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By the end of next year, retailers, takeaways and small stores will be parting way with any lightweight plastic bags – in fact, it will be illegal if they provide customers with any single-use bags. The move comes after major Australian retailers such as Woolworths and Coles took it upon themselves to take plastic bags out of circulation in an attempt to protect the environment– although, Coles has recently decided to make reusable plastic bags free.

Single-use plastic bags are filling up Australian landfills and having a devastating impact on the environment and local wildlife. Bans on plastic bags in countries like the United Kingdom have resulted in a reduction of plastic waste of up to 85 percent. That’s a success rate Australia should aim to emulate.

The ban will cover all plastic bags that are less than 35 microns thick, but exemptions have been given for smaller bags for meat, vegetables and fruit. Trash bags, bags for animal waste and heavier bags will also be exempt, although there are plans to extend the ban in the future once quality alternatives have been found.

The campaign to reduce the use of plastic bags is a national effort but will take some getting used to, and we’ll all need to make some adjustments. Co-founder of the National Plastic Bag campaign, John Dee, offers these suggestions to make the transition easier:

When throwing away household trash, instead of using a plastic bag as a bin liner:

  • Use newspaper to line your bin and wash the bin regularly with the disinfectant.
  • Throw trash straight into your indoor bin and empty it daily into an outdoor bin.
  • Wrap perishables in the newspaper before disposing of them straight into the outdoor bin.
  • Perishables that are particularly strong smelling – such as fish –could be wrapped in newspaper and kept in the freezer until trash collection day.

At the supermarket:

  • Take your own grocery bags to the store.
  • Purchase reusable bags from your retailer.
  • Ask for your fresh produce to be packed in a crate or box.

Adjusting to life without single-use plastic bags will inevitably take a little time, but it’s definitely worth it for a cleaner and the less polluted world. Your efforts will pay off for generations to come. For larger waste removals and recycling, contact WM Waste Management Services here.