Call for Woolworths and Coles to fix surprising packaging gripe

·News Reporter
·3-min read

An activist is campaigning for Woolworths and Coles to ensure their packaging is more accessible for elderly and disabled people.

Beata Stasak sent two identical posts to the Woolworths and Coles Facebook pages on Friday within minutes of one another.

“I am an advocate for increasing accessible plastic free packaging in your supermarkets,” Ms Stasak wrote.

The woman’s campaign seeks to ensure product packaging is easier to open.

"Manufacturers and suppliers do not always consider people with disabilities and elderly persons when creating their designs," she wrote.

“Considering the high statistics of people with disabilities in Australia, I think that major supermarkets such as yours need to lead the way in ensuring you stock accessible products."

An elderly person holding their own hand as if in pain.
The activist said she was concerned many people had trouble opening plastic packaging. Source: Getty Images

Ms Stasak's posts were inspired by a Change.org petition calling for supermarket giants to make their packaging more accessible to everyone which has more than 13,000 signatures.

A report by the Australian Network on Disability states 1 in 5 people in Australia have a disability.

In another by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates 16.3% of the Australian population are aged 65 and over.

Additionally, Arthritis Australia states 1 in 6 Australians suffer from arthritis.

Neither retailer had publicly commented on the woman’s posts at the time of publication.

Support grows for accessibility challenge

A comment on the woman’s post to the Coles Facebook page has illustrated the difficulties some people have with supermarket packaging. 

“I have osteoarthritis and I get around with a walker,” the person wrote.

“I have a pair of scissors in my bag which I use to cut open plastic wrapped goods.”

“I couldn't manage it without the scissors as my fingers are arthritic and I have also lost strength in my hands."

The person highlighted their struggle with opening plastic packaging before stating potential implications of the woman’s movement.

“I do not want to see any alternative that drastically reduces the use by dates for goods," they said.

Woolworths’s sustainability page outlines measures have been taken to reduce plastic in stores, but has similarly commented on the shelf life of products due to this change.

“For example, a plastic-wrapped continental cucumber lasts three times longer than an unwrapped continental cucumber,” the page says.

Supermarkets respond to customer's call for action

A Woolworths spokesperson has told Yahoo News Australia they were dedicated to creating positive experiences for customers.

“We want to create positive, convenient experiences for our customers, and we encourage feedback on any packaging that isn’t user-friendly," the spokesperson said.

“Along with our suppliers, we take a range of factors into consideration when designing packaging, including ease of opening, food quality and freshness, and sustainability.

“We have removed 9,000 tonnes of plastic from our packaging over the last four years and are constantly looking for opportunities to reduce plastic.

“We’re also mindful of food waste, and ensuring products are packaged to maintain high standards of food quality.”

A Coles spokesperson has told Yahoo News they had launched a new range for people with disabilities.

“Coles continuously strives to improve the accessibility of our stores, sites and workplaces for our team members and customers with disability," the spokesperson said.

"This year we were proud to launch Able Foods – a range of fresh, nutritious, ready-made meals for people with disabilities.

"Able Foods is also working with Coles on ways to better serve customers with disability, including staff training, and is looking for other products to roll out in supermarkets during 2021.”

Both supermarket giants have also implemented a dedicated "quiet hour" in their store, whereby customers can shop in a low-sensory environment.

The grocers have also implemented click-and-collect initiatives where customers can order groceries online and have them delivered to their car.

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