Woolworths has bid farewell to single-use bags, but the move has already been met with backlash from customers calling them out for using unnecessary plastic throughout their stores.
Shoppers must now bring along re-usable bags or buy thicker 15c reusable bags, or $1 green bags, at the retailer’s supermarkets, BWS, Metro and petrol outlets.
On day one of the new ban there have already been reports of supermarkets running out of green bags and customers using plastic fruit and vegetable bags as alternatives, across the retail giant’s stores.
One man described “chaos” as shoppers tried to adjust to an absence of plastic shopping bags.
“Not a good look, Woolworths!” he tweeted.
Well said, Andrew. Chaos at Woolworths today, as shoppers try to adjust to an absence of plastic shopping bags. Not a good look, Woolworths !
— Owen Loney (@Minerva452010) June 20, 2018
Others have called out the supermarket giant for being “hypocritical” by packaging their produce with single-use plastic.
One woman was shocked to find her online order was covered in layers of plastic, calling it “excessive”.
“First online order today and my chicken fillets were packed in a deli plastic bag, then wrapped in paper, then put in a grey bag, then a produce bag and then in their 80% recyclable bags,” she reported on Facebook.
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A Shellharbour man on Thursday shared pictures of trays of various fruit and vegetables packaged in plastic.
“I’m all for getting rid of plastic bags but I think it’s time the supermarkets were too,” he shared.
Woolworths explained on Facebook that some produce is wrapped to keep it fresh, or to enable the product to be sold in bulk.
They said it had reduced the amount of plastic used in its fresh produce department by 140 tonnes in the past year.
Woolies also responded to one woman who accused the retail giant of using the ban as a cash grab, to sell 15c sturdier bags, with the retailer acknowledging it still had a way to go.
“We’re committed to playing our part in reducing plastic usage, we know there is a lot more we can be doing and this is just the start,” a Woolworths representative responded on the woman’s Facebook post.
Experts say the re-usable bags need to be used 20 to 100 times before they become better options than their single-use counterparts, because of the materials used to produce them.
Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci called the ban a “landmark day” towards a greener future for Australia.
“We are proud to say that from now on, single-use plastic bags are gone from our stores, for good,” he said.
Mr Banducci acknowledged it could take shoppers a while to adjust to the ban.
“Putting ‘re-usable bags’ at the top of your shopping list, keeping a couple in the car or leaving a post-it note on the fridge are some simple tricks that could work as a reminder,” he said.
Woolworths and Coles last July joined a push to rid Australia of disposable plastic bags and set a deadline of June 30, 2018 for their stores to stop offering them to shoppers.
Woolies, which has provided more than 3.2 billion plastic bags a year to shoppers, later brought forward that deadline to June 20.
Green groups have welcomed the bans being introduced by Coles and Woolworths.
Similar bans in Britain and Ireland have helped reduce plastic bag usage by up to 85 per cent.
Woolworths and Coles have also recently announced plans to slash the amount of plastic wrapping on fresh fruit and vegetables in response to demand from shoppers.