CHANGING WAYS: New owners of Emerald Beach General Store Huey and Louis Riley are phasing out plastic bags and cigarettes.
CHANGING WAYS: New owners of Emerald Beach General Store Huey and Louis Riley are phasing out plastic bags and cigarettes. Trevor Veale

No bags, no fags: convenience shop defends environment

NEW Emerald Beach General Store owners Louis and Hugh Riley are moving out with the old and in with the new.

Since taking over the store on July 1, the brothers have been moving with the current and made it a priority to get rid of single-use plastic bags and cigarettes.

"We've still got a few bags and darts," Louis said, explaining it was the last of the store's stock.

Louis said he shared the idea of keeping the nostalgia of a convenience store with his older brother but adding a fresh spin to the classic.

Both Louis, 27, and Hugh, 29, come from a hospitality background and wanted to shape a healthier future for their hometown store.

Louis said he and his brother were inspired by Woolgoolga's Ground Earth cafe and Boomerang Bags in cutting down the use of single-use plastic bags and waste.

The brothers decided to stop stocking cigarettes to create a cafe atmosphere and promote their healthy values.

"There will be a lot more fresh food and less lollies," he said.

Louis said he also intended to restock classic lollies at a later date, further sweetening the shop's nostalgic flavour.

The Emerald Beach General Store will join major supermarkets IGA, Coles and Woolworths in phasing out single-use plastic bags.

Ian Ashcroft, IGA National Retailer Council chair, said stores across Australia would stop using single-use plastic bags by June 30, 2018.

"Many IGA retailers across Australia already have implemented this in store, along with a range of alternatives such as cardboard boxes, boomerang bags and reusable bags," Ian said.

Woolworths chief Brad Banducci told the Herald Sun the supermarket giant would axe free plastic bags within 12 months.

"We currently give out more than 3.2 billion lightweight plastic bags a year and hence can play a significant role in reducing overall plastic bag usage," he said.

Woolworths encourages customers to bring their own bags or pay 15c for heavier-duty reusable plastic bags.

Coles chief customer officer Simon McDowell said its announcement to phase out plastic bags followed months of consultation with non-government organisations and environmental groups.