NSW Minister for Western Sydney Diane Beamer, who launched the initiative in Sydney said the Bunnings move was a win-win deal for the environment. "Customers will think twice before using the disposable plastic bags," Ms Beamer said, adding, "And the funds raised from the levy, possibly $1m a year, will go to Keep Australia Beautiful’s community-based programs and campaigns."
Australian state environment ministers agreed last month that retailers should phase out the use of single-use plastic bags within five years or face the possibility of mandatory action, in the form of a levy or ban. Bunnings is the first retailer off the mark.
Ms Beamer said the initiative was a responsible reaction to community and government concerns over the damage plastic bags did to the environment. "Those of us who spend plenty of time shopping know how easy it is to collect plastic bags. This levy will make us consider other options," she said, "The best outcome is that eventually customers bring their own bags to the stores and the retailer collects nothing in plastic bag levies."
Earlier campaigns by Bunnings resulted in disposable plastic bag usage in its stores dropping from 24.9 million to 18.1 million per year. "It is hoped that by the end of 2003, there will be a 50 per cent reduction in the distribution of plastic bags at Bunnings stores," Ms Beamer said. "I hope other retailers see the merit in this move."