ONLY one in five Australians disagree with the decision by Coles and Woolworths to ban single-use plastic bags, but more than half have stockpiled bags to use after the ban comes into effect.
The survey of 2200 shoppers by research firm Canstar Blue has found 71 per cent agree with the decision, 21 per cent disagree and 8 per cent were undecided. Despite their views, 45 per cent said taking their own bags will be a hassle, while 58 per cent said they had been saving bags to use in the future.
"Phasing out these single-use plastic bags is clearly the right thing to do for the environment, but it's going to take a lot of shoppers some time to adjust," said Canstar Blue editor Simon Downes.
"While the plastic bag ban is supported by most, the supermarkets can expect some frustrated customers in the weeks ahead. While Coles and Woolworths have been trying to get the message across, there will still be lots of shoppers turning up unprepared and shocked that they'll need to purchase one or more bags to carry their groceries home."
From July 1, single-use plastic bags will be banned in Queensland and Western Australia, bringing them into line with South Australia - the first state to ban the bag in 2009 - the ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania. Victoria will ban plastic bags, but is yet to announce a start date.
While NSW is standing firm, most major retailers have instituted a virtual nationwide ban, which kicks off 10 days early for Woolworths this Wednesday, June 20.
Woolworths will offer reusable bags including a 15-cent thick plastic bag, a 99-cent 'foldable bag' and a $2.49 'chiller bag' to keep your shopping cool. Coles will also offer 15-cent bags, as well as multi-use bags from $1.
The Canstar survey found 46 per cent of shoppers have already been in the habit of bringing their own reusable bags to the supermarket, while 51 per cent said checkout staff were partly to blame by not packing efficiently and giving them too many bags in the past.
"It seems that shoppers have generally fallen into three camps - those who already use their own bags and support the ban, those who don't already use their own bags but still support the ban, and those who don't already use their own bags and don't support the ban," said Mr Downes.
"There seems to be an air of resentment from some because, ultimately, going to the supermarket is now going to take a little more forward-planning. It will also cost you more if you don't take your own bags every time."
Women were more likely to support the ban than men, while shoppers aged 18-29 were the most supportive and those aged in their 40s least supportive.
Environmental campaigner Jon Dee from the DoSomething Foundation, who started the National Plastic Bag Campaign in 2002, said it was clear there had been a shift in community attitudes.
"You only have to look at social media to know there's really been an upswing in concern about the impact plastic bags are having on our oceans," he said. "Every day there seems to be a new video showing plastic bags in some poor whale, dolphin or turtle. People know they need to stop being concerned and start doing something practical."
Mr Dee said people's concern about the hassle of bringing reusable bags was misplaced. "As soon as the ban comes into place and people are confronted by the new reality, they very quickly get used to taking their own bags," he said.
"People are often also surprised by how quickly they can stop using plastic bin liners. I haven't used one for 25 years."
He said while a lot of people were stockpiling plastic bags to pick up dog poo, the simplest solution was to use the plastic bags that come with loaves of bread. "They're longer, stronger plastic and actually a lot more practical," he said.