Reduction of plastic bag use on the agenda for supermarkets

Posted by Isobel Drake on 14th August 2008

Coles has announced a scheme to encourage consumers to return plastic bags to their stores to celebrate Landcare Week (1-7 September).

For each plastic shopping bag returned to Coles throughout September, the retailer will donate money towards the Junior Landcare School Garden Grant program – a nationwide initiative that allows schools, kindergartens and community groups to develop environmental projects such as water-efficient gardens.

Coles Environment Manager, Paul Lang, believes Junior Landcare is a fantastic program for Coles to be involved with. “Junior Landcare teaches tomorrow’s adults how
important it is to work together now to help save the environment,” Mr Lang said. “It also teaches them fundamental gardening, cultivating and environmental tools, such as how to run a household composting system, that will stay with them for life.”

Landcare Australia CEO, Brian Scarsbrick, said the plastic into plants campaign would appeal to younger shoppers and parents alike. “In a study conducted by Junior Landcare this year, 96 per cent of respondents were worried about climate change,” Mr Scarsbrick said.

The survey, which targeted young people with an average age of 12, also showed that nearly 40 per cent of respondents thought doing something to help the environment was the most important consideration today. This compared to doing homework (22.8 per cent), household chores (16.2 per cent) and playing with friends (13.1 per cent).

The issue of plastic bags has been a source of global debate, with supermarkets and governments offering a wide ranging number of alternative solutions to the problem. In Australia, the Australian National Retailers Association has received permission from the ACCC for supermarkets to trial a 10c levy throughout August in three Victorian locations. The trial will run at Coles, IGA and Safeway stores from August 18 to September 14, with the results of the trial to be analysed and potentially provide the impetus for legislation changes.

The South Australian Government has already committed to a complete phase out of plastic bags, which will begin at the start of next year.