Coles has revealed that it will continue to give away reusable plastic bags for free, indefinitely.
Coles officially banned single use bags across the country from July 1, but after significant backlash from some customers, it announced it would offer shoppers its 15c ‘slightly more durable’ bags for free, for a limited time only.
The free giveaway was meant to end on August 1, but according to News Corp, Coles will continue to provide customers with the reusable bags “indefinitely”.
According to Coles, some customers have found it difficult to get into the routine of bringing reusable bags into store and to know exactly how many they will need.
Coles wrote in a statement: “Since we removed single-use plastic bags from our stores, customers have told us that this has been a big change for them, so we want to do everything we can to help them.
“Coles Better Bag is made from 80 per cent recycled material and is bigger, thicker and more durable than single-use plastic bags. Better Bags can also be used multiple times and when customers have finished with the Better Bag, it can be recycled through REDcycle bins available at all Coles supermarkets.”
There have been reports that the plastic bag ban has cost the supermarkets as customers spend less in store.
Coles now says it will provide customers with “as much notice as possible” before bags are no longer given out for free.
Environmentalists have slammed the decision from Coles to keep giving out free plastic bags, claiming it’s counter-productive and a disaster for the environment, suggesting that the new reusable bags are not much better than the old single-use bags.
In addition, if shoppers are not being charged for the reusable bags, they will not remember to bring them and are less likely to dispose of them in a responsible way.
Woolworths was the first of the two major supermarket chains to ban single-use plastic bags on June 20. It offered reusable bags for free after receiving criticism from shoppers who would forget to bring in their own, but has now gone back to charging 15c for its reusable bags.
Before Coles and Woolworths banned single-use bags nationally, a Canstar Blue survey of more than 2,200 adults revealed that 71% agreed with the decision, while 21% disagreed and 8% were undecided.
Since publishing, Coles has announced the free handout will end on August 29.
— The Today Show (@TheTodayShow) July 31, 2018
Coles Little Shop plastic criticism
While some shoppers have jumped on the bandwagon of what seems to be the biggest collectable promotions Australian has ever seen – Coles Little Shop – others have slammed it as another major waste of plastic.
Environmental groups and some customers are disappointed by Coles’ decision to use additional plastic for the promotion. However, Coles said in response that the idea was for customers to “keep and collect them rather than throw them out”.
In addition, Coles said “when customers are at the supermarket they have a choice as to whether they would like to receive a mini collectable or not and customers are able to recycle the wrappers at their nearest store through our in-store REDCycle program”.