Australian Newsagency Blog

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Charging for a plastic bag with the newspaper?

Mark Fletcher
January 9th, 2014 · 26 Comments

I am contemplating introducing a 10c charge for a plastic bag for newspapers. While this would put me in the same league as Officeworks and Bunnings, I think it’s an important move. Shoppers who want to prove the purchased the item can instead get a receipt or a stamp on the paper.

I’d donate 100% of the money collected to a local environmental charity.


Category: Environment

26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Richard // Jan 9, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    We set up a 10c charge for plastis bags just on 12 monts ago.
    We donate all the funds to the local turtle hospital. We have a running total of the amount raise behind the counter so customers can see it, and place it on our face book page. we also charge it on all plastic bag not just for papers.

    I have had 2 customer complaints in 12 months.


  • 2 Chris // Jan 9, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    I think this is a great idea, particularly the donation to charity.

    As a customer I’d generally have no problem with paying for a plastic bag. I’m charged at most other retailers so I expect it to happen elsewhere. And if there was a little sign on the counter saying that the 10c contribution was going to a local charity that would be the cherry on the top for me.


  • 3 jeff // Jan 9, 2014 at 9:19 AM

    The other idea are brown paper biodegrable bags if you were still going to offer a bag free of charge…


  • 4 Mark Fletcher // Jan 9, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    We have those Jeff and this charge would still apply for newspapers.


  • 5 Brendan // Jan 9, 2014 at 10:40 AM

    We have a charity tin at the counter. I may simply place a sign on it that bags with newspaper only purchases require 10 cents placed in it. This way it’s transparent to the customer.
    It’s not just the pollution issue, bags with papers are an unnecessary cost for us.


  • 6 Jenny // Jan 9, 2014 at 11:37 AM

    What happened to all these Eco shopping bags we’ve been selling for yonks?
    The ones you carry in your handbag or pocket and pull out when you need it.
    I think plastic bags should be banned, a village near where I live banned plastic bags and bottled water years ago and it works because all the retailers support it.


  • 7 Jarryd Moore // Jan 9, 2014 at 12:24 PM

    Jenny, the Eco bags have been found in multiple studies to been ineffective.

    For the bag to be less damaging to the environment than plastic bags it must be reused a very large number of times. In reality people just continue to buy the bags – creating a wore environmental situation than the one that already existed.

    They are a profit making activity – nothing more.


  • 8 Jenny // Jan 9, 2014 at 12:39 PM

    No Jarryd I mean the reusable (thought you called them Eco) ones from different gift suppliers (H&H had a stand) and charities. We have sold so many as gifts over the years but I never see anyone using them.


  • 9 Hamish // Jan 9, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    We stopped offering plastic bags several years ago. Personally I feel they should have been banned nationally well before now. At the time Bunnings had changed their policy and Target announced they intended to do the same. Locally there was a strong campaign running as well. We were part of Newsxpress at the time and they were also actively offering reusable bags. The tide had changed.

    Knowing this, I came to the conclusion that regardless of business size, if I continue to supply plastic bags (knowing full well the consequence of their existence on our environment) I was part of the problem. You will not find a plastic bag from our business in a Park, at the beach or floating around the laneways of our city.

    It actually triggered an internal business review on our overall environmental impact.
    From this we changed the way we sorted and dealt with refuse, the bags we used, the lights globes we were using and invested in a large solar panel installation on the building along with many other smaller changes.
    The return achieved on the solar investment is astounding, the saving on power is significant (75+% drop) and our cost to package customer purchases has only marginally increased. Most people don’t want a bag and vocally support our policy, some don’t get it and probably never will, regardless their purchase is protected in various forms of brown paper when they leave our business free of charge.

    I urge you to consider how your business impacts the environment, prevention is better than a cure (or a 10 cent donation to fix a problem that just shouldn’t be there).


  • 10 Steve // Jan 9, 2014 at 3:24 PM

    I’m not sure of the environmental pluses of banning free plastic bags at check outs. A lot of these bags are reused as bins, dirty shoe carriers and what ever. The reports I’ve seen about the South Aust ban is that it led to a marked increase in the sale of plastic bin bags. The supermarkets must love it. Why give away a light duty bag when you can sell a heavy duty one. There all plastic and they all end up in the tip,the river,the park or whatever pristine environments are around.


  • 11 Jarryd Moore // Jan 9, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    Same concept Jenny – just a slightly different material. People don’t reuse reusable bags enough to make their impact on the environment less than what it would be if plastic bags were used.

    We both a supermarket and newsagency and I could count the number of people who use a reusable bag each day on one hand. It just not practical or convenient.


  • 12 Jarryd Moore // Jan 9, 2014 at 3:37 PM


    If plastic bags were banned nationally, what would they be replaced with? The customers from a newsagency might not use very many bags given the type of products we sell, but other types of stores rely on these bags.

    What would a supermarket use?

    There are biodegradable and recycled plastic bags that are much more environmentally friendly than the older style product.


