusable bags or buying thicker canvas bags for $1 each.

"The vast majority of our customers have formed new habits and are bringing their own shopping bags," he said.

"Together with customers we've taken more than 700 million single-use plastic bags out of circulation since June which is great for our waterways and marine life."

Greenpeace campaigner Zoe Deans said they were pleased with the banning of single-use bags but supermarkets needed to take this even further.

"There is still a long way to go before we lessen our dependence on plastic consumption with high rates of single-use plastic use in other areas," she said.

"While reusable plastic bags are much better than the single-use option, we still have concerns about how many of these are being handed out and whether or not people do indeed reuse them."

Just last week it was revealed Coles would bring back its miniature grocery items campaign, Little Shop, which was a success for the retailer earlier this year.

The supermarket attracted criticism for offering customers plastic items shortly after single-use plastic bags had been dumped.

A Coles spokeswoman said they would continue to offer reusable plastic bags "to customers
who forget to bring their bags from home."