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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell

12 March 2005

Minister gives supermarkets a wrap

The Australian Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell today praised supermarkets for their commitment to reducing plastic bag use with the release of two consumption reports.

Two new reports, one from Nolan ITU, commissioned by the Department of the Environment and Heritage in December 2004, and the other from the Australian Retailers Association, both indicate the number of bags issued has fallen significantly.

"Supermarkets are leading the way and I challenge others, particularly small retailers and the clothing and department store sectors, to follow their lead," Senator Campbell said.

"In 2002, we used an estimated six billion lightweight carry plastic bags. That's a phenomenal amount of waste, which is not only an eye sore but potentially lethal to some of our wildlife.

"The new survey by Nolan ITU estimates that 4.77 billion lightweight plastic carry bags (or 613 per household) were used during 2004 compared with 5.95 billion in 2002. Overall, Australians have reduced bag use by around 21 per cent since 2002."

Senator Campbell said more work needs to be done with the non-supermarket retailers which have only reduced bag use by between 10-15 per cent.

"The good news is, according to the Nolan ITU report, supermarkets have managed to reduce their use of lightweight plastic bags by 25 per cent. This is consistent with retailers' findings that major supermarkets have recorded similar impressive decrease of 26.9 per cent. Even though usage is still high, I congratulate supermarkets and consumers alike in their clear commitment to reducing their use of plastic bags," he said.

The ARA reported on performance during 2004 against the targets set in the 'Code of Practice Target for the Management of Plastic Bags'. The Code aims to reduce plastic bag use by 50 per cent by the end of 2005.

"I will be convening a second roundtable with supermarkets and non-supermarket retailers on 22 March to further explore ways in which we can work together to meet this target," he said.

For more information about the Nolan ITU report visit the web site at

Media Contact:
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia