Woolworths customers will find it more difficult to use single-use plastic bags as early as June 20.
The supermarket giant Woolworths Group announced it would push forward the date of phasing out the bags after it was announced in July last year it would end the use of single-use plastic shopping bags in all stores by the end of June this year.
Its supermarkets, BWS, Metro and Woolworths Petrol stores will no longer provide single-use plastic shopping bags nationally from June 20.
According to its website, Victorian Woolworths stores in Wyndham Vale, Taylors Lakes and Toorak already began phasing out the bags on April 4, while competitor Coles began its Victorian trial on April 30 at its Williamstown store.
Coles has stuck with the original date set for the ban, on July 1, to get rid of single-use plastic bags.
Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci said the group felt strongly the ban was the right thing to do.
‘‘Our teams have been working hard behind the scenes to accelerate the rollout of this plan so we can start making a positive impact on the environment as quickly as possible,’’ he said.
As of June 20, Woolworths will offer customers who do not bring their own bags thicker reusable plastic bags at 15¢ and canvas bags at 99¢.
Coles has also introduced a thicker plastic bag — the Better Bag — for 15¢ as well as its Community Bags range which will be available from June 5.
The range includes a shoulder bag, a chiller bag, a tote and a jute bag.
Both stores will offer the REDcycle program which began in Coles stores in 2011.
The program allows customers to bring their flexible and soft plastics, including fresh fruit and vegie bags, bread bags and cereal box liners, in-store to leave in specially marked bins to be recycled.
According to its website, Woolworths has also continued to trial the removal or reduction of plastic packaging in fruit and vegetables.
In recent months it has permanently removed plastic from produce lines such as organic spring onions, celery, kale and English spinach.
Planet Ark chief executive Paul Klymenko said single-use plastic bags had become a huge problem for Australia’s oceans and waterways, causing significant harm to turtles, whales and fish.
‘‘They also don’t break down in landfill and require significant resources to manufacture in the first place,’’ he said.