Coles flips again on plastic bag ban, puts end date on freebies

Coles plastic bag ban backflip

But on Wednesday Coles said the change in habit had proven to be "big and difficult" for customers and it meant to hand out its thick, reusable plastic bags for free indefinitely.

"It's interesting because the ban on single-use bags came as a result of pressure from customers and people calling for companies to take responsibility and stop using plastic bags".

"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", Managing Director John Durkan wrote in a message to staff.

"Offering complimentary bags was always an interim measure to help our customers adjust their shopping habits and Coles will no longer be providing Better Bags free of charge from Wednesday 29 August", Coles said.

The double backflip comes after widespread calls to boycott Coles over its decision, and quite a few very angry tweets.

August 1 was supposed to be the cut-off date, but Coles said it would continue to offer these bags - which normally cost 15 cents - for free. Customers at Woolworths continue to pay A15c per reusable bag.

Environmental groups, including a vocal Greenpeace, and like-minded shoppers had heaped criticism on Coles for deciding to go back on its original plan to only temporarily provide reusable bags for free.

Coles said in a statement that when the ban on single-use plastic bags began, some customers said they needed more time to transition to reusable bags.

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.

But in the latest about face Coles has changed its tune yet again revealing they will continue to offer customers these bags - they are normally 15 cents each - for free.

"It's all a part of lifting their customer satisfaction and getting more customers in the door", said James Tao, a market analyst at stockbroker Commonwealth Securities in Sydney. "We also call on the board of Coles to reconsider this decision for the sake of our planet", co-CEO Angus Harris said. In a statement sent to news.com.au, a spokeswoman for Woolworths said the majority of the chain's customers had "embraced the move to a more sustainable way of shopping", and thanked shoppers for their patience and support.

Coles confirmed its second U-turn - the indefinite giveaway - on Wednesday.

Customers who bring their own bags are being rewarded with free Flybuys points.

Related news: