Woolworths ditches plastic bags

WOOLWORTHS will completely phase out single-use plastic bags across the country over the next 12 months, in a major announcement made today.

Customers will instead be required to either pay 15 cents for a reusable bag or bring their own.

The supermarket says it currently gives out more than 3.2 billion lightweight plastic bags a year, describing the bag ban as "the right thing to do as one of Australia's largest retailers".

The decision will affect stores in NSW, Victoria and WA, bringing them into line with South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT, which already have statewide bans on plastic bags. Queensland's state government has legislated a ban, which comes into effect next year.

It will cover all Woolworths stores, including supermarkets, Big W and liquor chain BWS. Dan Murphy's and Cellarmasters have already scrapped single-use bags.

"As a group we are committed to listening to our customers and also doing the right thing for the environment, and we feel this is an issue we need to take a stand on," Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said in a statement on Friday.

"We currently give out more than 3.2 billion lightweight plastic bags a year and hence can play a significant role in reducing overall plastic bag usage. Today's commitment shows we are committed to taking our environmental and community responsibilities seriously.

"Whilst we know this is a major decision, we will work very closely with all of our store teams to ensure the transition for our customers is as simple as possible.

"Our customers expect responsible retailing and they can be assured that this is just the start of further commitments by Woolworths in this space. Our team continues to work hard to minimise our impact on the environment through the minimisation of food waste, ethical and sustainable sourcing, and reduction in energy use."