Coles to again stop handing out free plastic bags

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On July 1 Coles began their single use bag ban, in stores in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia but after a major backlash they ended up handing out reusable bags for free.

Despite Coles customers being notified on their receipts and also on checkout screens that free bags were coming to an end on August 1 a Coles spokeswoman confirmed otherwise.

"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".

According to News.com.au, Coles chief executive officer John Durkan sent an email to his 115,000 staff saying the free bag offer would be extended until August 29th.

Customers at Woolworths will continue to pay 15 cents for plastic bags.

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.

On Wednesday, the day the supermarket giant was due to start charging 15c for the bags, it was announced they would instead continue offering them for free because customers "needed more time to make the transition".

That decision has annoyed environmental groups, who warned the reusable bags are worse for the environment if they are discarded into waterways and habitats.

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Yesterday's decision - which essentially provided bags that used more plastic than the old single-use ones - was met with outrage from the public and environmental groups.

Greenpeace campaigner Simon Black said Coles' move was "incredibly disappointing" and "makes a complete mockery of their claims to want to reduce plastic waste".

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".

"Coles' colossal plastic bag fail" and "Coles caves" ran headlines on Australia's main news sites.

The backflip prompted rival Woolworths to reaffirm its commitment to banning single-use plastic bags, and another player, Harris Farm Markets, to plead with the NSW state Government to crack down.

"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".

"We know we use way too much fossil fuel in the creation of plastic, and we actually just need to ban it".

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