In the next chapter of Australia's plastic bag saga, Coles has paused its ban. Six days after the supermarket giant implemented its nationwide single-use plastic bag ban, it has announced it will be giving out free reusable plastic bags until the close of business on Sunday, July 8.
This brings the supermarket chain into line with Woolworths who, after implementing a nationwide ban on June 20, also reneged on the ban and announced it would be giving them out for free until July 8.
The reusable bags that are currently being given out for free would usually cost shoppers 15c in both Coles and Woolworths. They're thicker, more durable and are made from 80 percent recycled plastic — and were meant to encourage shoppers to bring them back, again and again, rather than buying a new one each time.
The temporary, complimentary bag offer for both supermarket giants is only valid in NSW, Vic, WA and Qld, as the other states and territories have already had single-use plastic bag bans in place for several years (SA leading the pack, introducing it back in 2009).
Both moves came after backlash to the bans on social media and in store, with reports of some shoppers becoming aggressive, others stealing plastic baskets instead of paying for reusable bags, and many accusing the chains of using the ban as a profit making scheme.
Both supermarkets are also offering cloth bag alternatives, with Woolworths' 99c Bag for Good, which the supermarket chain will replace for free if it gets damaged, and Coles' $1 Community Bags, which are designed by Australian school children and ten percent of sales are donated to charities. Both bags are designed to be used repeatedly.