PLASTIC straws will no longer be available at Woolworths Echuca and Moama stores by the end of this year.
Founder of the Echuca Moama Plastic Bag Free Samantha Ferrier said supermarkets were beginning to listen — at last.
‘‘Consumers have made themselves heard loud and clear that they do not want their groceries wrapped in unnecessary plastic and there is a far greater understanding of the detrimental impact items such as plastic straws and plastic bags can have on the environment ... 134 million less plastic straws in circulation every year is a big win, especially combined with the handful of local cafes and restaurants who have also committed to eliminating plastic straws,’’ Miss Ferrier said.
‘‘I’m also really pleased sales from Woolworths’ Bag for Good will go to the Junior Landcare Grants Program.
‘‘What’s really important is the reusable 15 cent and 99 cent bags sold at Woolworths are actually being reused by their customers.’’
Miss Ferrier said people needed to make sure reusable plastic bags did not end up in landfill.
‘‘As litter or even in the bottom of the cupboard,’’ she said. ‘‘Rather than purchasing a bag every time we go shopping, it’s really important that we remember to bring our own bags. Shoppers can also bring their own produce bags for items such as beans, spinach and leaves to eliminate the need for using plastic carrier bags.
‘‘Big supermarkets have gone too far down the path of over-packaging their fresh produce, and while this commitment to remove packaging from 80 produce items is a great step in the right direction, we need to see it removed from all fresh produce.’’
Woolworths Echuca, Kerang, Kyabram and Moama group manager Amanda Herezo said it had been ‘‘well documented plastic straws do significant harm to marine wildlife and this move will help reduce that impact.
‘‘Across Australia and New Zealand this move will see us remove 134 million straws from circulation each year,’’ she said.
Woolworths will also continue its plastic reduction program with fruit and vegetables which has seen the removal of 140 tonnes of plastic in the last year in Australia.
A further 80 produce items are earmarked for plastic reduction trials in the next 12 months.
With the removal of single-use plastic shopping bags from June 20, shoppers will be able to buy a Bag for Good for 99c.
Amanda said when the bag gets damaged it would be replaced for free.
‘‘No matter when you bought it from us,’’ she said. ‘‘We’ll then recycle your old bag via the REDCycle program.’’
Any money made from the sale of the Woolworths bag will fund the junior landcare grants program, encouraging young Australians to play an active role in ensuring the sustainable future of their environment.
Landcare Australia chief executive Dr Shane Norrish said the program would help younger Australians be more aware of environmental issues in their own backyard.
‘‘They will have the opportunity to have hands-on environmental education in the class and in the schoolyard, which will only help to better future generations,’’ Dr Norrish said.
‘‘We look forward to seeing applications from schools in the local area when the next grant round is launched in a couple of months’ time.’’