New limits on single-use plastic bags in Australia have met some resistance.
CNN  — 

Australia has joined a long list of countries taking action against single-use plastic bags with large retailers introducing a charge for reusable ones to encourage shoppers to bring their own.

There have been some signs of resistance: One customer reportedly grabbed a Woolworths employee by the throat after being told there were no plastic bags.

After multiple complaints, the supermarket chain announced it would hand out free reusable bags until July 8 to help smooth the transition.

Dozens of countries have already imposed bans or taxes on single-use plastic bags, including the UK, France, China, and the Netherlands. Kenya has perhaps the harshest law: those who violate the ban face four years in prison or a fine up to $39,000.

Many countries have targeted other products in the battle against plastic.

An estimated eight million tons of plastic enter our oceans and waterways every year. At this rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050.


Microbeads are tiny plastic particles often found in body washes, toothpaste and cosmetic products. They are not biodegradable and are nearly impossible to remove once they contaminate marine environments.

Microbeads are often found in body washes, facial scrubs, and toothpaste.

The Australian government endorsed a voluntary phase-out of microbeads in 2016, but there is no law or official ban in place and some manufacturers continue to use them.

In the last few years, a spate of countries have proposed or implemented microbead bans, including the US, the UK, France, New Zealand, and more.

Wales and Canada joined the list last weekend and Ireland is expected to introduce a ban by the end of 2018.

Plastic Straws

Plastic straws, long an enemy of environmentalists, are beginning to feel the heat.

Around 8.5 billion plastic straws are thrown away every year in the UK alone, according to the Marine Conservation Society.

The straws often wind up in the ocean and are are now among the top 10 waste items found on beaches.

Plastic straws are in the firing line in several countries.

In response, many major cities and states around the world have implemented plastic straw bans, including Taiwan, Seattle, and Vancouver. India is cracking down, with plastic bans that affect the sale of straws in at least 25 of 29 states.

In April, the UK proposed a campaign against plastic waste, which could ban plastic straws, drink stirrers, and cotton swabs. Public consultation will be held later this year.

The European Union also recently proposed a similar plastic ban, in which straws are among 10 targeted items that make up 70% of all litter in EU waters and beaches.

Coffee pods and cups

Coffee pods, made of a combination of plastic and aluminum, can be difficult to recycle.

Hamburg was the first city to ban coffee pods in 2016. Coffee company Nespresso also has a coffee pod recycling program in multiple countries, encouraging customers to drop off empty pods at collection points.

Coffee cups are also in trouble. Scotland banned single-use coffee cups in government buildings earlier this year and Wales may follow soon.

Starbucks and other coffee shops offer discounts if you bring your own cup.

Many coffee outlets, including Starbucks, offer discounts to customers who bring their own reusable cups or tumblers. In London, Starbucks has introduced a “latte levy“in numerous locations, charging customers a 5-pence (about 6 cents) fee for disposable cups.