WHEN WE GET RID OF PLASTIC BAGS WE ALL WIN
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  PLASTIC BAG PHASE OUT

Clean Up Australia supported The Australian Retailers Association Code of Practice for the Management of Plastic Bags. During its years of operation from 2003 to 2005, the voluntary Code of Practice saw a reduction in consumption of plastic bags from 5.95 billion bags in 2002 to 3.92 billion bags in 2005, with a further fall to 3.36 billion in 2006.

Unfortunately, in recent years consumption has again increased, reaching 3.93 billion bags in 2007.

In June 2007, the Environmental Protection and Heritage Council committed again to phasing out plastic bags by 1 January 2009. Options canvassed included imposing a ban on plastic bags and a mandatory charge upon retailers for use of plastic bags.

Whilst the regulatory environment is currently on the back foot, community attitudes are changing and consumers are starting to demand alternatives to plastic bags.

Many consumers are choosing reusable bags, with the result that, overall, bag use has declined since 2002 and sales of alternatives such as polypropylene ‘green’ bags have increased.

If you are a retailer selling food products, you will need to consider food safety, hygiene and cross-contamination issues when considering alternatives to light-weight plastic bags. Consider replacing lightweight plastic bags with paper bags, biodegradable bags or other options (like barrier bags) if it is practical for your business, and aim to reduce your store's use of plastic bags.

Plastic bag use, other than for food and safety reasons, is an unnecessary use of resources and sends a negative environmental message that can lead to a loss of customer loyalty.

By acting now, you'll have plenty of time to explore the alternatives, choose the right one for your business, cut your plastic bag costs and start marketing your actions to your customers and the media.

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