CHOICE membership

Plastic packaging & plastic bags



It depends on the specifics of the biodegradability. Some “biodegradable” plastics break down, only under a limited range of conditions. Paper, for example breaks down quickly into innocuous products under most conditions. Petro-polymers are estimated to break down in anything from centuries to never.

The life-cycle cost of more durable plastics therefore potentially approaches infinity.


Yes and no.

Most recycled materials have a lower embodied resource component that its virgin cousins. One needs to consider the whole of life from cradle to grave rather than possibly the end manufactured packaging component.

The challenge with recycled materials is the quality of the material. If one places incorrect materials in the recycling stream, this causes contamination which significantly devalues the material. The material is devalued as either the contaminant needs to be removed (usually by manual means as technology to sort contamination from stream is in its infancy and unproven) or the materials can only be used for a lower end use (for example, plastic becomes bulk moulded items or any plastic materials rather than recycling into new PET bottles).

This is principally why China has stopped the inflow of recyclables from many countries, not because they don’t want the material, they don’t want the contaminants which degrade the value of the material and limit its potential reuse/reprocessing.

If everyone was possibly as obsessed as say as some Japanese towns in relation to recycling (some towns break the recycling streams into each plastic grade and have a dozen or more individual streams one must recycle to), then the Chinese would welcome the recycling streams from Australia and many other countries. Unfortunately while Australia has implemented reasonably successful recycling schemes, the quality of the receivables in these streams from the community has been relatively poor.

Many state government have also introduced waste levies to encourage the diversion of potentially recycled materials away from landfill. In effect, these waste levies subsidise or add value to the worth of the recycled materials, making recycling more attractive than disposal.

In relation to Redcycle, what can be recycled in these bins can be found here:

We collect and recycle our own soft plastic and drop it into the Redcycle bin at our local Woolworths. We also try and maximise the recycling opportunity by following the above ‘what to recycle’ and also remove any paper labelling from any soft plastic we recycle (such as a product label on a plastic bread bag). We ensure that anything which goes in the Redcycle bin is free of potential contaminants which results in the particular stream being rejected.

It is up to us as individuals to ensure that we participate in recycling schemes, and ensure that we don’t introduce contaminants which devalue the work of the community as a whole.


As the article indicated, it will be a synthesised bio-plastic based on an item created in nature and will be biodegradable.
It has no association with Petro-polymers


Just because a plastic may be non-petroleum based, it doen’t necessarily mean it is better for the environment. These may be of interest:

And even the ACCC has been on the prowl in relation to claims on non-petroleum plastic products:


As I understand it, existing “biodegradable” plastics are made from things like corn starch. I believe corn starch is “created in nature”.

There’s biodegradable, then there’s biodegradable. Plastics marketed as such generally biodegrade only under certain conditions. Here’s a report that I turned up with a quick Google search:


Just stumbled onto this gem in an article on today.

Got to hand it to Woollies for being leaders at this type of thing.

That’s why I pick Coles & Supa IGA.

Plastic packaging & plastic bags
Credit card surcharge not disclosed till final payment page

According to Woolworths, the BYO bag cost was a technical glitch. Still, something to keep an eye on.


Many people dislike George Monbiot. Sometimes, he hits the nail squarely on the head.

“The problem is not just plastic. The problem is mass disposability. Or, to put it another way, the problem is pursuing, on the one planet known to harbour life, a four-planet lifestyle. Regardless of what we consume, the sheer volume of consumption is overwhelming the Earth’s living systems.”

" some people asked me, “so what should we use instead?”. The right question is “how should we live?”. But systemic thinking is an endangered species."

“The problems we face are structural: a political system captured by commercial interests and an economic system that seeks endless growth.”

“Even marine plastics is in large part a fishing issue. It turns out that 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, that has come to symbolise our throwaway society, is composed of discarded nets, and much of the rest consists of other kinds of fishing gear.”

“The answer to the question “how should we live?” is “simply”. But living simply is highly complicated.”

“The ideology of consumption is so prevalent that it has become invisible: it is the plastic soup in which we swim.”

“One-planet living means not only seeking to reduce our own consumption, but also mobilising against the system that promotes the great tide of junk. This means fighting corporate power, changing political outcomes and challenging the growth-based, world-consuming system we call capitalism.”


