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.

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, and can use 

Littering has been a long-running problem across our region.

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 – can have enormous benefits. 

Some detractors have labelled the move as nothing more than tokenism. When South Australia introduced its bag ban, plastic bin liner purchases exploded.

But their society hasn’t imploded. Neither has the ACT or Tasmania.

And the problem of plastic toys, lolly wrappers, plastic foam packaging, and other plastic items still remains.

But surely any change will be for the betterment of the environment.

If humans cannot adapt to what is a minor change to our shopping, then what chance do we have to enable real change over our bad habits?