Mike Hosking: Good on Coles for reversing ban on plastic bags

04 August, 2018, 09:07 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • The reusable bags were initially only supposed to be free for one week. Source 7 NewsMore

It drew a furious response, dubbed "bag rage", as customers angry about having to bring their own sacks or pay 15 Australian cents (11 US cents) for a reusable plastic bag abused checkout staff and vented on social media.

"We are extending our complimentary bag offer until Wednesday 29 August for our customers in QLD, NSW, VIC and WA", Durkan wrote, in an email seen by Junkee.

Woolworths, however, said its customers had no such issues.

"But we know that many customers are still finding themselves a bag or two short at the register and we want to do the right thing by them during this transition period".

It comes after the supermarket giant came under fire earlier this week for backing down on its plans to make customers pay for the thicker plastic bags, with one Woolworths employee reportedly assaulted by a customer angry at the changes.

The U.N. wants to eliminate single-use plastic by 2022 and says more than 60 countries have so far taken steps to ban or reduce plastic consumption.

Earlier today, a Coles spokesperson confirmed to Inside Retail that they believed customers needed more time to adjust to the change.

Coles has set a deadline for its extended free plastic bags handout, after bowing to customer pressure in backing down on reusable bags.

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"Our focus is on continuing to help all our customers form new and sustainable habits".

Coles has revealed another backflip on its decision to dump plastic bags, saying it will now offer reusable plastic bags for free indefinitely.

That decision has annoyed environmental groups, who warned the reusable bags are worse for the environment if they are discarded into waterways and habitats.

Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel told the Herald Sun the Coles' latest decision was a "weak act".

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

Another: "Absolutely disgraceful that with all the obvious and overwhelming evidence of plastic ruining every part of the environment.You can't even follow through with such a common sense request for the benefit of our planet".

Woolworths surveyed 12,500 customers in May about the phasing out of single-use bags and found that 75 per cent supported the move, 15 per cent did not support it, and 10 per cent were unsure about it.

Meanwhile, Woolworths has doubled down on its plastic bag ban, and will continue to sell the reusable plastic bags for 15 cents.

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