'Making a Difference Together'

Making a Difference Together……

As of 2009; we have delivered over 800,000 high quality, resuable shopping bags to Australian consumers, enabling the end users to reduce their consumption of plastic bags by 665,600,000 (665 million). (as of 01/01/2009)

Understanding the Formula:


                 The total number of E string re-usable bags sold


                        The average bag life cycle per re-usable bag


       The number of plastic bags each E string Bag replaces each year  

                     = The total number in the reduction of plastic bags


Assumptions are based on:


1)The total number of E string re-usable bags sold

2)The average bag life cycle per re-usable bag - 4 Years

3)The estimated number of plastic bags each E string reusable bag replaces each year; based on 208 per year. (4 per week).

Fast Facts - Consumption Statistics
Fast Facts - Environmental Impact
Fast Facts - International
Fast Facts - Solutions Did you know?

Consumption Statistics

  • Globally each year, an estimated 500 billion* to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide that ultimately end up as waste in landfills (over one million per minute). Plastic bags can take between 15 to 1000 years to break down in the environment.

  • According to Australia’s Department of Environment, Australians consume 6.91 billion plastic bags each year—326 per person. Estimates indicate that each year 50 to 80 million plastic shopping bags end up as wind blown litter around Australia. · If 80 million plastic bags were made into a single plastic sheet, it would cover 16 square kilometres. Each side of the plastic sheet would be 4km long and it would be big enough to cover an area the size of Melbourne’s CBD every year.

  • Up to 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish and other wildlife each year1 die globally from entanglement in, or ingestion of, plastics. Download this brochure:  Keep the sea plastic free - Bin it (bin-it.pdf - 179 KB) ( Brochure courtesy of Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage) 

    It is estimated that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in each square mile of our oceans1.

    This brochure is available as a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to view the PDF file.
  • Australians are using more than 1.3 million tonnes of plastic every year. At current rates of waste disposal, it is expected that NSW will reach its present landfill capacity by 20103 · Australians dump 4000 recyclable plastic bags into landfills every minute or 230,000 every hour.

  • It takes 36,850 tonnes of plastic to produce 6.9 billion plastics bags. · Every year 4 million New Zealanders use 1 billion plastic shopping bags and 20 million Australians use approximately 5.6 billion.

  • The 6.9 billion plastic check-out bags we use every year is enough to drive a car 800 million kilometres or nearly 20,000 times around the world. · Not all litter is deliberate. 47% of wind borne litter escaping from landfills is plastic – much of this is plastic bags.

  • Over 40,000 plastic check-out bags are dumped in landfills every hour in New Zealand and 200,000 p/hr in Australia

  • Six million tonnes of debris enters the world's oceans every year1.

  • More than half the debris in Australia's seas comes from land – and up to 80 per cent around our cities1

Environmental Impact

  • Plastic bags are a by-product of the oil industry. 5 billion HDPE plastic bags are imported into New Zealand and Australia every year.

  • Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photo-degrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and oceans and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest. See United Nations Environment Programme (Safe Source Document)

"The Worlds Largest Landfill is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean" it will shock you.

  • According to David Barnes, a marine scientist with the British Antarctic Survey, plastic bags have gone "from being rare in the late 80s and early 90s to being almost everywhere from Spitsbergen 78° North [latitude] to Falklands 51° South [latitude], and he believes they'll be washing up in Antarctica within the decade." · Lethal legacy. A study of albatross chicks on Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean found 90% had plastic in their throats. When the animal dies and decays the plastic is then free to be re-digested by other wildlife – and so the cycle begins.1

  • Turtles frequently eat plastic bags, confusing them with jellyfish, their common prey. Sea birds eat polystyrene balls and plastic buoys, confusing them with fish eggs and crustaceans, and the Humpback, Southern Right and Blue Whales eat a range of plastic debris.
  • Plastic is a particular danger to 20 Australian threatened species, listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. Harmful marine debris is listed under the act as a Key Threatening Process.

  • Endangered species: Loggerhead Turtle, Southern Right Whale, Blue Whale, Tristan Albatross, Northern Royal Albatross, Gould's Petrel.

  • Vulnerable species: Leatherback Turtle, Hawksbill Turtle, Flatback Turtle, Green Turtle, Wandering Albatross, Humpback Whale, Antipodean Albatross, and Gibson's Albatross, Southern Royal Albatross, Indian Yellow-nosed Albatross, Grey Nurse Shark, Grey-headed Albatross, Blue Petrel, Northern Giant Petrel.

  • Of all the marine debris washed, dumped or blown into the ocean, more than 70 per cent is plastic2 · In August 2000, an 8 metre Brydes (pronounced broodas) whale was stranded close to central Cairns in north Queensland. It died soon after. An autopsy found that the whale’s stomach was tightly packed with plastic – almost 6 square metres of it! The whale had swallowed supermarket bags, food packaging and other large plastic objects.
    View Poster: A Gutful of Plastic Poster (poster.pdf - 846 KB)

  • · On land, plastic bag litter can block drains and trap birds. They also kill livestock. One farmer near Mudgee NSW, carried out an autopsy on a dead calf and found 8 plastic bags in its stomach.

  • A person’s use of a plastic check-out bag can be counted in minutes – however long it takes to get from the shops to their homes. Plastic bags however, can take between 15 to 1000 years to break down in the environment.

