In a stunning move that hopefully the rest of the world can learn from, Australia has reduced its plastic bag use 80% in just three months and have prevented 1.5 billion bags from entering into the environment according to Australia’s National Retail Association.
The craziest part? The drastic change was not government driven but rather a business decisions by two of the largest supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths whom decided to implement nationwide ban on free plastic grocery bags this last summer.
“Retailers deserve an enormous amount of kudos for leading the way on one of the most significant changes to consumer behavior in generations and we also applaud shoppers for embracing this environmental initiative,” David Stout, Manager of Industry Policy at the National Retail Association, said in a statement.
“Nation-wide retailers have led the way and as a result also assisted smaller businesses in providing a template on how to manage the transition to a plastic bag-free retail environment. As a result, we are seeing similar changes made across the food, homeware, and service categories.”
Although the decisions by big chains to ban was the right move, it wasn’t easy as some shoppers were very upset of the changes and reluctant to accept they would not be given bags for free which caused the brand Coles to changes its mind multiple times.
“The decision by certain retailers to no longer offer free single-use plastic carry bags certainly received a hostile response from some shoppers initially, but these retailers deserve credit for dramatically reducing the number of bags in circulation,” added Stout.
While this is an amazing step forward, we as a planet still have a long ways to go. Currently the most polluted part of the worlds oceans comes from southeastern Asia where China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand are the worlds top producers of ocean trash.
While many regions and nations across the world have started to implement plastic bag bans, there’s still a long way to go when we talk about plastic pollution in general. While some bans have started to take place in those locations and across the world, we as the people need to ensure our leaders and companies realize we want to see an end to the use of single-use plastic. If our voices are not heard, change will occur much slower and Australia is the perfect example.