Coles bag back-flip: Supermarket ends free reusable bags

Cristina Cross
August 4, 2018

The supermarket giant scrapped single-use bags in supermarkets around the country from July 1 which coincided with a statewide ban introduced in Queensland.

They also called on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the State Government to enforce a state-wide ban on single-use plastic bags, and urged Woolworths not to follow in Coles' footsteps.

After suggesting that shoppers are not ready to make the transition, the supermarket giant declared that they will continue to supply free, reusable plastic bags to their customers. "We ask all shoppers to let Coles know that this is not what shoppers want by saying NO to plastic at the checkout".

While customers had been growing more and more accustomed to bringing reusable bags, many were still finding themselves one or two short at the register.

Woolworths also offered customers free reusable bags until July 8.

"Working with their teams in the lead up to the campaign to replace single use bags, we were inspired by and supported Coles' nationwide desire to replace single use plastics".

Ms Deans said given Coles had previously reneged on its deadlines to stop giving away plastic bags, some may be skeptical about them sticking to the new one.

Plastic bags will be banned from Coles by the end of August, after public backlash.

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Coles' backdown infuriated environmental lobby group Greenpeace, which said the supermarket's decision was bad for the planet.

"I appreciate this transition phase is taking longer than anticipated but it is absolutely the right thing to do by our customers", Durkan wrote.

"So it's up to all of us to keep the pressure on and tell them we want to stick to their commitment to reduce plastic", she said.

Environmentalists have slammed Coles' decision, with Boomerang Alliance Director Jeff Angel labelling Coles' latest move a "weak act", reports The Herald Sun.

"These so-called reusable plastic bags are nearly as thin as the banned lightweight ones, " he said.

The backflip comes while Coles is under vast pressure to lure customers, as its sales growth lags Woolworths just as Wesfarmers prepares to spin it out and list it separately.

"Our focus is on continuing to help all our customers form new and sustainable habits", the statement said, adding that Woolworths would continue to reward customers who brought their own bags.

Both recently extended bans on single-use bags, replacing them with reusable bags costing 15 cents (£0.08; $0.11) each.

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