The move away from plastic bags became abusive and even violent in Australia over the past couple of weeks, Reuters reports. With retailers in most Australian states facing a fine for offering single-use plastic bags as of July 1, major supermarket chains like Woolworths and Coles began the transition early—and ran into a shocking dose of "bag rage." In one case, a male customer put his hands around a female worker's throat: "A male customer in the self-serve area swore loudly at a female worker," a union official tells the West Australian about a Woolworths incident. "She provided him with some complimentary bags and apologized. He made a mistake by scanning an item twice, the worker came to help him remove it and he walked up behind her and put his hands around her throat."
The union surveyed 100 Woolworths staff this week and heard dozens of customer-abuse stories as workers began selling reusable plastic bags for the equivalent of 11 US cents each. "I'm being told that I’m money-grabbing scum," said one surveyed worker. Another recalled a customer's complaint that the store was enacting the ban "before the date. He also told me he will never buy a ... bag from us. Another customer left all their shopping, told us we are useless, and walked out." Most customers were amenable to the shift, however, and Woolworths is now offering reusable bags free until July 8 to ease tensions. The world's oceans are clogged with over 8 million tons of plastic annually, Reuters notes, and the UN plans to remove all single-use plastic by 2022. (Read more plastic bags stories.)