Australian supermarket chain reverses free plastic bag ban

Australian supermarket chain reverses free plastic bag ban

Coles has announced a major backflip on the plastic bag ban, angering environmentalists.

Coles offered them through July and then yesterday announced an "indefinite" extension to the giveaway, which in turn sparked an additional backlash from recycling advocates who said the lack of value in the bags would effectively turn them into single use.

The supermarket was criticised by shoppers and environmental groups following Wednesday's announcement.

John Carey has slammed Coles' move to give away reusable plastic bags for free, calling it "high farce".

Earlier today, a Coles spokesperson confirmed to Inside Retail that they believed customers needed more time to adjust to the change.

Single-use bags are now banned in Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and Northern Territory. Should Coles stick to their original plan and charge for their reusable bags?

Environmental lobby group Greenpeace said Coles' decision was bad for the planet.

The retail boss sent an all-staff email empathising with his team that the change from single-use plastic bags "has been a big and hard change for many of our customers".

Director of environmental group Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel said the reusable plastic bags were nearly as bad for the environment as the old single use.

After thousands of people vowed to boycott Coles, the supermarket has backed down.

That is because they take longer to break down.

Ms Deans said given Coles had previously reneged on its deadlines to stop giving away plastic bags, some may be skeptical about them sticking to the new one.

But Mr Angel said there should be a law that only allows bags that can be reused hundreds of times to be implemented.

EARLIER: THOUGHT the plastic bag debacle was over?

'While there is consumer frustration during this period of transition, this backflip flies in the face of their initial claim to be committed to reducing plastics in the environment, ' he said.

"This is happening all over the world and Australia needs to step up the game".

Harris Farm Markets co-CEO Angus Harris called on the state government to enforce a ban on single-use plastic bags.

"Working with their teams in the lead up to the campaign to replace single use bags, we were inspired by and supported Coles' nationwide desire to replace single use plastics".

Sally Edsall was also displeased.

Waste Management Association of Australia said this inconsistency is risky.

"The key for us, where we produce 64 million tonnes of waste annually, is to work out ways to avoid the creation of waste and this kind of flip-flopping gets really confusing for the public and it gets really confusing for industry".

"They're back. The bags are back", Steve said with a smirk while waving a plastic bag in his hand on last night's episode of The Project. "It just came out of the blue".