‘Shame on you’: Fury at bag ban
WE'RE just one day into the plastic bag ban and already tensions have flared in the supermarket aisles.
There are reports of stores running out of green bags entirely, shoppers walking out in disgust and customers using the still-free plastic fruit and veg bags as alternatives.
Who knew trying to do a good thing for the environment would be met with so much whinging?
Just days after Woolies announced they were getting rid of single use bags their Facebook page has been flooded with complaints.
"Do you think we are stupid?" said one customer, accusing the supermarkets of profiteering from the ban. Another said she was "horrified" that while single-use bags had been banned, their replacements were thicker and would potentially take even longer to break down.
But Woolworths has said its sole aim is to encourage customers to bring their own bags and reduce plastic.
Some customers have come to the supermarket's defence, calling its detractors "whingers".
Woolies withdrew thin, single use plastic bags yesterday in the states where government bans were not already in place. Coles and many IGA stores will follow suit on July 1 when the Victorian and Queensland governments enact bag bans. Only NSW doesn't require the bags to be excised from check-outs but the big chains have opted to remove them anyway.
Australia's largest supermarket chain said it gave out 3.2 billion single-use bags a year; you can add another couple of billion to that figure for Coles.
In their place are a range of reusable bags ranging in price and sturdiness, starting at 15c each.
And it's these alternatives that have riled some on Woolies' Facebook page.
"I have been horrified to think that Woolworths thinks it is OK to sell thick plastic bags to replace thin bags. I see this as even worse for our environment, as these new bags will take even longer than the old plastic bags to disintegrate," Julie Johnstone said.
"Try harder, Woolworths," Daniel Rohanna said. "You really have missed the point haven't you? Removing plastic bags at check-outs to then sell 'reusable' plastic bags at check-outs is completely beyond me.
"Stores such as Harris Farm were able to successfully implement their plastic bag ban months ago by replacing them with paper bags or reusing cardboard packaging boxes. Yet your big business attitude is beyond thinking outside the box and you've have merely thrown more fuel on the fire."
That plastic should have been replaced by paper was a common gripe. But while paper certainly breaks down quicker than plastic, its production uses far more energy and resources than plastic bags.
One customer recommended people write their names on their reusable bags. He claimed he'd been charged at the checkout for a bag he already owned.
Others were suspicious of the supermarket's motives, suspecting there was some extra coin being made somewhere.
"Isn't this convenient for Woolworths saving money buying the bags?" Mark Fletcher said. "Talk about greed. Woolworths, with all of this money saved, will we have reduced price food now? What do you think we are? Stupid?"
"Everyone will now need to buy plastic bags from Woolworths or Coles to line their bins at home, so they sell more product of the shelf. This is a win, win, win for Woolies and Coles," Zaya Toma said.
"What a total load of crap," said Natasha Tiffany on Woolies' Facebook page, not mincing her words.
"Not only are you still supplying plastic bags, you are now going to make money off them. I am beyond disappointed … that yet again you have put profit before environment … shame on you."
It also hasn't gone unnoticed that while the checkout may be single-use bag free, there is lots of plastic elsewhere in the store. Customers have been busily snapping plastic-packed salads, lettuces and apples, as well as the plastic bags in the fresh produce areas.
"Why is it necessary to package bananas? Nature already did it for you," Chris Freebs said.
On social media, Woolies has responded to customers missing their plastic fix. Certain produce is wrapped, it said, to keep it fresh or where it's sold in bulk. The firm said it had reduced the amount of plastic used in its fresh produce department by 140 tonnes in the past year.
Not all customers are grumbling. Georgia Vaughan said Woolies' move was "genius".
"I'm sorry that you have to deal with uneducated whingers who don't understand the good you are doing," she said on Facebook.
Yesterday, Mr Banducci, said fewer plastic bags would mean less pollution.
"We know it may take some time for shoppers to form new habits, which is why we've been working hard to get the message out to customers to remember to bring their own bags," he said.
"Putting 'reusable bags' at the top of your shopping list, keeping a couple in the car or leaving a Post-it Note on the fridge are some simple tricks that could work as a reminder."
Woolworths said its 15c bags were made from 80 per cent recycled material and money from the sale of its 99c "bag for good" green bags would go to Junior Landcare projects.
But there's no persuading some people.
"Not happy about having to pay for plastic bags. Won't be shopping with you again," Eddie Leahy said on Facebook.
"I wasn't the only one at the checkout today who was not impressed. Listening to the vocal minority by the sounds of it. I dumped my shopping and went to Coles."
Come July 1, when Coles bans the bags too, that option won't be on the table for disgruntled shoppers.