BIG W makes major change for shoppers: 'Exciting next step'

Plastic is out and paper is in as Big W works to remove 480 tonnes from circulation each year.

Big W is set to stop selling cheap soft bags at its checkouts, in a move the retailer believes will remove over 480 tonnes of plastic from circulation each year.

The change will mean 15 and 45 cent bags are no longer on offer for shoppers, and they will be replaced with both paper or thicker reusable options.

The roll-out has been long awaited, with the retailer’s parent company Woolworths pledging in 2022 to scrap plastic bags from its supermarkets and its Big W discount department stores in June this year.

Big W stores, pictured here, are set to phase out soft plastic bags.
Big W is set to phase out soft plastic bags. Source: AAP/Big W

“Every small change can make a big difference and this is an exciting next step in our sustainability journey,” its managing director Dan Hake said in a statement.

Big W stopped giving away single-use plastic bags in 2018 and it now plans to run down its remaining stock of soft plastic options.

Why soft-plastic bag ban has been welcomed

Jeff Angel the founder of anti-plastic charity Total Environment Centre told Yahoo News Australia he welcomed the phase out.

"Plastic bags that are used once, or only a few times and then dumped or littered, are clearly coming to an end," he said. "Our final destination will see 99 per cent of customers bringing their own bags that can be reused hundreds of times and then be recycled."

Soft plastic bags will be replaced with paper at Big W, pictured here at checkout.
Soft plastic bags will be replaced with paper at Big W. Source: AAP/Big W

Mr Angel believes a lack of standardisation of what constitutes a reusable bag continues to be confusing for consumers, as there are huge differences in the thickness and lifespan. "We need a nationally adopted consistent standard so that we can stamp out any greenwashing," he said.

Date Woolworths plans to scrap plastic

Woolworths was the first national supermarket chain to roll out paper options, launching them in 2020.

During this time there have been a number of changes to their manufacture. These have been in response to consumer concerns around where they were produced, and the materials used to fashion them.

The new Big W bags will be FSC approved and made of recycled content. An alternative, thicker reusable bag will cost 99 cents and contain at least 70% recycled material.

By the end of June, Woolworths intends to phase out plastic bags from the last three remaining states that sell them, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

Coles followed suit and began offering paper bags to customers on May 18. It believes this could remove 230 million plastic bags from circulation a year.

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