CANBERRA, Australia, March 3,
2004 - The Australian Supermarkets are on track to achieving
a 25% reduction in plastic bag use by the end of this
year, according to Australian Minister for the Environment
and Heritage, Dr. David Kemp.
"I'm delighted to say that
supermarkets have responded magnificently to Governments'
challenge to slash the number of plastic bags they issue," Dr. Kemp said.
"The major supermarkets
have cut plastic bag use by more than 200 million in
the past year and consumers right around the country
are also doing their bit and are using fewer plastic
bags and more reusable ones.
"Ninety percent of supermarkets
have signed up to the voluntary agreement, the Retailers'
Code of Practice, since October last year.
"Coles has used 130 million
fewer plastic bags in the last year and sold 1.6 million
reusable bags. Woolworths' campaign is just kicking
off but has already cut 88 million bags and sold one
million reusable bags. While we don't yet have figures
from all the chains, Franklins, IGA, Foodworks and the
small independents are all putting in place their own
programs to cut plastic bags.
"Preliminary figures suggest
the supermarkets have already achieved a 12% reduction
- a great effort in a few months.
"The supermarkets are running
their own in-store campaigns to alert customers to the
new reusable bags, and to train cashiers to use as few
plastic bags as possible. Coles, for example, is running
a 'Give plastic bags the flick' promotion and Woolworths
'Fill the bag, not the environment'.
"The Australian Government
is making further inroads to reduce our plastic bag
use by funding CleanUp Australia's 'Bag Yourself a Better
Environment' campaign, as are most of the big supermarkets
and independents. Cleanup Australia's 'Say No to Plastic
Bags' advertising campaign will kick off later in March
to generate community support for what the retailers
"What we want everyone to
do is to refuse, reduce, reuse and recycle plastic bags.
If you don't need a plastic bag - say no.
"This all adds up to a really
good start for the voluntary agreement that so many
people said would never work. But it's just the beginning.
Australians were using approximately 6.9 billion new
plastic shopping bags every year, almost half of them
from stores other than supermarkets.
"I'm glad to say that liquor
stores are signing up to the code and offering alternative
green bags, and general chains like Target and Officeworks
are developing new reusable bags for larger and heavier
items. We're also working through the industry associations
to get newsagents, clothing stores, booksellers and
pharmacies on board.
"The big challenge is the
fast food stores. While only 5% of plastic bags come
from fast food stores, they are a major source of litter.
I call on them to join the voluntary groundswell and
to do their bit to cut plastic bags."