Woolworths and Big W ditching all plastic shopping bags: 'Gone for good'

Woolworths has today announced a major move in favour of sustainability, becoming the first nationwide supermarket to pledge to remove all plastic shopping bags.

The retail giant said it will stop selling its 15 cent reusable plastic shopping bags nationwide, with the phase-out set to be complete by June 2023.

Big W stores are also set to implement the change, announcing that they will also phase out their 15 cent and 45 cent reusable plastic bags from stores by June next year.

Woolworths plastic shopping bags in store being packed and held by customers
Woolworths and Big W will help customers prepare for the upcoming change, with reminders via email, advertising and signs in store. Source: Woolworths

West Australian stores have already begun the phase-out in response to local plastic laws throughout the state. South Australian and Northern Territory stores are set to be the next to remove plastic bags, with other states to follow.

Woolworths will begin running out stock of their plastic bags this September in preparation for the change, which will affect all Woolworths supermarkets, Metros and Online orders.

Woolworths' paper bags made from 70 per cent recycled paper will remain available to those who need them.

Plastics decision based on 'shift in shopping habits'

Woolworths' history-making decision follows a change in consumer habits which indicate that many customers may be unaffected by the change.

"Our reusable plastic bags were introduced back in 2018 to help customers adjust to the removal of single use plastic bags from our stores," Natalie Davis, Managing Director of Woolworths Supermarkets said.

"We've seen a huge shift in shopping habits since we stopped giving out single use plastic bags, with eight out of 10 customers now bringing their own bags from home.

"The reusable plastic bags have played their part and now it's time to do away with selling plastic shopping bags at our checkouts for good."

Big W and Woolworths storefronts
Green bags and paper bags will continue to be available at Woolworths, and Big W will continue to offer fabric bags and printed totes. Source: Getty Images

"Customers expect us to lead on sustainability, and this is one way we are growing greener by reducing plastic and ensuring the regular trip to your local Woolworths or Big W is having less impact on the environment.

"We know the change may be an adjustment for some customers and that's why we're phasing this change in over the coming year. We'd like to thank customers in advance for their support as we all work together to create a better tomorrow."

Supermarket working on sustainable produce options

Smaller-scale plastic produce bags will continue to be available to customers purchasing fruit and vegetables while the reusable bags begin their phase-out.

In a media release, Woolworths said they are "working to explore more sustainable options" for the produce bags.

South Australian Woolworths stores had made a change to compostable fruit and vegetable bags earlier this year in response to the state's nation-leading access to household composting.

In the meantime, the Woolworths website encourages customers to "replace your single-use plastic bags with reusable bags" which are available to purchase in store.

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