Plastic bag consumption down 80% since supermarket ban

In the realm of supermarket shopping, there’s nothing quite as frustrating as parking your car and realising you left all of your reusable plastic bags at home.

Because that’s always when you remember – when you’ve parked the car.

You grab your money and reach for your stash of reusable bags, and that’s when it hits you: they’re still in the cupboard or stuffed in the third drawer or under the sink.



It’s not the 15c per plastic bag that is annoying, so much as the knowledge that you’re going to bring home even more plastic to add to the 6 or 7 dozen bags already crammed into your kitchen’s crevices.

The upshot to all of this, however, is the benefit to the environment.

Since Coles and Woolworths implemented a blanket ban on plastic bags starting on July 1 last year (and many other smaller retailers followed suit), consumption of plastic bags has dropped by a whopping 80%.

The National Retail Association (NRA) estimates that a total of 1.5 billion single-use plastic carry bags were eliminated in the first three months following the self-imposed ban.

“Some retailers are reporting reduction rates as high as 90 per cent,” says David Stout, NRA Manager of Industry Policy.

“The major supermarkets have also diverted the profits from the sales of alternative bags to the community sector, with groups such as Landcare, Clean Up Australia, Little Athletics Australia, SecondBite and Guide Dog being the beneficiaries.”

This is fantastic news.

In saying that…

Where are the stats on the increased purchase rates of plastic bin-liners?

And doggie do-do bags, for those walking their pets?

We used to reuse our supermarket plastic bags for both of these purposes, meaning we’ve had to buy plastic bags to compensate – and we can’t be the only ones.

Single use consumption might be down by billions of units, but is there a correlating upward swing in the purchase of other types of plastic bags?

I must admit, the sceptic in me wonders if this paints the full picture.