Coles has come under fire just one day after revealing their new FlyBuys promotion.
From August 4 until October 12 Coles is offering customers free plastic reuseable picnicware, which can be redeemed through collecting FlyBuys credits.
The range of melamine picnicware includes dipping bowls, bowls, serving bowls and plates.
The new promotion comes just one week after the supermarket announced they were ending promotions with plastic collectable toys, including their little shops range.
The supermarket also announced earlier this year that it would stop selling plastic tableware and joined a pact with other major Australian companies to make all their plastics recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025.
And some customers are already unimpressed by what's on offer.
“Not a fan, nothing beats glass or China,” one shopper on the Coles Cooking Club Facebook page.
“Not greatly impressed, more plastic!! Plus melamine is not dishwasher or microwave safe,” said another.
“I don’t want no plastic space-wasting garbage... come on Coles give back my cookware credits!” commented a third.
"You ran out of stock again (& knives) when I so patiently accumulated them, again, so dissatisfied and disappointed with Coles and their unfair promotions."
Others labeled the promotion as “silly” because the picnicware was already relatively cheap to buy.
Coles responds to picnicware promotion concerns
However, a Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that the loyalty program range offers customers value for money.
"We remain committed to no longer giving away plastic toys at the checkout," the spokesperson said.
"This loyalty campaign is purposeful and we are looking to provide our customers with durable, lightweight and unbreakable picnicware which can be used again and again, providing a sustainable alternative to the disposable single-use tableware we removed from shelves in July.
"Like the glassware, chef knives and stainless steel cookware that we have offered in previous campaigns, the picnicware is a household product that would be regularly used and purchased by most Australian families.”
While some customers aren’t impressed to see the supermarket introduce the plastic picnicware range, others were excited to get their hands on the products, following the success of the MasterChef cookware and knives campaigns.
“I'm more excited about these than the saucepan,” one person said.
"Excellent for salads or barbecues and dishwasher safe," commented another.
“I’m excited for it! I love these promotions,” said a third.
Could Melamine be dangerous?
Dinnerware and other kitchen products made from Melamine - a nitrogen-based compound - could potentially be toxic, according to a US health warning.
The US Food and Drug Administer (FDA) has conducted safety testing on these products to identify whether melamine leaked into foods when the plastic dinnerware reached a high-temperature. In some instances, melamine was detected.
Researchers suggested that those who are exposed to melamine were at risk of potential long-term harm which “should be of concern”.
While the FDA found that melamine products are safe to use, they recommended that they should not be used in a microwave.
Coles sustainability campaign
Coles recently announced they were aiming to be "Australia’s most sustainable supermarket" by reviewing the sustainability of their marketing campaigns.
Coles Chief Marketing Officer Lisa Ronson said while collectable toy programs have proved popular in the past, they no longer align with Coles’ sustainability ambitions or with customers’ preferences and priorities.
“In a recent survey of 9,000 of our customers, reducing waste to landfill and plastic packaging was the number one concern when it comes to environmental issues in retail, with 69 per cent of those surveyed saying it was of high importance to them,” she said.
“We know that customers will understand the need to ensure our campaigns are more sustainable for future generations.
“Our ambition is to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket which means we need to be committed to reducing unnecessary plastic, and this extends throughout our business.”
Notably, Coles has been eliminating plastic use in stores since 2018 when together with retail rival Woolworths they scrapped single-use plastic bags.
How the Coles Picnicware promotion works
Like other Coles Flybuys promotions, customers are able to claim their free picnicware after collecting credits.
Shoppers will receive one credit for every $20 spent in one transaction in store and online after scanning their FlyBuys card.
Once shoppers have enough credits, they'll be able to redeem them for the free picnicware in store.
Customers need between 10 and 20 credits to redeem the range that includes a set of two dipping bowls, a set of two bowls, a set of two plates or two serving bowls.
Customers will also be able to receive bonus points by purchasing participating products.
There are more than 1000 participating brands including Abbotts Bakery, Head & Shoulders, Colgate, Swisse Vitamins, Fancy Feast Cat Food, Jalna Yoghurt, Blue Ribbon Ice Cream and Dairy Farmers.
The range of Picnicware is also available to purchase in store, while stocks last, starting from $10 for the set of two 10cm dipping bowls for $10.
"Now that we’ve stopped selling single-use plastic plates and bowls, we want to make life easier for our loyal shoppers and reward them with a beautiful range of Picnicware that is designed to be used time after time again – whether you’re dining at home with kids, a backyard barbie or going to a picnic in the park," Ms Ronson said.
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