Aussie supermarket chain Coles to provide free 'reusable' plastic bags indefinitely

Aussie supermarket chain Coles to provide free 'reusable' plastic bags indefinitely

Aussie supermarket chain Coles to provide free 'reusable' plastic bags indefinitely

The supermarket chain claimed shoppers were angry and needed more time to adjust to bringing their own bags, or paying 15c for the thicker, more durable plastic ones.

Thought the bag ban was a deal done in ink?

The supermarket giant on Wednesday chose to provide its thick, reusable plastic bags for free indefinitely, instead of charging 15 cents each as part of its program to get shoppers to switch from using single-use plastic bags.

A spokesperson for Coles says while customers were starting to embrace the change, some were still finding they were short of bags at the checkout and need more time to make the transition.

It planned to stop providing the reusable Better Bags for free Wednesday and start charging customers 15 Australian cents (11 cents) per bag, but has now reversed that decision and appears set to provide them indefinitely.

Today was supposed to be the cut-off date, but Coles confirmed it will continue to offer these bags - which normally cost 15 cents - for free.

Instead, they began offering more environmentally-friendly reusable bags for 15 Aus cents (11 U.S. cents) each, with Coles supplying them without charge until August 1 to help people adjust to the new regime.

At the end of June, rival supermarket Woolworths announced it would hand out free reusable bags to customers as well, but capped this on July 8.

On Wednesday Coles announced their decision to backflip on the initiative to ban plastic bags completely.

The move sparked a major backlash from environmental groups, social media users and even other retailers.

Speaking to the Herald Sun, director of environmental group Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel labelled it a "weak act".

Another, John Wren, said: "Dear @Coles, I will be shopping exclusively at @woolworths & @ALDIAustralia until you enforce your plastic-bags ban".

"They have a very limited life and the removal of the price signal also means they are more likely to be littered - something we warned about".

While consumers have similarly been infuriated.

"I'm calling this for what it is: high farce", he wrote.

"What a bunch of cowards you are @Coles you should be doubling down and not making any plastic bags available in your stores", Ben B tweeted. "What about the people who actually go and do the shopping and who have said to Coles, "No, we want our plastic bags". "That's why we continue to reward consumers who keep in mind to bring their own bags", said the Woolworths spokesperson.

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