Why is Kmart committed to eliminating ‘single-use plastic bags’?

Photo: Whaleoil

My partner ordered 4 rolls of contact adhesive from Kmart Queenstown to be delivered to our home in Oamaru. I was a bit surprised at the way it was packed.

Whaleoil reader

Kmart’s plastic packaging for four rolls of contact adhesive Photo: Whaleoil

This is where all the business virtue signalling falls down. They eliminate the useful plastic bags that were of use to their customers but keep the useful plastic packaging that they need to ship their products and to do all sorts of other useful tasks.

Why do they do this? Well, a close reading of Kmart’s frequently asked questions reveals that they do it because they were forced to do it by the government. They dutifully parrot the environmental platitudes fed to them, but if they really believed them they would be trying to reduce the use of plastic in other parts of their business voluntarily, wouldn’t they?

Kmart states on their New Zealand website,

We will remove single-use plastic shopping bags from all our stores by early 2019 […]

Frequently asked questions:

Why can?t I get a free plastic bag anymore?
The government has banned the supply of all lightweight plastic bags in New Zealand from 1st July, 2019. This ban applies to all retailers. The ban is designed to help protect the environment and wildlife by reducing the litter of and damage caused by single-use plastic bags.

Why do I have to pay for an alternate bag?
Due to the government?s ban, we encourage our customers to bring their own bags with them whenever they visit Kmart across New Zealand.[…]

Kmart NZ

We really can’t blame the retailers for trying to make lemonade out of lemons. If they do make money from selling plastic bags, that is only because the government forced them into that situation in the first place.

I don’t think that governments should have the power to interfere in private businesses like this at all unless it is for health and safety reasons. What will be next? If they can force companies to stop providing a useful free service and product like plastic bags then they can also stop them from serving their customers in other ways. No free gender-exclusive toys with your happy meal, no free gift if it is plastic, no free samples of anything that was made in a country that they disapprove of and so, on and on it goes.