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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Plastic check-out bag use in non-supermarket retail outlets

Planet Ark Environmental Foundation for the
Department of the Environment and Heritage, March 2005


The research study

Definition of plastic bags

For the purpose of this report, Planet Ark adopts the Nolan ITU definition of a ‘plastic shopping bag’ as being a single use polymer carry bag provided or utilised at the retail point of sale for carrying and transporting retail goods.

This includes all plastic retail carry bags, but excludes produce bags used in-store, dry cleaning bags, garbage bags and other primary product packaging.

The primary plastic bags used in the non-supermarket retail sector are two types of single use ‘singlet’ bags:

  1. high density polyethylene (HDPE) bags; and
  2. ‘boutique’ style bags, made of low density polyethylene (LDPE).

Methodology

Between October 8th, 2004 and February 18th, 2005 Planet Ark contacted 202 retailers and 12 distributors to take part in a non-supermarket retailer survey investigating the use of plastic check-out bags and plastic bag alternatives.

Retailers in 43 retail sectors that use plastic check-out bags were asked to participate in the survey. The selections of retail sectors chosen for interview were made in conjunction with the Australian Retailers Association and the Department of the Environment and Heritage.

Each retailer was asked a series of up to 12 questions and each distributor was asked 11 questions. Not all retailers responded to all questions.

Participation results

The results of this survey show that a total of 129 retailers took part:

96 retailers out of 202 retailers contacted (48%) completed the survey in full.

A further 33 retailers out of 202 retailers contacted (16%) gave input and made comments on specific parts of the survey but did not complete the survey in full.

Despite repeated attempts to contact them, 73 retailers (36%) either failed to respond to the questionnaire or refused to participate. This is despite the fact that Planet Ark’s research staff personally contacted all 202 retailers on at least five occasions.

7 distributors out of 12 distributors contacted completed the survey in full.

5 distributors either failed to respond to the questionnaire or refused to participate. This is despite the fact that Planet Ark’s research staff personally contacted all distributors on at least five occasions.

A complete copy of the results from both the retailers and distributors survey can be seen in Appendix A and Appendix B.