SEVERAL independent supermarkets have launched a campaign to reduce the number of plastic shopping bags their stores use each year in light of the proposed 25-cent plastic bag levy.
While the furore over the proposed levy has died down, there are rumours the charge could be imposed on all supermarkets in around six months’ time.
Called Shop Smart and based on an eastern States’ concept, the program has been launched in 28 Supa Valu and Dewsons stores in WA and aims to cut the plastic bag use from those stores by up to 20 per cent.
If the Shop Smart program proves successful it will be extended to 210 supermarkets throughout WA.
A year ago the Margaret River Dewsons ran a similar program to the one being rolled out through other FAL stores, which resulted in it reducing its plastic bag use by 20 per cent, or 250,000 bags, over 12 months.
It has received $20,000 from the WA Government towards this program. That funding has been matched by the 28 inde-pendent stores taking part.
Strategic Marketing and Research director Samantha Reece said FAL had seen trends away from plastic bag use developing in Ireland and the UK.
“They decided they didn’t want to pass the cost of any bag levy on to their customers,” she said.
As part of the program each store will have a large box that people can put their old plastic shopping bags into for recycling. FAL has hired Visy to collect those bags and recycle them into other plastic products.
The stores taking part in the promotion are also selling calico bags that shoppers can buy and use in place of plastic bags, and also are supplying boxes.
They also have in-store banners and signs encouraging customers to cut their plastic bag use. Customers will be given a running tally of how many plastic bags the store had used, compared with its usage in the previous year.
“The Denmark store sold 600 calico bags in the first week,” Ms Reece said.
“One of the stores in Lesmurdie got school kids to draw a design for the calico bags it was selling.”
Independent Grocers Association president and Dewsons supermarket operator John Cummings said there were marketing benefits in the program for shopkeepers.
“I think the only thing we’re doing is trying to be moderately responsible,” he said.
“We’re responding to what our customers want.”
Mr Cummings said a number of Dewsons stores had been selling calico bags for some time for shoppers to use as a substitute to plastic shopping bags.
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