Backlash expected over Coles’ latest move
COLES has taken nearly two months to finally put a stop to handing out free plastic bags.
The supermarket giant has come under fire from shoppers and environmentalists after flip flopping on its stance since dumping single-use plastic bags on July 1.
Customers will have to start paying 15 cents for reusable plastic bags from tomorrow.
Extensive backlash by shoppers originally forced the supermarket to take urgent action to try and appease customers by giving them free bags to take their goods away in.
Coles said free bags would be available until August 1, but it then extended it until August 29 - the day after its Little Shop marketing campaign was initially scheduled to finish.
In a statement by a supermarket spokesman this week, Coles said it would finally stop handing out free bags and slug customers who don't bring their own bags.
"Coles has always maintained that complimentary bags were an interim measure to help customers make the transition to reusable bags," he said.
"If customers forget to bring their own bags Coles has a range of options available including the 15 cent better bag which is thicker and more durable than single use plastic bags and can be used multiple times."
Greenpeace campaigner Zoe Deans said she was relieved Coles had "finally decided to ban the bag for good."
"It's taken a long time to get here - several bag ban flip-flips that made us all question Coles' commitment to reducing plastic," she said.
"Despite taking over 60 days to implement its plastic bag ban, Coles have taken a good first step here and we look forward to seeing them reducing plastic in other areas like packaging and collectable toys for example."
Rival supermarket Woolworths has been charging customers 15 cents for reusable bags since July.
Director of environmental group Boomerang Alliance's Jeff Angel said Coles had finally arrived at where it should have been two months ago.
"Banning free plastic bags is the right thing to do," he said.
"It should now focus on further plastic reduction efforts rather than short term marketing strategies that harm the environment."
Coles annoyed environmentalists even more this month when it revealed it was extending its miniature collectables campaign - where customers can collect 30 miniature grocery items - indefinitely.
Despite an anxious rush by collectors to finish their sets, Coles has revealed on its website Little Shop will end on September 11 or while stocks last.
Many of these items are made from plastic.
The marketing campaign has been a win for Coles which is hoping to boost its sales ahead of the spin off from Wesfarmers later this year.