Australian supermarket, Coles, has recently announced that it will offer free reusable plastic bags to all its customers indefinitely. The announcement comes on the heels of its observation that the supermarket’s customers were facing issues getting accustomed to bringing their worn reusable bags.
A Coles spokesperson reportedly said that the supermarket has phased out single use plastic bags from 1 July in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and West Australia, and has confirmed on continuing the use of reusable plastic bags in its daily operations.
The spokesperson further stated that though customers embraced the positive change, many still faced shortage of bags at checkouts. The supermarket therefore had to step in and offer complimentary reusable bags to help customers complete their shopping.
However, rival supermarket Woolworths disagreed with this move to offer free reusable bags. Reportedly Woolworths is still committed towards the plastic bag ban and stated that its customers have no issue as far using single use plastic bags unlike what Coles states.
As per an official statement by a Woolworths spokesperson, a majority of their customers have incorporated the move towards sustainable ways of shopping and the supermarket appreciates its customers’ patience and support.
Harris Farm Markets, another rival to Coles, put in a plea to the NSW state government to reinforce single-use plastic bags ban. Angus Harris, co-CEO of Harris Farm Markets stated that they are disappointed with Coles’ decision to backflip on its plastic bag commitment and give out free reusable plastic bags.
Reportedly, environmental groups are also enraged with Coles’ decision. Jeff Angel, Executive Director at Boomerang Alliance rallied the move as a weak act. He added that the reusable plastic bags that Coles proposes to use is just a thicker version of the banned single use plastic bags.
For the record, in May Woolworth took a survey of 12,500 customers regarding the non-reusable plastic bag ban. According to the results almost 75% customers supported the use of reusable bags while less than 15% opposed it.
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