A ban on single-use plastic bags at the famous South Melbourne Market could eventually be extended to other products like straws and coffee cups, management says, as shoppers and traders embrace the new environmental stance.
From today, traders at the 150-year-old food and produce market will stop supplying single-use plastic shopping bags.
Marketgoers will instead have to bring their own or face buying or borrowing paper or reusable bags.
The BYO-bag campaign was launched after a market survey found nine out of 10 visitors supported the move.
Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworth have also announced plans to introduce company-wide bans by the middle of the year.
City of Port Phillip Mayor Bernadene Voss said the move had been a year in the making.
“When you consider we have 5 million people that visit this market every single year, to go plastic-bag free really makes a difference,” she said.
“That’s an amazing impact on our community, on our planet.”
Market manager Ian Sumpter said the ban was limited to plastic carry bags — for now.
Single-use or produce bags for wet items, such as meat, fish, fruit and vegetables will still be available.
Sid (left) said he had been bringing his own bags and trolley for decades. (ABC News: Zalika Rizmal)
But Mr Sumpter said the market would consider replacing these and other single-use plastics, including coffee cups and straws.
“That’s something we may focus on moving forward,” he said.
The Queen Victoria Market said plans were underway to introduce a similar ban there.
Forgetful shoppers can buy, borrow reusable bags
One unwitting shopper was caught out when she popped by the market to buy some groceries.
Franceska Garou said she did not know about the ban and wanted to buy more food, but was unable to carry it.
“Maybe it’s not convenient for me, but for the environment, yeah sure,” she said.
Joe Anile from Frank’s Quality Fruit and Veg said customers had been supportive. (ABC News: Zalika Rizmal)
Customers who are unaware of the policy or who forget their own bags can buy recyclable paper bags or multi-use bags.
They can also borrow a free fabric bag made by local volunteers.
Joe Anile from Frank’s Quality Fruit and Vegetables said he and his customers were satisfied with the change.
“I think it’s a no brainer for the most part. I’ve got one kid and I hope to have more, so I am happy that we’re doing it,” he said.
‘Everything we produce comes back to us’
Regular shopper Sid has been visiting the market for over 40 years and said the ban would force people to plan ahead by bringing their own bag, basket or trolley.
“We’ve been bringing our own bags for ages, so we’re pleased with the initiative of the market, I think a lot of people just waste them,” he said.
“This is actually our second trolley, we wore out the first one.”
Nassie Shirazi and her children Surena (left) and Roxana (right) were happy with the ban. (ABC News: Zalika Rizmal)
Nassie Shirazi and her children Surena and Roxana said it was a great move.
“It’s just less pollution, everything that we produce actually ends up in the seas, pollution in the water, in the fish, everything comes back to us,” Ms Shirazi said.
Roxana said the ban would save fish and other ocean animals, especially turtles.
“They get confused with the plastic bags, they think it’s a jellyfish and eat it,” Roxana said.
Last year the Victorian Government announced it would ban single-use plastic bags after a period of public consultation.
Single-use plastic bags are also set to be banned in Western Australia and Queensland from July 1 this year, while South Australia, the NT, ACT and Tasmania already have a bag ban in place.