Despite Coles initial pledge to phase out the single-use plastic bags that take years to break down, they have since reversed their decision in order to appease a small vocal portion of angry customers.
The bags would have been gone by July 1, instead they will now be sticking around and Coles will be advocating the use of thicker reusable bags which previously cost 15 cents and will now be handed out for free. These ‘reusable’ bags are also made of plastic and consequently take longer to break down than the thin single-use bags Coles sought to ban.
In a statement made yesterday, Managing Director of Coles, John Durkan made an announcement explaining the reasoning behind their decision:
“At Coles we are absolutely committed to reducing our impact on the environment and making a positive contribution to the communities in which our customers and team members live and work.”
“One part of this commitment is removing single-use plastic bags from our stores. As you would have experienced first-hand in stores, this has been a big and difficult change for many of our customers.”
“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. Putting our customers first is in our DNA and we must always be empathetic and responsive to their needs.”
For the impactful change removing plastic bags would have been, Coles caving over customer complaints at this small inconvenience looks to be a weak move made by the supermarket chain.
Zoe Deans, an Australia Pacific campaigner at the non-governmental environmental organisation Greenpeace, predicted that this decision will not only cost the environment, it will also negatively affect Coles’ reputation and business.
“Coles have caved in far too quickly to a small but vocal minority and there is absolutely no doubt Coles will be punished for this decision by customers who don’t want to see plastic bags littering their beaches and killing marine life,” Deans comments.
“This decision makes a complete mockery of Coles’ claim to want to reduce plastic waste and is a betrayal of the millions of their customers who want the supermarket to do the right thing in favour of a vocal minority,” she continues.
“Removing the price means that these reusable bags are far more likely to be used once and discarded.”
The state of NSW is alone in its outrage over the transition to a more environmentally friendly change. According to ABC News, “Every state and territory except New South Wales has either outlawed single-use plastic bags, or has plans to ban them.”
While the rest of the country is embracing this much-needed change, it appears as though NSW will remain rigid in its outdated mentality.
Rival supermarket chain Woolworths may be the better option to shop for groceries as it has remained true to its commitment to make meaningful changes in reducing its impact on the environment.