A shopper has called out Coles over a problem many can relate to, claiming the supermarket's paper shopping bags aren't fit for purpose. The retailer, however, has defended the durability of the bags.
"Thanks Coles for your little... 25 cent, made-in-Vietnam paper bags that supposedly can hold six kilos," the woman said in a TikTok video which has been viewed more than 230,000 times.
In the clip, the customer's ripped Coles bag, which is made from 100 per cent recycled paper, can be seen lying on the ground with grocery items — including a soft drink and bag of chips — nearby.
The Queensland resident explained that the handle tore off the bag despite its relatively light load. "I didn't even have six kilos worth of groceries in this thing and it just snapped, clean snapped, right here," she said. "That’s not six kilos worth of groceries. Down down, groceries down. F**k you, Coles."
Coles defends paper shopping bags
However Coles is adamant that its bags are up to scratch. "Our paper bags have undergone vigorous independent testing and found to safely hold up six kilos of groceries, including chilled and frozen items, and can be reused multiple times," a spokesperson for the supermarket giant told Yahoo News Australia.
"Our paper bags are made from 100 per cent recycled paper and unlike soft plastic bags can be recycled kerbside. Since we announced our decision to phase out soft plastic bags in May, we have been impressed by our customers' response to the paper bags and thank them for their willingness to adapt and support this important change that will see 230 million plastic bags removed from circulation in 1 year.”
While Coles also pointed out that it sells reusable tote bags for as little as a $1 and chiller bags for $2.50, the spokesperson said the most sustainable option is to bring your own reusable bag to the supermarket.
Supermarket shoppers slam paper bags
Many on social media were quick to take the woman's side. "I feel you, my bag had mince and olive oil and it broke as I walked into my house, now olive oil is everywhere," one viewer responded. "Coles and Woolies bags are a waste of money," another said, while someone else commented that their Aldi paper bag "didn't make it out of the store before my few items were over the carpark".
Woman blamed for overpacking bag
Others pointed out that maybe the woman was trying to carry too much and accused her of "sooking". Inside the broken bag was a packet of Zooper Doopers, a box of Crunchie ice creams, two packets of muesli bars, a box of crackers and a pot of two-minute noodles.
"There is like six kilograms of sugar alone in that bag," one viewer commented, while someone else wrote, "That's why you use the recycle bag instead of those paper ones."
"I've never had a problem. If I don't have my own bag, I spread the groceries out over two bags, or double bag," said another, to which the TikToker replied, "Plenty of others have had the same problem" and argued that the bags shouldn't be sold if they can't carry 6kg as promised.
Future for plastic
The paper bags have been a source of frustration since they were implemented at Coles, Woolworths and Aldi earlier this year, with many claiming they're unsuitable for carrying groceries.
Despite the complaints, environmentalists have heralded the transition from plastic to paper, but say supermarkets still have a "very long way to go in reducing the plastic pollution burden".
"The next target should be the excessive plastic packaging in the fresh fruit and refrigerated groceries section," Dr Paul Harvey, an environmental scientist and author of The Plasticology Project, previously told Yahoo News. "Perhaps one day the shelves will be clear of plastic packaging, except for those rare few absolutely essential uses."
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