Shop assistant 'grabbed by throat' as Aussie supermarkets' plastic bag ban sparks backlash

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Sources:

AAP | 1 NEWS | RNZ rnz.co.nz

Major Australian supermarkets are facing a customer backlash against a ban on single-use plastic bags that saw a customer in Western Australia reportedly grab a shop assistant by the throat at the weekend.

Most of us use a plastic bag for just twelve minutes, and then never again - but they take decades to decompose.

Source: 1 NEWS

The statewide ban in WA came into effect on Sunday, covering lightweight plastic bags.

Another customer called staff "money-grabbing scum" as the ban came in to reduce plastic waste polluting the oceans.

A backlash has led Woolworths to offer customers free reusable bags until July 8.

Western Australia's Environment Minister Stephen Dawson says the state's ban brings it into line with South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT.

"Studies have shown significant damage caused by plastic pollution - seabirds have been found with their digestive tracts filled with plastic fragments and turtles can confuse plastic bags with jellyfish," he said in a statement.

Coles, said it would open every checkout lane on Sunday to reduce queue lengths and put on extra staff to explain the change to customers.

Queensland's bag ban also started on Sunday.

The Victorian Government on Wednesday announced single-use plastic bags would be phased out over the next 18 months.

An Australian retail workers union surveyed 132 of its members and 57 reported suffering abuse over the ban.

"While we understand that some customers may be frustrated by this change, there is absolutely no excuse for abusive or violent behaviour towards retail staff," said Gerard Dwyer, national secretary of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association.

In New Zealand, Countdown started withdrawing single-use plastic bags from May, beginning with 10 of its stores, RNZ reports.

Foodstuffs says all New World, PAK'nSAVE and Four Square stores will be single-use plastic bag free at the checkout by the end of this year. 

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