Vinnies charity shops on the north coast will phase out single-use plastic bags from the start of new year as part of a new policy to protect the marine environment and minimise littering.
The eco-friendly policy will apply to all of the 27 Vinnies shops between Tweed Heads in the north and Laurieton in the south.
St Vincent de Paul Society’s north coast’s retail operations manager Kim Boyd said that from 1 January 2018, customers will be asked to either bring their own bags or buy one of the $3 Vinnies-branded cloth bags on sale in the shops, with proceeds used to help local people in need.
‘Discarded plastic bags are doing so much damage to our natural world, especially the marine environment of our beautiful northern coastline’, Ms Boyd said.
‘Vinnies is pleased to be in the forefront of the increasing push to end plastic bag use in retail outlets.’
North coast president of St Vincent de Paul Society, Yvonne Wynen, welcomed the move, saying Vinnies was deeply committed to the environment and sustainable practices.
‘Vinnies shops are based on the rescue and re-use of good quality clothing and household items that might otherwise have gone to landfill,’ Ms Wynen said.
‘Nor are clothing items of secondary quality wasted, as they are bundled together in our processing set-up in Goonellabah, the largest such facility in NSW, and exported to countries in Africa and to PNG where they’re sold in markets.
‘Lesser quality clothing is washed and then shredded into clean rags that are sold in 5kg or 10kg packs known as “Vinnies Bag O Rags”: these are very popular with painters, mechanics, car detailers and DIY home improvers.
‘Each year Vinnies recycles and reprocesses literally hundreds of tonnes of clothing and sundry goods that would otherwise be wasted. Along with helping the environment this earns precious funds that we use to assist people doing it tough in our region.
‘The move away from plastic bags reflects our commitment to being good environmental citizens of the North Coast’, Ms Wynen said.