Woolworths announces all stores will ban plastic bags within 12 months

By July 2018, single-use plastic bags will no longer be given out at Woolworths stores. Photo: iStock
By July 2018, single-use plastic bags will no longer be given out at Woolworths stores. Photo: iStock

Supermarket giant Woolworths has announced that its stores across Australia will stop giving out single-use plastic bags in the next 12 months.

The move will also extend to Big W and BWS stores, which are owned by the Woolworths Group, and is expected to be in place by July 2018.

"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," Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci said.

"Our customers can also expect further commitments in reducing plastic use in all parts of our supply chain, especially in fruit and vegetables.

The ACT, South Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory have already banned plastic bags and Queensland will implement a ban in mid-2018.

Woolworths' latest move comes amid a growing social media campaign to 'ban the bag', which is calling on the premiers of NSW, Victoria and Western Australia to introduce state-wide bans of single-use non-biodegradable plastic bags.

A petition being circulated online has been signed by more than 160,000 people.

German supermarket chain Aldi, which opened in Australia in 2001, has never provided single-use plastic bags at the checkout and sells multi-use bags for 15 cents and fabric bags for 99 cents.

However, Australian retailers, who have complained about the cost of navigating different regulations in different states, are believed to be behind delays in implementing plastic bag bans in some places, including Victoria.