Published on Jul 16, 2018

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Plastic bags were banned by supermarkets as of 1 July 2018, under a new system of self-imposed bans in NSW. However, where does this leave the huge proportion of small businesses selling retail goods?

Woolworths and its liquor brand BWS stopped offering single use plastic bags on 20 June 2018. Coles, IGA and Big W commenced the bag ban on 1 July. Target and Kmart are not participating in the ban and have indicated they will continue to use single use plastic bags until 2019.

Single-use plastic bags have already been banned in the ACT, Tasmania, South Australia and Northern Territory. Bans came into effect in Queensland and Western Australia as of July 2018, and in Queensland, retailers will face fines for each single use plastic bag used. In Victoria, a ban will come into play at the end of 2018.

The NSW Government trails behind the other states, with no government-enforced bag ban in sight. With no laws being passed as yet in NSW, ultimately the retail stores will still have the choice whether to continue to offer their customers plastic bags.

While plastic bags are still permitted in NSW, smaller stores who need to provide their shoppers with a bag may choose to opt for a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Customers are becoming more environmentally conscious and may be expecting to see change across their shopping experiences.

Here are some tips that can support your business’ marketing efforts whilst helping save the environment at the same time:
  • put up signs asking your customers to remember their reusable bags, and place some for sale near the register
  • review your packaging, and select materials that are more environmentally friendly, biodegradable or can be reused
  • instead of re-ordering your previous store-printed polyurethane bags, choose paper designs instead, or order a reusable option that your customers would be happy to reuse on an ongoing basis – promoting your brand or logo
  • offer loyalty rewards or discounts when your customer brings their reusable bags
  • leave out packaging boxes for customers to utilise
  • ask your chamber of commerce to undertake some collective purchasing! Work in with your whole retail community and make a group purchase of reusable bags that a whole range of businesses could use and sell. Brand them to promote shopping local, or routinely choose a local charity to co-brand and receive a percentage of the proceeds
Plastic Bag Free NSW advocates that by going plastic bag free your business will:
  • have the opportunity to make additional revenue through the sale of  re-useable bags (with optional branding)
  • be perceived by customers as forward-thinking and progressive
  • join a local, national and international movement towards a more responsible way of doing business
  • help create a healthier and more beautiful local environment for everyone to enjoy.

For more information and resources to help your business go plastic bag free, visit Plastic Bag Free NSW.