Sea Shepherd volunteer finds Coles collectables from four months ago on WA beach

Coles is being criticised after Stikeez collectables were found on a WA beach.

Sea Shepherd Australia’s Marine Debris Campaign, whose mission is to remove plastic from seas, wrote in a Facebook post that a volunteer named Danny found two Stikeez collectables on Jindalee Beach north of Perth on Saturday.

“Wildlife can't tell whether an item is made of plastic or something to eat. If ingested a small, colourful plastic toy vegetable can be life threatening,” the post said.

“For Coles, this Stikeez promotion might have been aimed at healthy eating for children, but for an animal there's nothing healthy about a stomach full of plastic.”

The Stikeez promotion ran from February 13 to Tuesday March 26 or until most stores ran out.

Danny, a volunteer with Sea Shepherd Australia's Marine Debris Campaign, holding two Coles Stikeez collectables. Sea Shepherd said the two were found on Jindalee Beach in Perth.
Sea Shepherd volunteer Danny says he found two Coles Stikeez collectables on a Perth beach. Source: Facebook/ Sea Shepherd- Marine Debris Campaign

Coles was criticised in March after Stikeez were found washed up on Hamilton Island in North Queensland - 34km away from the nearest supermarket.

A man also found a Coles Little Shop collectable washed up on a beach in August last year.

Find generates online debate

One woman suggested after the WA find that people needed to take more responsibility in how they dispose of products.

“It is a two-way street,” she wrote.

“Coles is irresponsible in producing the bits of useless plastic, but we as consumers are irresponsible in accepting them and allowing our children to make us shop this way. If we refused them Coles wouldn't have a market.”

One man added Coles shouldn’t be blamed at all.

“Blame the people that threw it there (or lost it...?)” he wrote.

“I went to the beach on Saturday and saw a plastic wrapper from a health food product. No whinging, I picked it up and put it in the bin.”

Others recommended saying no to collectables at the check-out.

“If no one took them, the supermarkets would not have these environmentally destructive promotions,” one woman wrote.

“People used to assess situations and items for themselves.”

Coles says collectables designed to be kept

A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia in a statement the collectables ran for a limited time “and were designed to encourage Aussie kids and their parents to eat more fresh fruit and veggies”.

“At Coles we take our responsibility for managing our environmental and social impacts seriously and as a business we are committed to recycling and minimising waste,” the spokesperson said.

“The Stikeez mini collectables were designed to be kept and customers were able to recycle the wrappers at their nearest store through our in-store REDCycle program.”

Photo shows Coles Stikeez in a cardboard display.
Sea Shepherd says the onus for looking after Stikeez is with Coles. The supermarket says customers don't need to take collectables after they buy groceries. Source: Coles (file pic)

Coles collectables including Little Shop are also optional for customers to accept when making a transaction.

Sea Shepherd urges Coles to do more

A Marine Debris spokesperson for Sea Shepherd told Yahoo News Australia they want Coles to stop campaigns involving single-use plastics.

“Given that Coles is making efforts to improve in areas such as its plastic bag policy, we were surprised to see them giving away these single-use plastic toys in their stores,” the spokesperson said.

“However we were not surprised that, months on, we are found them at one of our regular beach clean-ups.

“Coles Stikeez collectables are single-use plastic items that will be used once and go on to live forever once the ‘craze’ passes.”

The spokesperson added the “onus” is on Coles, not the consumer.

“Given the criticism that Coles has received for last years ‘Little Shop’ plastic toy range and this years 'Stikeez Collectables' we would like to see them discontinue single-use plastic promotions and move to environmentally responsible alternatives,” the spokesperson said.

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