View of grey plastic shopping bags. Picture: iStock
View of grey plastic shopping bags. Picture: iStock

‘Scam’: Coles customers fire up

ENRAGED Australian shoppers have taken to social media to condemn supermarket giant Coles' decision to ban single-use plastic bags from check-outs from today onwards.

The controversial new rules saw the traditional free plastic shopping bags vanish from stores once the clock ticked past midnight.

From now on, Coles shoppers around the country will need to bring their own reusable bags to transport their groceries, or fork out 15c for a range of reusable bags available for purchase at check-outs.

But while a Coles spokesman touted the ban as "the right thing to do for our environment" on Friday, many Aussies have since accused the corporation of using the ban as a money-making ploy.

Meanwhile, others have threatened to boycott the chain altogether in protest.

The growing backlash follows yesterday's announcement from SDA National, the union for workers in retail, fast food and warehousing, that a female Woolworths staff member was strangled and sworn at by a male customer who disagreed with the company's bag ban at Woolworths Greenfields at Mandurah, Western Australia late last month.

The union is calling for angry shoppers to treat retail staff with respect despite so-called "plastic bag rage".

However, when visited Coles Waterloo in inner Sydney early this morning, the scene was calm with a number of shoppers already armed with their own reusable bags.

One said it was "about time" single-use plastic bags were banned, while another added it was "a positive step" towards a more sustainable future.

And while many shoppers have criticised the ban, others have attacked Coles for not ditching bags sooner.

Many shoppers told via Twitter that they supported the ban, with one posting: "Reducing our carbon footprint is extremely important" while another added the ban was "very long overdue", and another stating: "Soon enough it will be the new normal."

Coles previously announced it would have extra staff on hand to man all check-outs until 6pm today in an effort to help customers cope with the change.

From Monday until July 8, additional check-outs will be open between 9am and 9pm in NSW and Victoria, and from 9am to 7pm in Queensland and Western Australia.

Both Coles and Woolworths committed to a June 30, 2018 deadline for removing single-use plastic bags last year, although Woolworths has temporarily delayed its ban following significant customer backlash.

Coles' controversial plastic bag ban is now in force. Picture: Supplied
Coles' controversial plastic bag ban is now in force. Picture: Supplied

The backflip will see free reusable plastic bags handed out to customers until July 8 after many customers refused to pay for new reusable ones altogether.

Both grocery heavyweights have also pledged to slash the amount of plastic used in packaging and wrapping, with Coles also vowing to halve food waste and make all its own-brand packaging recyclable by 2020.

Meanwhile, two of Australia's biggest retailers, Kmart and Target, have both refused to adopt the plastic bag ban despite other major chains following suit.

The discount department store chains, which are both owned by Wesfarmers, which also owns Coles, will instead keep single-use bags in stores until an unknown date in 2019.

Woolworths, and its liquor brand BWS, ditched the bags on June 20 while Coles, IGA and Woolworths-owned department store Big W all binned the bags today. contacted Coles for comment for this article, but a response has not been received.

- with AAP

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