MAJOR supermarkets’ decision to phase out single-use plastic bags has left the state government trailing behind, according to the Environmentally Concerned Citizens of Orange (ECCO).
ECCO president Nick King welcomed Friday’s news both Coles and Woolworths had decided to go plastic free within the next year.
Woolworths announced it would shortly begin phasing out the bags in supermarkets, Big W and BWS stores in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia, with a total ban in place by June 30.
The stores will now sell thicker, reusable plastic bags, while Big W will offer them free of charge.
Coles followed two hours later, while Harris Farm announced it would go to paper bags and cardboard boxes by January.
“I am encouraged to see Woolworths and Coles making that move, it will make a huge difference,” Mr King said.
“But that doesn’t detract from the urgency for the NSW government to impose a statewide ban on plastic bags, which ECCO has been advocating.”
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Mr King said the state government was “dragging their feet” and had not taken a leadership position.
“Several other states have imposed a ban and the world hasn’t ended,” he said.
“Our environmental track record is pretty appalling.”
South Australia, the ACT, the Northern Territory and Tasmania have already implemented state-wide bans, while there are plans in place for Queensland to do the same next year.
With many shoppers using plastic bags as bin liners at home, Mr King pointed out if they composted their food waste or disposed of it in the green bin correctly, all people needed to throw out were non-recyclable plastics and food wrappers.
Mr King said Plastic-free July had already enjoyed success in Orange this year, with a Boomerang Bags sewing bee and the Orange Farmers Markets going plastic-free.
Woolworths Group chief executive officer Brad Banducci said management would work closely with all store teams to ensure the transition was as simple as possible.
“Our customers can also expect further commitments in reducing plastic use in all parts of our supply chain, especially in fruit and vegetables,” he said.