The National Retail Association (NRA) has announced that it will partner with the Victorian Government ahead of the state’s ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags due to come into effect by the end of 2019.
With Victoria introducing a ban, all Australian states and territories, except NSW, will have bag bans in place by the end of 2019.
NRA Manager of Industry Policy David Stout said that the NRA is looking to emulate the success it has had in Queensland and Western Australia in helping retailers transition away from the use of lightweight plastic bags towards sustainable alternatives.
“The removal of lightweight plastic shopping bags is one of the biggest reforms to happen in the retail sector in a generation and it’s important that it is done right. It’s a major behavioural change for shoppers, and retailers need to be adequately prepared for the reform.”
Mr Stout said that the NRA will be working closely with Victorian retailers to explain the policy change and provide advice about durable and sustainable packaging options that retailers can adopt to ensure they are compliant with the ban.
“In Queensland and Western Australia the NRA engaged over 20,000 businesses in assisting with the transition away from lightweight plastic shopping bags,” Mr Stout said.
“It’s important to remember that bag ban legislation applies to all retailers, large and small – from supermarkets to pharmacies, from fast food outlets to petrol stations.
“For many businesses, giving a free plastic shopping bag to every customer incurs substantial costs to their business and they will need to consider a range of available alternatives which could either increase or reduce business costs.
“In addition, retailers who do not comply with the new laws when they come into effect will be exposed to substantial fines, risk disrupting their business and upsetting customers if they fail to prepare for the transition.”
Mr Stout noted that the Victorian bag ban is the first step, not the only step, in reducing plastic pollution across the state. The positive impact of bag bans on communities around Australia also provides encouragement that Victorians will embrace the ban with enthusiasm..
“In Queensland, which introduced its ban six months ago, the majority of shoppers have adjusted extremely well to bringing their own bags, and are not replacing like-for-like with compliant bags, so much so that retailers are reporting up to 90% drop in total bag consumption.
“We are also continuing to work with retailers and state governments on further initiatives to help reduce plastic pollution and improve Australia’s environment.”
The NRA will commence its engagement with Victorian retailers in March 2019 including the launch of a website and hotline for accessing information about the ban.
Further information on plastic bag bans across Australia can be found at the dedicated website or by contacting the NRA’s Bag Ban Hotline on 1800 817 723.