  • 13 P // Jan 10, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    we can ban plastic bags but for an enviromental impact how many mags/papers etc do we throw away each week


  • 14 rick // Jan 10, 2014 at 3:07 PM

    we live in one of the wettest places in aust, (over 3 metres a year) paper bags just don’t keep the papers dry. besides greenies drive me mad 🙂


  • 15 June // Jan 10, 2014 at 4:18 PM

    No plastic bags is mandatory here in SA.
    We still get customers who want their paper in a bag so we comply with a magazine bag and when they ask for “one with a handle” we tell them we are not allowed to have plastic bags.
    We have sold hundreds of re-usable bags at 99c each but I think every SA person now has 40 plus of these in their car boot.

    We get frowned at in the supermarket if we don’t have our reusable bags with us (not by the supermarket but by other shoppers) so you go without your bags at your peril here.
    However, on the downside I like plastic bags for my rubbish at home (to keep the bin clean) and I have to buy them now so who is the winner – Coles/woolies of course – what used to cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars now costs us???


  • 16 Brendan // Jan 10, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    Jan, I was thinking the same thing last night as I disposed of copious amounts of de-covered magazines in a dump bin.


  • 17 Clive // Jan 10, 2014 at 10:49 PM

    It’s a case of user pays for us.

    If you are a paper only customer and want a bag then we just say no. We can roll it up for you in a rubber band otherwise it’s just too hard to explain to customers the cost etc and to be honest they don’t care or want a lecture.

    Then we have the dry cleaning customers who bring in their dirty laundry with no bag. Hmmm how do you think your kit is separated from the other persons kit. So we are happy to provide a bag for this as the margin at 40 percent is good and for these bags we get for free from our good customers who we ask to bring any spare Coles bags in. Dry cleaning customers get service.

    So it’s nuance. Depending on the transaction gets an appropriate response. But try explaining this to staff is a little harder.


  • 18 Mark Fletcher // Jan 11, 2014 at 4:18 AM

    I think we will see the Greens and others engage the wastage side of magazine supply this year. I’m aware of it being on their radar.


  • 19 Angelo // Jan 11, 2014 at 7:37 AM

    I stopped supplying plastic bags about three years ago with minimal issue. I get the occasional red neck who generally go into deep shock at the fact that I don’t have them and then wants to have a go at why. I like a bit of sport and they are such easy targets! I hate them (the bags that is) though like June I find them handy at home for some things. I dream of the day they are gone for good though I know it will never happen.
    We offer paper bags with magazine purchases as we have Woolies next to us and customers seem to want a bag as proof of the purchase from us rather than an actual need for the bag itself. I find that it is the older generation that wants a plastic bag. The younger ones generally don’t want any bag at all.
    I’m all for charging for plastic bags strongly support charging for them. Whilst I don’t agree with following supermarkets full stop I think that when it comes to charges like this it’s a good idea to join them.


  • 20 Richard // Jan 11, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    A little off topic but Clive raised the dry cleaning issue. Our Laundry supplies resusable bags that keep the customers coming back (if they remember to use the bag). However how to you handle the customer who throws the washing all over your counter. We will supply a bag and ask them to put the items in. Often get a “dirty” look.


  • 21 jenny // Jan 11, 2014 at 9:46 AM

    Glad I said NO to local dry cleaner who wanted an agent in our shopping centre.


  • 22 Carol // Jan 11, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    I think Mark may have been thinking cost wise rather than eviro wise. We still have plastic bags but very few customers ask for them anymore but today as the rain pours down most will want a bag. The Pharmacy next door stop using plastic bags a few years ago so we get customers of his who are walking come in and ask for bags. Their is also a certain group in our community who are under closer scrutiny than others who are afraid to leave or go into another shop without goods in a bag. The use has declined but there is still a place for Green Plastric Bags.


  • 23 Steve // Jan 11, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    Attacking magazine over supply on environmental grounds is probably the only thing which will scare the distributors into changing. If the greens took this up as an issue and forced meaningful change even I’d have to think about voting for them. I wouldn’t vote for them,but I’d think about it.


  • 24 Mark Fletcher // Jan 11, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Steve I know it’s on their radar. Whether they take it up depends on how the year pans out.


  • 25 Jarryd Moore // Jan 11, 2014 at 11:30 PM

    Magazine oversupply is both a small-business vs the big end of town issue as well as an environmental one. It fits nicely into The Greens policy wheelhouse and political image. It’s certainly not an issue the major two parties are likely to take on.

    If anyone wants to voice their concerns on mag oversupply The Greens spokesperson for small business is Peter Whish-Wilson. Contact details here –


  • 26 Jarryd Moore // Jan 11, 2014 at 11:47 PM

    There are also a number of independents both MPs and Senators who are small business friendly and environmentally conscious.

    Some estimate calculations on waste might also help if you anything like that Mark? A few thousand newsagents x the number of mags (or kilos of mags) disposed of each week x 52 weeks in a year = a very scary amount of wasted paper. Then add in the environmental impact of the transport of unnecessary product from the publisher, to the distributor, to the newsagents and back again … it’s not a pretty picture!


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