ibusinesslines.com August 20, 2018

'Bag rage' prompts backdown on plastic bag levy in Australia

04 August 2018, 09:08 | Justin Tyler

Coles has decided to continue giving away reusable plastic

A shopper is seen carrying a reusable plastic bag from Coles

Australian supermarket chain Coles has hoisted a white flag in the face of angry shoppers aggrieved by having to bring their own bags or pay 15c for a "reusable" one, and has promised to give plastic bags away for free indefinitely.

Most state governments in Australia have banned thin single-use bags, and the supermarket giant pledged to phase them out from 1 July.

They set a cut-off date when they claimed they would charge a 15 cent fee for each bag again, but Coles has confirmed they will now continue to offer these bags indefinitely.

"Some customers told us they needed more time to make the transition to reusable bags", a Coles spokesperson said.

Greenpeace criticised the decision as irresponsible and disappointing, saying that Coles is perpetuating the problem of plastic waste by providing free bags.

However, if reusable plastic bags reach the oceans and other habitats, they could cause as much if not more damage than single-use bags now do.

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.

"We've been delighted to see customers grow more accustomed to bringing their reusable bags from home so they are relying less on complimentary bags at the checkout", she said in a statement.

Coles will start charging for "reusable" plastic bags from August 30.

Now, I'm not advocating violence but what I would advocate is stop being a bunch of compliant saps and when somebody does something stupid, which this unquestionably is, go "it isn't good enough and I'm not going to stop with you until you change your policy".

According to News.com.au, Coles chief executive officer John Durkan sent an email to his 115,000 staff saying the free bag offer would be extended until August 29th.

"Removing the price means that these reusable bags are far more likely to be used once and discarded", Black said.

From July 1, Queensland and Western Australia joined South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory with state-wide bans.

Sally Edsall was also displeased.

The controversy around plastic bags comes as customers attacked Coles for giving away toy plastic replicas of some of its grocery products last week.

Coles continues to suffer a major backlash after back-pedalling on its plastic bag ban.

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