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Coles to phase out soft-plastic bags

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By Published On: May 10, 20231 Comment

Coles will halt the sale of soft-plastic carry bags in its stores and online nationwide by the end of June.

Starting this week, Coles is phasing out their trademark red polkadot soft-plastic carry bags. By the end of June, Coles will cease the sale of these 15 cent bags completely. This move is expected to remove 230 million plastic bags from circulation in one year.

Instead of a replacement, Coles will be utilising its existing range of carry bags instead. Sustainability comes at a cost of 10 cents extra as recycled paper bags are available to purchase in-store for 25-cents and can be recycled kerbside, and customers can also select from a range of reusable tote bags that retail for $1.00 and $2.50 for the large size, and the chiller bags for $2.50 each.

Its delivery and click & collect orders use soft-plastic shopping bags as their default, an area where Coles is trialling its “Swap-a-box” initiative, in which click & collect customers can use a reusable box in certain states. From next week, paper bags will be used for delivery orders and click & collect orders where customers also have a bag-free option and are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags to collection.

Coles Group Chief Operations and Sustainability Officer Matt Swindells says the decision to end the sale of soft-plastic carry bags nationwide, both in-store and online, was an important step in meeting the supermarket’s sustainability ambitions.

“Today’s decision to no longer offer soft-plastic bags at the checkout is proof of our commitment to reduce the amount of plastic used in our stores and online. This positive change will remove 230 million plastic bags from circulation in 1 year,” said Matt.

“The most sustainable option is to bring your own reusable bag to the supermarket, but for those who forget, we will continue to sell 100% recycled paper bags that can be recycled kerbside, as well as other reusable options,” he said.

“The 100% recycled paper bags have been tested for use and we’re confident they can hold up to 6 kilos of goods. That includes everything you need to make spaghetti Bolognese or a family roast,” Matt added.

Currently, in all states except WA, plastic bags over 35 microns thick are exempt from the Government’s ban on single use plastic bags as they are classified as reusable. Cole’s solution to the ban was the heavyweight soft-plastic bags that are now on their way out.

Up until November last year, Coles was partnered with REDcycle to recycle soft-plastics with collection points in its stores. However, the company collapsed due to its inability to afford to recycle the plastic. The company was caught out stockpiling over 3,000 tonnes of soft-plastic without disclosing to its clients in warehouses across the country. With no viable alternative option for soft-plastics collection and recycling, Coles took matters into their own hands by halting the sale of soft-plastic bags across all its stores.

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About the Author: Rosalea Catterson

Rosalea is the Editor of Power Retail. With a keen interest in consumer behaviour and tech, she covers everything ecommerce and hosts the Power Retail Power Talks Podcast.

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One Comment

  1. Susan June 11, 2023 at 12:28 AM - Reply

    Amazing initiative by Coles to reduce plastic bags that are soooo wasteful!

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