Woolworths on Friday became the first Australian grocery store to make the pledge, which ensures a regular trip to the local supermarket “is having less impact on the environment”.
Woolworths has announced it will stop selling its 15-cent reusable plastic bags across the country in a gradual phase out over the next year.
The supermarket giant on Friday became the first Australian grocery store to make the pledge to ditch plastic shopping bags for good.
In a statement, Woolworths Group confirmed the 15-cent plastic shopping bags will be gone from the more than 1,000 supermarkets nationwide by June 2023.
Subsidiary BIG W will also conclude the sale of 15-cent and 45-cent reusable plastic bags in the same time frame.
The retailer will introduce additional bag options to complement its existing line of fabric bags and printed totes.
Woolworths says eight in 10 customers already bring their own bags for their groceries and it continues to encourage all shoppers to do so to “boost sustainability”.
Managing Director of Woolworths Supermarkets Natalie Davis said the reusable plastic bags were first introduced in 2018 to help customers “adjust” to the removal of single use plastic bags.
“We’ve seen a huge shift in shopping habits since we stopped giving out single use plastic bags, with eight out of ten customers now bringing their own bags from home,” she said.
“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.
“Bringing your own bags is the very best outcome for the environment, and we encourage our customers to keep up the great work.”
Paper bags will continue to be available for shoppers who forget to bring their own bags, but the supermarket giant “ultimately” wants to sell less bags altogether.
“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,” Ms Davis said.
“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.”
Woolworths stores in Western Australia began phasing out the bags in March ahead of new local plastic laws in the state.
No other states are currently subject to laws on the sale of thicker reusable plastic bags.
South Australia and the Northern Territory will be the next to begin the transition, which will start in September. The rest of Australia will then follow.
Customers will be reminded of the changes ahead of time via email and through advertising and signs in store.
Plastic bags to carry fruit and vegetables will continue to be available to customers in the produce department but Woolworths is working “to explore more sustainable options”.