CEO Dominique Lamb

How many great ideas can you think of that ended up having disastrously unforeseen consequences? Given this week’s plastic bag ban campaign launch in Queensland with the NRA’s campaign ambassador, Origin great Mal Meninga, the introduction of cane toads to gobble cane beetles munching on sugar cane crops seems like an appropriate example!

But single-use plastic shopping bags themselves are a perfect example of good intentions with dire consequences.

Introduced in the 1970s as a stronger alternative to paper bags (and that would help save the world’s rainforests, ironically), these and other plastics have arguably become one of the greatest environmental scourges of modern society.

In little more than 40 years, the world has reached a production quantity of around 5 trillion single-use plastic bags per year. Plastic pollution – including the toxic, damaging micro plastics – is now just part of life.

But these bags are only a fraction of total global disposable plastic production. A whooping 1580 kilograms enters the oceans as rubbish every hour! Without radical action, experts have predicted the quantity of plastics in the oceans will outnumber fish by the year 2050.  

A little closer to home, states and territories across Australia have one-by-one been taking action to ban single-use plastic bags.

While many have criticised these moves as not being tough enough, we believe they are an important first step toward changing consumer expectations and behaviour. A small change in habit for a big impact.

Queensland and Western Australia are the latest states to join the drive, and have been working with us to help prepare retailers for the July 1 implementation date.

Victoria has indicated it will follow suit at a date yet to be set, leaving only New South Wales to take a legislative approach.

In the words of Mal Meninga during our press conference in Brisbane on Monday with the Queensland Environment Minister Leanne Enoch, “NSW has really dropped the ball on this one!”

SDA No One Deserves a Serve campaign

We are also in full support of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) this week as it launches a new campaign asking consumers not to bag retail staff.

SDA research involving 6,000 retail and fast food workers last year found that more than 85% had experienced abuse from customers at work. This statistic prompted National Secretary Gerard Dwyer to remind retail staff about their rights, including not overloading bags at the customer’s request and not handling extremely dirty or unhygienic bags.

“Retail workers should not have to bear the brunt of any abusive behaviour, just for following the new rules,” Mr Dwyer said.

The SDA’s No One Deserves a Serve campaign kicks off shortly in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia. Just before Coles and Woolworths withdraw single-use plastic bags from all stores nation-wide from July 20 – whether there’s legislation or not.

If you would like any further information, about how to prevent customer abuse in your store or any information on how to train your employees to manage tough situations please do not hesitate to contact us at info@nra.net.au

As an industry I know we are all passionate about creating happy, healthy and productive workplaces, so if you would like to know more, we would love to assist, just call 1800 RETAIL.