WHILE supermarket giant Woolworths is selling its plan to phase out single use plastic bags as an important step for the environment, it is also a significant commercial move.
No-one could be genuinely expected to believe that cold hard cash has not played a part in this decision.
In announcing the phase-out on Friday, Woolworths group CEO Brad Banducci said his company was currently giving away more than three billion plastic bags every year.
“Today’s commitment shows we are committed to taking our environmental and community responsibilities seriously,” Mr Banducci said.
“Whilst we know this is a major decision, we will work very closely with all of our store teams to ensure the transition for our customers is as simple as possible.”
However, not only are those three billion bags a potential disaster for the environment and local waterways, they are also a significant slug on the Woolworths bottom line.
It was only ever a matter of time until Woolworths’ biggest rival, Coles, announced a similar ban.
In the end, it took Coles just a few hours to respond.
That announcement eliminated any risk of Woolworths losing customers over the bag phase-out while also letting them take the moral high ground as the first to make the move.
The phase-out will bring the stores for both supermarket giants in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia in line with those in other states and territories where plastic bag bans have been legislated.
South Australia, ACT, the Northern Territory and Tasmania have already implemented state-wide bans.
There are plans in place for Queensland to do the same next year.
The supermarket giants’ next biggest rival, Aldi, has never given out plastic bags.
That fact has become a key part of its corporate identity.
It is a matter of pride for regular Aldi customers to drive around with a boot full of reusable shopping bags.
Such a sight is soon to become the norm rather than the exception.
Just as Aldi shoppers have learnt to come to the supermarket prepared, though, so too will Coles and Woolworths shoppers quickly adapt.
It’s a small price to pay.