Plastic bags could potentially be removed from our biggest department stores. Picture: iStock
Plastic bags could potentially be removed from our biggest department stores. Picture: iStock

Bag ban reaches Myer and DJs

JUST months after Coles and Woolworths introduced a controversial ban on plastic bags, it seems some of our most iconic retailers might soon follow suit.

According to several news reports, Aussie department store giants Myer and David Jones are both considering phasing out plastic bags in the lead up to Christmas.

Single use plastic bags under 35 microns - the thin types seen at supermarkets, butchers and fruit shops around the country - have already been officially banned across all states and territories in the country except NSW and Victoria, although the ban will be rolled out in Victoria by the end of 2019.

 

A similar ban is not yet on the cards in NSW, leaving individual retailers free to make their own call on the matter.

Earlier this year, supermarket heavyweights Coles and Woolworths both voluntarily scrapped free plastic bags from all stores, instead selling thicker, reusable plastic bags for 15 cents each.

While the move was welcomed by environmental groups, it also sparked widespread backlash among many shoppers who objected to either having to pay for a formerly free item, or remember to bring their own from home.

But according to the Daily Mail, "David Jones and Myer are looking to potentially follow the trend".

The publication claimed those stores may replace plastic bags with fabric or cardboard options as part of a "revamped business strategy" to attract customers and turn around the ailing businesses, with both recording significant drops in profits in recent years.

Queensland University of Technology retail expert Dr Gary Mortimer said plastic bag bans were a "complex issue".

"If department stores were to implement a bag ban I think what they would ultimately do would be to continue to provide the existing bags, and simply charge customers 15 cents for them," he said.

"They may choose not to pass that cost on to shoppers and cover the cost themselves."

He said banning bags from department store was entirely different situation from removing them from supermarkets.

"What shoppers won't do is bring their own bags (to department stores) because they are not shopping at Myer and David Jones as frequently as they are shopping at supermarkets," he said.

"Ultimately the reason why there was such a backlash in supermarkets was because of the frequency of shops, they were exposed to having to spend 15 cents a bag two or three times a week, every time they go to the supermarket. But if you spent $100 on a blouse at David Jones, 15 cents is nothing."

But he said if department stores were to get rid of plastic bags or start charging for them, it would likely be welcomed by the public.

"There is a strong movement around corporate social responsibility, and particularly in leveraging your green credentials, so if David Jones and Myer were to come out saying, 'listen, we're going to start charging 15 cents, but we will donate a proportion of that to Clean Up Australia', that would be seen as a good thing," he said.

A Myer spokesman would not comment on the brand's specific bag policy, but said the current bags used in store were already reusable.

"Myer shopping bags are reusable and are similar to the bags that supermarkets are now offering customers to replace their single use plastic bags," the spokesman said.

"Once multiuse bags are no longer fit for reuse, they can be recycled by dropping them off at any REDcycle collection point."

David Jones was also contacted for comment but a response has not been received.


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