UPDATE, 2 AUGUST, 2018: After copping much backlash to its indefinite free-plastic bag offer, Coles has put a deadline on it — just 24 hours later. As reported by the SMHthe company sent an internal email to staff notifying them that the offer would end on August 29. While an official statement has not been made by the company, we can only hope it sticks to its guns this time.
In the next chapter of Australia's plastic bag saga, Coles has paused its ban again. And, this time, it'll be handing out free reusable bags indefinitely. The supermarket giant attempted to implement a nationwide single-use plastic bag ban on July 1, but announced just six days later that it would be giving them out for free for until July 8 (which was later extended to August 1).
The reusable bags that are being given out for free would usually cost shoppers 15c. 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 reason Coles has backflipped on its ban is because, supposedly, customers "need more time". A company spokesperson told the ABC, "Some customers told us they needed more time to make the transition." The spokesperson continued, "Many customers bringing bags from home are still finding themselves short a bag or two so we are offering complimentary reusable Better Bags to help them complete their shopping."
The complimentary bag offer 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).
The supermarket also offers a cloth bag alternative, its $1 Community Bags, which are designed by Australian school children and ten percent of sales are donated to charities. It's designed to be used repeatedly.