The National Retail Association has today endorsed a Queensland Government roadmap to further reduce single-use packaging over five years, saying both businesses and shoppers would appreciate a clear plan to move forward.

The Queensland Government has today committed to enshrining into law the voluntary shopping bag pact that the NRA has developed in conjunction with retailers around the country.

The move, from September 1 next year, will further reduce single-use plastic in the 75 per cent of businesses that were not affected by the 2018 ban on single-use plastic shopping bags.

Businesses will in the first instance need to consider if they really need to offer bags, and then consider reusable options such as those made from cloth, non-woven materials, or reusable plastic bags made from recycled content.

Any plastic bags will be required to meet a reusability standard and use 80 per cent recycled material, putting Queensland at the front of plastic recycling efforts globally.

Importantly, the pact also requires single-use options like paper shopping bags to be sustainably-sourced or made from recycled content.

NRA Chief Executive Officer Dominique Lamb said the new regulations would still accommodate shoppers who forget to bring their own bags, or make unplanned purchases, but limits the use of plastic bags to those who genuinely have no other option.

“Most retailers understand the need for these initiatives, and many have already moved well along this path,” Ms Lamb said.

“These changes will ensure that those who choose to do the right thing don’t suffer as a result, while lifting the standard for all businesses and shoppers.”

The government roadmap also sets out a plan for action on coffee cups and lids, plastic microbeads, expanded polystyrene packaging, and cotton buds with plastic stems.

The new rules will:

  • Require reusable bags to be available for reuse at least 100 times;
  • Require retailers to charge or offer a disincentive to take a plastic bag;
  • Set high sustainability standards for all shopping bags, not just plastic;
  • Allow retailers to provide reusable bags at a range of price points, reducing customer pressure to resort to single-use virgin paper bags;
  • Contribute to the National Packaging Targets by increasing recycled content and reusability;
  • Support and strengthen emerging markets for recycled content, especially in light of waste export bans; and
  • Provide a clear path for national businesses to invest in innovation with certainty.

“This recognises that there is no “one-size fits all” approach when it comes to shopping bags, and that retailers need to be free to choose the most sustainable approach that best suits them and their customers.

“We endorse this planned and well-reasoned approach, and we are confident Queensland businesses and consumers will take it in their stride, just as they have with previous reforms.”