Editorial: Plastic bag changes good for environment

MOVES to ban plastic bags should be applauded.

Woolworths recently announced it would phase out single-use plastic bags at its supermarkets, and at Big W and BWS stores over the next year.

The stores will now sell a different range of bags, including thicker, reusable bags. 

Coles followed suit soon after its major rival's announcement by revealing it too would stop using the bags over the next 12 months.

The Maldon IGA recently took the lead too as part of the town’s bid to join a growing number of Victorian towns and become plastic bag-free.

Environmental groups praised the moves by Woolworths and Coles, and rightly so.

While filling up a bag or two at the supermarket might seem like a fairly innocuous move, the products can have a negative, and lasting, impact on the environment.

According to Clean Up Australia, people use a staggering 10 million new plastic bags across the county each day.

An estimated 20,700 tonnes of plastic bags are disposed of in landfill each year, with close to four billion bags dumped as waste each year.

It's estimated that more than a million seabirds are killed by plastic across the globe each year.

CSIRO research shows half the turtles around the world and two-thirds of some bird species found on Australia's east coast have ingested plastics. 

The bags are made from non-renewable resources, like crude oil.

Local organisations, like the Loddon Mallee Waste and Resource Recovery Group, are pushing for people to stop using them in our region.

They aim to educate people about the harmful effects of the products, including the impact they can have on the environment and wildlife. 

Littering has been a long-running problem in local waterways, with bags regularly seen polluting our waterways and clogging our drainage systems.

For businesses, changing over to sustainable and less polluting bags can be a simple move. Thicker multiple-use bags are readily available and won't cost more than a few cents for customers to purchase. 

Small changes to shopping habits – like bringing along a hessian bag to a supermarket or shopping centre – can have enormous benefits. 

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