Eagle-eyed Coles shoppers may notice a new addition to the ever-expanding choice of plastic bags cashiers have on offer.
Adorned with a cartoon picture of a swimming fish, the new bags are made of recycled marine waste, which the supermarket says will help reduce their reliance on virgin plastic.
Costing 25 cents each, the bags are made from 80 per cent recycled materials of which 20 per cent is marine rubbish.
Much of the waste is collected in Malaysia’s inland areas and waterways which feed into the ocean.
The bags are available in all Australian states except Western Australia.
What to consider when buying a supermarket plastic bag
When it comes to the green credentials of reusable plastic bags, Total Environment Centre director Jeff Angel says consumers should consider three main issues:
The weight it can carry.
The distance you can carry it.
The number of times you can do that trip.
“We need answers to those three issues before you can give it the tick of reusability,” he said.
“Without that, they’re not much use.”
Mr Angel believes bags should have strength to be reused a minimum of 150 times.
Coles were unable to speculate about how many times their bag could be reused, because different individuals use them differently, but confirmed its plastic gauge is 55 microns.
Call to introduce national plastic bag standards
Mr Angel said state and federal governments must introduce national standards for bags, like California did years ago.
He warns supermarkets have previously made environmental claims that “that don't stack up”.
Mr Angel would also like to see a renewed focus on reusability, recycled content and compostability.
“Creating a market for collected waste is useful, but we need to see this mainstreamed to meet the national targets,” he said.
“End of life treatment should be compostable waste, not for example, incineration."
Recycled produce bags set to be introduced by Coles
Once Coles bags are at the end of their life, they can be taken to the supermarket’s in-store REDcycle soft plastics bins.
The company claims to have captured over 2.3 billion pieces of soft plastic since their program began in 2011.
As part of their new sustainability push, Coles is also unveiling new reusable mesh produce bags to carry fruit and vegetables.
Made from 90 per cent recycled material, their roll out follows the introduction of fresh produce bags made from 50 per cent recycled plastic this year.
States announce new single-use plastic bans
As Coles works to create a more environmentally friendly image, Australia's states and territories are increasingly banning single-use plastics.
NSW was the last state to act, finally introducing a lightweight plastic bag ban to be effective June 1.
Other single-use items including plastic straws, cutlery, bowls and plates will be outlawed from November.
From July 1, cotton buds with plastic sticks, expanded polystyrene takeaway food containers and a host of other single use plastic items will be banned in the ACT.
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