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Fizzling out fantastic plastic

– (L-R) Tracey Donaghy, Melissa Fellows, Bianka White and Raoul Murphett with a range of alternate shopping bags. Photo - Lisa Comerford

By Carol Saffer

Australia disposes of four billion plastic bags, or more than 20,000 tonnes of plastic waste, each year according to Clean Up Australia.
Only three percent of these are recycled, with the rest finding their way into the environment or landfill.
Victorian Government legislation banning single-use plastic bags from all retail outlets in the state comes into effect on June 30 this year.
Foodworks Bacchus Marsh General Manager Sam Amarasekera says when the legislation takes effect all customers, needing bags for their groceries will have the opportunity to purchase from a range of bags at their store.
“We have paper, woollen, reusable plastic, biodegradable and other types of bags ranging from 10 cents to about $1.50,” Mr Amarasekera said.
Home deliveries currently have all items packed into single-use plastic bags.
Mr Amarasekera said they are speaking with customers to make them aware that this will cease on 1st July.
“We are trying to organise what type of bags they want to buy to use for deliveries. We also offer the use of recycle cardboard boxes.”
Foodworks has received lots of positive comments.
“Customers are aware of the new legislation and support the concept of it being better for the environment,” says Mr Amarasekera.
“We have around 30-40 per cent of customers already bringing their own re-usable bags with them when they shop.”
Ballan’s Country Grocers IGA Assistant Store Manager Ashlee Booker was the driver behind conducting a survey of the store’s customers in 2017 on single-use plastic bags.
Ms Booker said 68 per cent of the respondents wanted to see single-use plastic bags removed.
In April this year as a way of easing customer transition to re-usable bags Country Grocers IGA charged a fee of 5 cents for a single-use plastic bag. The 5 cents fee money was collected and donated to local organisations and clubs.
“There were some negative comments at the time from some customers who mistakenly believed that the business was keeping the 5 cents,” Ms Booker said.
“Around 90 per cent of customers are [now] aware of the new legislation coming into effect on 1st July and nearly every second person has a re-usable bag with them when they come instore.”
In line with Foodworks, Country Grocers IGA also offers a range of re-usable bags for different requirements and sold for various prices. A cooler bag, hessian bag (the most popular costs $3.50) a folded non-woven bag and a long-life plastic bag.
Ms Booker says there will be no impact on delivery of groceries. Since first offering home delivery the store has placed all online grocery orders in re-usable cardboard boxes and black plastic tubs for cool and cold items. The black tubs are unpacked upon delivery to the customer and returned to the store.