Pilbara shoppers embrace plastic bag ban

Tom Zaunmayr and Robert DoughertyPilbara News
Coles Karratha support manager Amy Petagna and manager Timothy Lowe.
Camera IconColes Karratha support manager Amy Petagna and manager Timothy Lowe. Credit: Picture: Tom Zaunmayr, Tom Zaunmayr.

Pilbara shoppers are embracing the first of what is hoped will be many major steps to reduce plastic waste in WA as the Statewide single-use plastic bag ban comes into effect.

Woolworths pulled single-use plastic bags from checkouts last week, and the rest of the State will follow suit on July 1.

Coles Karratha manager Timothy Lowe said the response from customers to the single-use plastic bag ban had been positive.

“The biggest winner will be the environment so it is something that is probably long overdue,” he said.

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“This is the first step of many and I know Coles will be looking into other areas where we are using plastic and looking for alternatives.”

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said a change of mindset would be required from WA shoppers to adapt to the changes.

“I guess from the July 1, WA’s plastic bag ban is coming into place, so what we are doing to today is letting people know that as of next week people will have to change their ways and bring a bag, we are giving them some information,” he said.

Video1/5 shoppers still oppose the ban on single use plastic bags.

“We have done polling in the past months and it suggests the vast majority of West Australians support this; it will be a challenge for some people and we’ve have to remember our reusable bags — every time we leave the house or car, we have to be thinking ‘gotta bring the bags as well’,”

“Coles and Woolworths have decided to charge for those heavier bags and we think that people will vote with their feet by bringing their own, saving some money and doing right by the environment at the same time.”

Mr Dawson said it was a “scandal” to see fruit and vegetables on cling-wrapped trays, hinting at further talks with companies around reducing plastic use to come.

Banning single-use plastic bags is in fashion now, but Exmouth was ahead of the times in exiling them 10 years ago.

Exmouth IGA operations manager Dustin Clarke said there was some backlash at the time but the majority were happy to see the ban implemented.

“As a town we are really progressive and a lot of people were pushing for it,” he said.

“It wasn’t well-known nationwide at the time so tourists took it as a bit of novelty and appreciated it , knowing where we live and what we were trying to protect.

“I recall a time you would drive down the main street and see IGA plastic bags blowing around, you hardly see any rubbish now.”

Mr Clarke said businesses in town were not resting on their laurels. IGA is now planning on expanding the use of biodegradable takeaway containers from the deli to the rest of the store.

Hedland shopper Emma Jeans said a lot of people were already taking thicker, sustainable bags and waiting for everyone else to catch-up.

“I think it’s fantastic, people need to get used to it by keeping them in the car — for the sake of the environment,” she said

“I’ve been using them (reusable bags) for years, unless I forget them.”

Woolworths declined an interview request with a local manager.

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