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Plastic bag backflip, on backflip: Coles changes reusable bag policy

Warren Moore

Coles appears to have done a backflip on its backflip, announcing they will start charging 15 cents for reusable bags later this month.

After earlier indications that the supermarket giant would distribute the bags for free indefinitely to help customers adjust to the anti-plastic clampdown, an end date on the scheme has now been set.

Judith Sloan says the entire plastic bag ban saga is a profitable form of corporate virtue signalling and moralising gone wrong.

“I think it has been a commercial disaster,”  she says.

“It’s quite an interesting example of what you might call the tyranny of the minorities.”

“Basically, you get a small group of activists who campaign for the elimination of single-use bags, even though we know people reuse them. Then the managers wind up caving in to that pressure.”

The lack of evidence around the environmental benefits of the ban looks to be a reason for consumer dissatisfaction.

A study by Germany’s Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research identified the 10 “problem rivers” that disseminate the most waste into global ocean waters. Australia didn’t make the list. Meanwhile, another study suggested China was responsible for 1.32 to 3.52 million tonnes of  ocean plastic. Australia accounted for just 0.01 tonnes.

“The vast majority of plastic in the ocean is caused by river systems in Africa and Asia. It has nothing to do with us,” says Sloan.

“So it is just so appallingly patronising. The hypocrisy of it all, there is plastic wrapping everywhere.”

“Supermarkets should not be purveyors of social or moral policy.”

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Warren Moore