MANAGING THE QLD BAG BAN > 5 KEY STEPS
3. Prepare your team
A critical element of managing the ban in your business is to train your team, particularly those who have regular contact with customers, such as checkout operators and customer service staff.
Depending on the alternatives you choose to offer, you may also need to consider changes to packing processes, point-of-sale areas and displays, as well as workplace health and safety issues such as packing weights and manual handling.
The NRA has prepared training kits to assist retailers in preparing their team to manage the ban. These kits include the information below as well as sample team talks and additional resources.
What should I tell my team?
Retail business owners and managers should brief their teams (if you haven’t already), especially those team members who interact with customers on a daily basis.
Explain the ban to your team so they can relay information to customers:
- The Queensland Government banned lightweight plastic shopping bags on 1 July 2018.
- This includes all lightweight singlet-style plastic bags as well as biodegradable ones.
- We are no longer able to supply these bags to customers and we will incur substantial fines if we do so.
- This ban applies to all businesses across Queensland.
- Only particular bags are banned. Barrier bags, thicker plastic bags, paper or cardboard bags and reusable woven bags are not banned.
Provide your team with a transition plan (if you haven’t already):
- You may still be weighing up which bags you will provide as alternatives, or whether you will supply bags at all, but you should let your team know when you plan to make this decision and when changes will occur.
- Set a date to stop ordering banned bags and inform those team members responsible for ordering.
- Set a date to stop supplying banned bags and inform all team members, especially those at point-of-sale.
- Provide your team with a clear schedule to transition away from banned bags.
What should we tell customers?
The earlier you inform customers of the ban, the better prepared they will be and the smoother the transition will be for your business.
From 1 July 2018:
- display prominent post-ban signage which explains the ban is now in force. Download sample signage >>
- ensure alternative bags are well-stocked, ticketed and clearly visible
- politely inform customers that you can no longer supply banned bags as fines apply
- manage customer objections and support your team. See sample FAQs >>
What processes will need to change?
Many businesses will have used lightweight plastic bags for many years and the change to alternative bags will mean changes to your business processes.
Once you have decided which alternative bags you will offer, you need to adjust ordering processes and budgets to suit. This may include changing suppliers and supply chain processes. Team members who normally order bags need to be informed of the changes and trained in ordering the alternatives.
If you will be selling alternative bags, you should assess what these bags cost and a pricepoint your customer would consider fair and reasonable.
If you will be selling alternative bags, you will need to select a prominent and appropriate position to display them. This may be at the entry as customers enter, or near the point-of-sale. These will need signage and/or ticketing similar to the rest of your product range. If you will be providing compliant bags free of charge as part of each sale, you will need to consider where these will be located behind your counter or similar. You may also want to consider whether these will be provided to every customer, regardless of basket size, or whether your team will start asking customers if they need a bag.
- Team scripts
If you will be selling alternative bags, team members will need to know what these cost, how to perform the transaction, and how to politely encourage customers to purchase them. Your team also need to know how to explain the bag ban and how to handle customer queries and objections. See Step 4 Informing your customer >>
- Packing areas & processes
Reusable bags are varying sizes and shapes, and business owners will need to consider the impact on packing processes, handling and the health & safety of your team.
How could this impact my team?
Many retail workplaces and related workplace health and safety processes have been designed for the lightweight plastic bag.
Lightweight plastic bags can carry about 6kg each which means that some workers lift up to 6 tonnes of goods per day. Given most are larger and stronger than the standard plastic bag, reusable bags could, unless carefully controlled, lead to greater weight per load and thereby a significant increase in the risk of injury and stress on workers.
You have a responsibility to protect the occupational health, safety and welfare of your staff. A study by the Shop Distributive & Allied Employees’ Association (SDA) surveyed 1,000 workers and managers and made several recommendations which you might include in your own policy.
- consider the weight and strength needs of your alternative bags to ensure they match your product range and typical basket
- review your checkout, counter space and packing areas to assess what can or should be changed to accommodate reusable bags
- consider designing flat or separate packing areas (such as the separate packing bench implemented at Aldi)
- consider using weight limiting or indicating devices
- introduce scanning guns where possible to allow distance scanning of large/heavy objects
- consider rotating duties for those who are exposed to long periods of packing
After reviewing the spaces and equipment used to handle reusable bags, you should consider implementing new procedures to give your team clear guidelines for handling the bags.
Everyone has different lifting capacities but you should devise guidelines so your team knows how much to fill a bag and what weight is reasonable for them or a customer to lift. You should also train your team in handling situations such as customers asking for a bag to be overfilled, customers asking for help lifting bags, and how to politely decline dirty or damaged bags. For more information go to Step 4 Informing the Customer >>
In addition, the bag ban may place employees under more stress, particularly if some customers react negatively to not being given a free bag or if you have chosen to not supply bags at all. It is your responsibility as an employer to ensure workplace stress is monitored and managed.
Please note: the advice provided on this website is designed to assist retailers in understanding the ban and weighing up options but is by no means exhaustive. Each retail business should assess and make decisions based on their own advice and situation.