Plastic bag usage plummets in trial

A Victorian Government trial to curb the use of non-recyclable material by introducing a levy on plastic bags has reduced their use by up to 79%.

A Victorian Government trial to curb the use of non-recyclable material by introducing a levy on plastic bags has reduced their use by up to 79%.

 

Shoppers in Coles, Woolworths and IGA stores in Warrnambool, Wangaratta, Berwick, Hampton Park and Narre Warren overwhelmingly opted for ditching plastic grocery bags during the four-week trial.

 

State Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings says the trial’s results are pleasing.

“Analysis is continuing on the impact of the trial on customers and supermarket staff, including occupational health and safety issues. All this data will be included in the final report,” Jennings says in a statement.

But National Association of Retail Grocers of Australia chief executive Ken Henrick, who earlier this year told SmartCompany the trial’s objectives were unclear, says the results cannot provide detailed analysis.

 

“I think the trial itself was very short so it’s hard to know what implications it would have for long-term consumer behaviour,” he says, although he says he has not looked at detailed results of the trial.

 

But Rob Lake, Orex Recruiters director and publisher of the Brandish Retail Intelligence newsletter, says the results were actually lower than he expected. “I would have expected a bigger reduction, and in time it will grow.”

 

But he disagrees with Henrick, saying the trial demonstrated shoppers can make a significant reduction to their plastic bag usage, and he expects the number to grow.

 

But Lake says environmental causes should perhaps be focused on other areas. “Plastic bags are not a major part of waste,” he says.

 

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