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

15 September 2005

Plastic bags usage cut by 34 per cent

Supermarket shoppers continue to pass up on plastic bags in favour of more environmentally friendly alternatives, with a report released today showing a significant cut in usage.

The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the Australian Retailers' Association report showed that lightweight plastic bag use in the three and a half years to 30 June this year had been cut by more than one billion bags or 33.8 per cent.

"This is a very good result," Senator Campbell said.

"It is clear evidence of a change of culture by shoppers and the excellent work being done by the major supermarkets to encourage their customers to switch to reusable and other carry bags.

"The target is to achieve a cut of 50 per cent by the end of this year. That remains a challenging goal, but it is within reach if everyone keeps playing their part."

The voluntary targets agreed to by the major supermarkets and Federal, State and Territory governments under a code of practice are based on 2002 usage rates.

During 2002, Australian shoppers in all sectors used a total of 6 billion lightweight bags. Half of these were in major supermarkets.

Senator Campbell said another report, by consultants Nolan ITU, showed that in the first half of this year, shoppers in all sectors used 2.15 billion bags, indicating 4.5 billion bags for the full year.

"This would mean be a cut of 1.5 billion bags since 2002 which is a huge win for the environment," he said.

Media contact:
Renae Stoikos (02) 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434

Commonwealth of Australia