There's a big change coming to your local Aldi supermarket, with the company phasing out reusable 15c plastic bags and introducing a paper alternative, a move that has angered shoppers.
Available now in all stores, the new bags are Forest Stewardship Council certified and 100 per cent kerbside recyclable. Aldi claims the switch will result in more than 888 tonnes of plastic being removed from circulation each year.
In addition to the new paper bag, the more durable Le Bag Recycle, which contains 80 per cent recycled material, will still be available to customers, except in WA. The remainder of Aldi's 15c plastic bags will also be available in stores over the next few months until sold out.
In May, Woolworths announced they were changing to paper bags in all their stores, with rival Coles following suit earlier this month. Both companies aim to have completely eliminated all plastic carry bags from stores by the end of June.
Shoppers rage at paper bags
Responding to Aldi's announcement, several customers argued that the retailer's paper bags aren't fit for task. "What a silly thing to do. Paper bags are useless; they tear easily, are no good with frozen foods, and will end up in bins after one use," one customer stated on Facebook.
Another shopper noted that a paper bag provided to her by Aldi came apart soon after she left the supermarket. "Sadly they are very weak and the handles broke and the bag tore within 20 minutes (and there wasn't anything heavy in it)," she shared.
Step in right direction but more to be done
One person enthusiastic about the change is Dr Paul Harvey, environmental scientist and author of The Plasticology Project. "This is fantastic news from Aldi and another step in the right direction for the Australian grocery retailer sector," he told Yahoo News Australia.
However, Dr Harvey did express one reservation: "Ideally I would like to see the bags made from recycled materials, rather than virgin pulp, because harvesting forest for a non-essential item is really just shifting from one environmental problem to another.
"I hope that in the future Aldi will move to an even more sustainable version of the bags. No doubt some consumers will complain about the change in bags, but to them I say, take your own bag. Aldi should be commended for taking the steps to reduce plastic, as this is not easy in such a dynamic industry, but there is still a very long way to go in reducing the plastic pollution burden from supermarkets.
"The next target should be the excessive plastic packaging in the fresh fruit and refrigerated groceries section," Dr Harvey says. "Perhaps one day the shelves will be clear of plastic packaging, except for those rare few absolutely essential uses."
Aldi previously announced it is moving towards a 25 per cent reduction in plastic packaging by 2025.
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