THE business community has been urged to prepare for the statewide ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags, which is due to commence from November.

The new law will apply to all
retailers and suppliers regardless of size or type – from supermarkets to fashion boutiques, from fast food outlets to petrol stations.

Victorians use more than one billion plastic shopping bags every year, and the majority of these bags end up in landfill. About 10 million end up as litter, polluting the environment and endangering wildlife.

The state government has engaged the National Retail Association to work with Victorian businesses in the lead up to November. The organisation will visit shopping precincts in Bendigo on Tuesday to provide advice for businesses preparing for the Victorian government’s plastic bag ban.

NRA policy manager David Stout said that it is vital that businesses understand their responsibilities.

“Retailers should start to make the transition as soon as possible to avoid last minute decisions that may be costly and inconvenient for both their business and their customers,” Mr Stout said.

“All businesses currently using plastic shopping bags face important business decisions over the next few months.

“For many businesses, giving a free plastic bag to every customer incurs substantial cost and current sentiment presents an opportunity to reconsider that habit.”

Mr Stout said there was a wide range of alternatives available, and each choice could either increase or reduce business costs, not to mention impact on consumer perception of their business.

“Retailers and suppliers who do not comply will face penalties, and risk disrupting their business and upsetting customers if they fail to prepare for the transition,” he said.

“Retail businesses have until November to use up their existing stocks of lightweight plastic shopping bags.”