This Wednesday, Woolworths will become the first major supermarket in Queensland to ban the use of lightweight plastic bags at its stores. Rival supermarkets and other retailers will follow suit on July 1, when statewide laws come into effect.
Confused about what the ban means for consumers? Here’s a quick explainer.
What’s banned (and what’s not)?
Single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness, standard petrochemical lightweight plastic bags, and compostable, degradable and biodegradable plastic bags are all disappearing.
But don’t worry: garbage bags, plastic nappy bags, heavy weight department store bags and poo bags for your doggo are all okay.
So, I can no longer cart my groceries home in plastic bags?
No. The days of plastic bags at the checkout counter are over. Instead, you’ll have to buy reusable bags for your shopping.
What kind of reusable bags and how much do they cost?
You’ll be able to buy thicker reusable plastic bags made from 80 per cent recycled material for around 15 cents per bag (the Coles Better Bag, say) or foldable bags that start at 99 cents each.
Which retailers are exempt?
None. The ban applies on all retailers across Queensland, including pharmacies, convenience stores and the like – all will have to cease handing out lightweight plastic bags to customers.
What if I get my groceries delivered?
Woolworths is offering delivery either in a crate at $3.50 per delivery or in reusable bags at an additional fee of $1 per delivery. Coles customers will be able to choose between having their groceries delivered and unpacked in their home, or in reusable plastic Coles Better Bags at 15 cents per bag.
I hate change. Why is this happening?
The ban comes as a result of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Act 2017. The legislation was created to combat the the millions of plastic bags that end up in the state’s waterways every year.
If I see a retailer still using lightweight plastic bags, can I report them?
Yes, you can dial the National Retail Association Hotline on 1800 RETAIL. Fines as high as $6300 per offence have been promised for retailers who do not comply.