Australian supermarket Coles gives in to customer pressure over plastic bags


The latest decision comes after the supermarket chain provoked the wrath of environmentalists by saying it would give bags away for free indefinitely while customers got used to bringing their own.

"Listen, this is common sense, it reestablishes competition and it says that the customer is always right".

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.

In a message to the retailer's 115,000 staff on Thursday, Mr Durkan said the ban on single-use plastic bags had been a "big and difficult" change for customers.

"We've found the majority of our customers across Australia have embraced the move to a more sustainable way of shopping", it said, adding that it would take 3.2 billion single-use bags out of circulation each year.

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On July 1 Coles began their single use bag ban, in stores in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia but after a major backlash they ended up handing out reusable bags for free.

Customers will continue to received 30 free Flybuys points at the checkout as a reward for remembering to bring their own bags.

Coles offered them through July and then yesterday announced an "indefinite" extension to the giveaway, which in turn sparked an additional backlash from recycling advocates who said the lack of value in the bags would effectively turn them into single use.

A mere 24 hours after announcing that it would continue to 0ffer free plastic bags to customers indefinitely, Coles has backflipped on this providing a cut-off date for the complimentary bags.

The decision has angered environmental groups who have long campaigned for single-use bags to be phased out.

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'They have a very limited life and the removal of the price also means they are more likely to be littered - something we warned about, ' he told the Herald Sun.

Both recently extended bans on single-use bags, replacing them with reusable bags costing 15 cents (£0.08; $0.11) each. "None", Steve said while calling her statistics "incorrect".

Despite Coles customers being notified on their receipts and also on checkout screens that free bags were coming to an end on August 1 a Coles spokeswoman confirmed otherwise.

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".

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