Coles reveals truth about 'unnecessary' plastic bag policy

An ongoing gripe over a frustrating element of Coles’ delivery service has once again escalated.

A shopper this week reported receiving his small online order in 13 bags, with some non-fragile items arriving with an entire 15-cent bag to themselves.

The customer, from Victoria, shared his frustration in a post to the supermarket’s Facebook page, revealing that he was able to repack his order to fit into just four bags - nine less than it came in.

He argued it was not only blatantly unnecessary to use so many bags, but the money made on each additional bag was likely doing wonders for the company’s hip pocket.

“You continue to give me a stupid number of bags. At this rate I'm going to have to rent a second house to store them,” he wrote.

Photo shows 13 bags and only four with groceries inside after they were repacked.
This shopper's delivery order was able to be repacked into just four bags. Source: Facebook

“The money doesn't bother me, although an extra $1.35 from X amount of customers you probably do this to every week definitely adds up in your pocket, that's for sure.”

He described the practice an “absolute waste of plastic and definitely unnecessary”, and even suggested that “someone must be getting a commission per bag”.

The bags he repacked were still less than a couple of kilograms, he said, arguing that weight could not be used as a justifiable reason for the excessive bag use.

A Coles employee responded to his fiery post, explaining plastic bags were “essential to keep your items together during the shopping process, and are necessary for health and safety reasons with some products”.

The comment also incorrectly stated there were a “range of bagged options” available to customers who shopped online.

Photo shows a pack of cat food inside one Coles bag.
Some items, like the one pictured, arrived with a bag to themselves. Source: Facebook

Another customer was fast to point out that actually, shoppers had no choice but to select the 15-cent bags when placing an online order for delivery.

A Coles spokesperson confirmed with Yahoo News Australia that the employee was in fact wrong, and that Coles Better Bags were currently online shoppers’ only option.

“The health and wellbeing of our customers is our priority. In light of the Covid-19 situation, we currently only offer Better Bags for home deliveries,” they said in a statement.

“We apologise for any inconvenience and would like to assure customers that we are working hard to resume normal delivery options and will let our customers know via our website as they become available.”

Why does Coles use so many plastic bags?

The supermarket recently revealed the real reason packers often placed individual items in single bags, even when they weren’t fragile.

“The number of plastic bags you receive is determined by the way in which our orders are picked. Our pickers collect items for multiple orders, from their allocated aisles of the supermarket,” a spokesperson said.

“As such, if you only have one item from your order in that picker’s area, it will be in a bag by itself.”

After trialling the use of canvas reusable bags and cardboard boxes, the supermarket said it received “mixed feedback” which “caused a significant upward pressure on delivery fees”.

The Better Bags can be recycled at REDcycle bins in Coles stores or customers can leave them out to be collected by their next delivery driver.

“The bags just need to be left at the front door or a location specified by the customer,” the spokesperson said.

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