I rarely use plakky bags, only when my disorganised self gets caught out, and even then a few times I’ve trolley’d a load of shopping to the car and packed it across the rear seats and the boot. Can’t remember the last time I did either - reusable hessian or fabric, for vegies as well, lightweight recycled curtains or sheets - they are so easy to make and work well and if I can remember to take them I don’t think anyone has an excuse !! :slight_smile:

When said vegies arrive home - these bags do the job famously ! not cheap, but I’d have to agree they work better than plastic. I have no connection with them other than being a customer.

Fabric impregnated with bees wax also makes a very effective replacement for cling wrap.

‘We’ won’t move on - I think we’re already stuffed - we might delay it a bit …


Just take the esky in and a couple of stackable plastic tubs, the ones with clip on lids if you like. So much easier to stack in the car and all else stays cold if you take an ice brick or two.

Not to worry they will not fit on the bag carousel. That’s Woolies and Coles problem, for not using enough brain power in their solutions. No problem at Aldi or Bunnings though.


Bunnings have a good range of “pre-veggies” but not much in the way of ready to eat!! :rofl:


We are possibly lucky that we don’t live in Europe as the cost to use the retailer’s one use plastic bags is significantly more expensive than the $0.15 charged by Woolworths and Coles for ‘multiuse’ (or thicker single use) bags.

In France, the cost per single use bags were about AUD0.25
In Switzerland, the cost per single use bags were about AUD0.29
In Hungary, the cost was around AUD0.22

What surprised me is even though the cost for the bags is significantly more than that in Australia, it did not seem wide and common practice for the the locals to shop with reusable bags. Many grabbed a plastic bag when at the checkout.

For the record, we took our own light weight nylon reusable shopping bags with us and used these when shopping. Many retailers thanked us for taking our own bags which was (self) gratifying.


If Coles and Woollies did not have their reusable bags printed with their business names, logos and/or corporate colours, then I would expect that they would cost significantly less.

They would probably be no more than the 10 cents that other shops are charging for plain reusable plastic bags.

However, Coles and Woollies are obviously happy to have their customers subsidise their corporate advertising.


The ones seen in Europe were predominately plain white bags (with no trademarks or logos).


Putting their logos etc on the bags allows them to use their advertising budget to subsidise the cost. This marketing cost then becomes a tax deduction against their profits in a similar way to their petrol discounts are used. The actual cost may be marginally higher than plain, the amount purchased would certainly lead to bulk purchase cost reductions even with the printing of logos and similar.



Whilst visiting my pain management specialist this week, I had a couple of cups of water from the dispenser.

Each time, 2 plastic cups came out of the storage tube and there is no means of putting the extra cup back.

At the radiology place we use, the same thing occurs and people place the extra ones on top of the dispenser but most people would not use them as they do not know if they have been used or who has handled them.

This also occurs at our GP’s surgery.

When we were young and used to travel from Cairns to Townsville on the Sunlander train to visit our grandparents at Xmas, the water dispenser in each carriage had a cup dispenser next to it, and the cups were made from paper.

Likewise, back then, the Cairns Base Hospital also provided paper cups next to the water dispenser.

Why are these single use plastic cups not being banned like the plastic straws are and the single use plastic shopping bags have already been?

Perhaps this is something that Choice could run with.


Taking and single using plastic cups creates a demand for them, so they are provided as there is a need.

If everyone took their own reusable water bottlee, the single use plastic cups would eventually disappear.


I am not sure if we are on the same wavelength.

What I would like to see is the single use plastic cups replaced with single use paper cups as existed before the plastic ones replaced them, just as is happening with straws.

It is not convenient for everyone to carry a water bottle whilst out and about, and the water coolers do offer cold as well as room temperature water


After almost 4 months since single use plastic shopping bags were banned in Qld, I have not seen much difference in shoppers’ behaviours.

I regularly see shoppers with their trolleys full on the reusable plastic bags so the 10 or 15 cents cost has not deterred a great many.

Our nearest Supa IGA is located in a relatively low socio-economic area but a great many shoppers, including Indigenous and elderly persons, seem unperturbed with paying for these bags.

Others have adapted to bringing their hessian and similar reusable bags into the stores or transferring their purchases into these bags when they return to their vehicles.

One thing that I have not seen is any person enter a store with any of the reusable plastic bags, so it would appear that they are using them to place rubbish in, or disposing of them empty, into their wheelie bins.

Whilst these reusable plastic bags may not be ending up along the roadways and elsewhere, it seems that they are still being thrown away, and there may be little, if any, reduction in the amount of plastic being dumped.