  • Worldwide, at least 143 marine species are known to have become entangled in marine debris (including almost all of the world's sea turtles) and at least 177 marine species (including most sea birds) to have eaten plastics and other litter1.
  • In South Australia alone, marine debris is believed responsible for the deaths of about 370 sea lions and fur seals each year1.

  • Around Kangaroo Island, Australian sea lions and fur seals get entangled at a rate that is the third and fourth highest for any seal species globally


  • In 2001, Ireland consumed 1.2 billion plastic bags, or 316 per person. An extremely successful plastic bag consumption tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%. Approximately 18,000,000 (million) litres of oil have been saved due to this reduced production. Governments around the world are considering implementing similar measures.
  • Windblown plastic bags are so prevalent in Africa that a cottage industry has sprung up harvesting bags and using them to weave hats, and even bags. According to the BBC, one group harvests 30,000 per month.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion) 
  • Every year, about 17 billion bags are picked up by consumers from the UK's stores, only to be thrown away
  • In the U.S.A alone, an estimated 12 million barrels of oil are required to produce the 100 billion plastic bags used annually.
  • The city of San Francisco alone estimates it spends $8.5 million each year on clean up and disposal of plastic bags.
  • In Bangladesh, plastic bags have been banned completely since early 2002. They were found to have been the main culprit in blocking drains during the 1988 and 1998 floods that submerged two-thirds of the country.


    Federal Environment Minister's Letter
    View the letter distributed by the Australia Government Environment Minister, Senator Ian Campbell, to hundreds of thousands of retailers across the country. This letter details the Government's desire to get small retailers to take action on the plastic bag issue and lists the resources available to help them.
  • Governments are currently working in conjunction with retailers to phase-out single-use plastic bags by the end of 2008.
  • The Australian Government has been considering a levy on lightweight plastic HDPE bags similar to that in Republic of Ireland, with a levy of AUS $0.25 on each bag. A two-year deferral was agreed until the end of 2004 to see if voluntary reuse and charging schemes would be successful enough to reduce plastic bag consumption by 25% by the end of 2004 and then by 50% by the end of 2005.
  • From 2008, large Victorian retailers will be banned from offering free lightweight plastic bags and will charge a minimum of 10c a bag.
  • Australia, NSW Shoppers may soon have to pay 20c for each plastic shopping bag they use at supermarkets. The NSW State Government is considering imposing a plastic bag levy following similar moves made by the Victorian Government in recent months (07/06).
  • In April 2003 Coles Bay in Tasmania successfully banned plastic check-out bags in all their retail stores. In the first twelve months, Coles Bay stopped the use of 350,000 plastic check-out bags.
  • Retail giants, Bunnings and Ikea, have already started charging customers for plastic bags to discourage their use, and many other chains are set to follow suit.

Make a start today

Refuse (just say No)

  • If you're only buying a couple of items, consider carrying them
  • When shopping, take alternatives to plastic bags with you such as, string bags, calico bags, baskets or boxes. Keep them in your pocket or in the car so they're nice and handy.


  • If you have no other option than to accept plastic bags at the checkout, make sure at least eight items are placed in each bag - depending of course on their weight.


  • Find a local supermarket, which offers recycling facilities for plastic supermarket bags, such as Coles or Woolworths. Take your old plastic supermarket bags back for recycling the next time you go shopping. If you can't find the recycling bin, suggest to the store manager that it's put in a more prominent place. If you can't find the recycling bin, or the store doesn't have recycling facilities, ask the store manager about their recycling policy.
  • Be careful to check which plastic bags are accepted at the recycling bins - it is only possible to recycle HDPE supermarket plastic bags, not the heavier bags used by other retailers (LDPE).


There are many ways you can reuse the plastic bags you may have accumulated at home, just use your imagination. Importantly, don't forget to tie a knot in any empty bags you dispose of to stop them ballooning away.


In order to change our ways, we need to:

  • remember to take your alternative bags shopping;
  • remember to store them in your coat pocket and car every time you have finished with them; and
  • remember to help spread the word : "Just Say NO to Plastic Bags"

The real cost of those free plastic shopping bag

  • Plastic bags are not free to consumers – they are actually adding an estimated NZ$25 million and A$173 million a year to New Zealand and Australia’s grocery bills.
  • A person’s use of a plastic check-out bag can be counted in minutes – however long it takes to get from the shops to their homes. Plastic bags however, can take between 15 to 1000 years to break down in the environment.


  1. http://www.deh.gov.au/settlements/publications/waste/plastic-bags/analysis.html
  2. http://www.gpa.unep.org/bin/php/home/index.php
  3. http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/www/html/1517-home-page.asp
  4. http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au 
  5. http://www.wastewise.wa.gov.au
  6. http://www.deh.gov.au/minister/env/2005/mr10nov05.html

Site References

a. Faris, Jeannie; Hart, Kathy; Seas of Debris: A summary of the Third International Cinference on Marine Debris; N.C. Sea Grant College program, 5

b. United Nationas Environment Programme, GPA Coordination Office, Marine Litter- trash that kills,

c. Environment Australia, *(Nolan ITU, 2002) http://www.deh.gov.au/industry/waste/plastic-bags/bags-analysis.html