'Don't bag the staff': Shoppers hit back at complaints over Woolies plastic bag ban

Shoppers have gone into bat for besieged Woolworths staff who were forced to deal with the backlash from the supermarket’s ban on single-use plastic bags.

In the much-publicised build-up to the ban, customers were urged to have patience with staff in Woolworths as the change came into force – but that message seemed to fall on deaf ears, with shoppers quick to express their displeasure.

“This is nothing more than a cash grab,” one of many frustrated social media users wrote this week, along with others who accused the supermarket giant of still using too much plastic in other areas.

How much does it cost Woolworths for the plastic bags you are charging 15 cents for? Making a profit on bags now when we got the old ones for free not happy Jan

Posted by David John on Thursday, June 21, 2018

Great to see you’ve banned single use plastic bags… any chance you can stop wrapping capsicum, Apples, celery etc in UNNECESSARY plastic. !?

Posted by Hannah Woodroffe on Thursday, June 21, 2018

But amongst the litany of criticism, some shoppers backed in the message of “don’t bag the retail staff”.

“They have been advertising for months and months about this. Harden up and make a change to help the planet you have to live on,” one shopper wrote.

“Get with the times, buy a 99c bag, remember to take it with you and be done with it,” another added.

Suck it up people and take responsibility for your own choices. I've been using my own bags for years with no problem….

Posted by Veronica Viler on Thursday, June 21, 2018

I want to congratulate Woolies on taking the lead on no longer supplying plastic bags. It will take a bit of adjustment…

Posted by Helen Buick on Thursday, June 21, 2018

Thanks for getting rid of the bags Woolies. Hang in there while folks get used to it.

Posted by Kym Watling on Thursday, June 21, 2018

Retail union SDA’s national secretary Gerard Dwyer said the ban had been widely publicised and customers needed to bear with staff during the changeover.

“While we understand that some customers may be frustrated by this change, there is no excuse for abusive or violent behaviour towards retail staff,” Mr Dwyer said.

“Retail workers should not have to bear the brunt of any abusive behaviour, just for following the new rules.”

The bag for good costs just 99cents. Source: AAP
The bag for good costs just 99cents. Source: AAP

Queensland and Western Australia will enforce the bag bans from July 1, joining South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT and the Northern Territory.

Recent research from Canstar Blue found one in five shoppers are opposed to the bag bans, predicting many would be confused by the sudden lack of plastic bags despite the publicity in the lead-up to the change.

Plastic waste washes up on Australia’s distant shores

Debris and plastic litter found by Tangaroa Blue, an Australian Marine debris initiative, on Christmas Island. Source: Reuters
Debris and plastic litter found by Tangaroa Blue, an Australian Marine debris initiative, on Christmas Island. Source: Reuters

Volunteers this week collected 1.5 tonnes of plastic waste on palm-fringed beaches of Christmas Island in just a few days.

Flotsam and jetsam, especially plastic bags and one-use containers, cover the shoreline of the Australian island.

“People really need to understand that an item that they’ve used can cause so much harm in the environment,” said Heidi Taylor, managing director of Tangaroa Blue, an Australian charity that picks up marine rubbish.

Some eight million tonnes of plastic garbage – bottles, packaging and other waste – is dumped in the sea every year, killing marine life, the United Nations Environment Programme says.