Australian retailer Woolworths Group has introduced new measures to help reduce plastic waste and support greener future.

Woolworths bag

Image: Woolworths Supermarkets to offer a new green reusable shopping bag. Photo: courtesy of Woolworths Group Limited.

As part of its plans, the firm intends to ban the sale of plastic straws, reduce plastic packaging in fruit and vegetables, and launch new reusable shopping bag.

By the end of 2018, Woolworths will no longer sell plastic straws at all of its stores in Australia and New Zealand. The move is expected to save 134 million plastic straws from going into circulation annually.

Additionally, Woolworths Supermarkets intends to offer new green reusable shopping bag, with a lifetime replacement offer, to its customers. It plans to phase out single-use plastic shopping bags on June 20.

The firm, which has saved 140 tons of plastic in the fruit and vegetables packaging range in the last year, also plans to trial the removal of plastic packaging on a further 80 lines over the next year.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said: ““In the last year we have seen a shift towards more sustainable attitudes from our customers and the momentum is growing, with recent research showing a 15% increase in Australians now saying that taking care of the planet is important to them.

“While we’ve made progress in reducing the amount of plastic in our stores, supported recycling labeling initiatives, and made improvements in energy efficiency, sustainable sourcing and reducing food waste, we know that more needs to be done to meet our customers’ expectations.

“Today’s initiatives represent further small, but important steps in our commitment to make positive change happen.”

Earlier this year, Woolworths said that its BWS, Metro and Woolworths Petrol stores will stop providing single-use plastic shopping bags from 20 June 2018.

The move is supported by Australian environmental groups Planet Ark and Boomerang Alliance.