Coles shopper fumes over 'cruel' find in rubbish bin outside store

The supermarket giant has responded to the man's complaint, saying it 'recognises that food waste is a significant issue in Australia'.

Coles has come under fire after a man discovered a green food recycling bin stuffed to the brim with produce in mostly “excellent condition” behind one of the supermarket’s stores in Sydney.

The man said he was walking past the back of the Coles in Rose Bay when he noticed somebody had knocked the large ‘food recycle’ bin over, forcing the contents to spill into the street.

Left, the green bin fallen over in the street behind Coles at Rose Bay. Right is the produce pushing on the bin's lid.
A Coles shopper was stunned to find produce in 'excellent condition' in a green bin outside of a store in Rose Bay. Source: Facebook

“Except for an overripe banana, all of the produce was in excellent condition as you can see clearly in these photos,” he posted in a local Facebook group on Wednesday. Several images show the bin on its side with tomatoes, potatoes, celery, onions and nectarines pushing on the lid — with some still in plastic bags.

“Not sure about the rest of you, but I went grocery shopping for the family last weekend and felt sick at the cash register because of the total cost of our shopping,” the frustrated man said, tagging Member for Wentworth Allegra Spender in the post. “If you couldn’t afford fresh tomatoes when you last went shopping, these guys are chucking them in the bin!”

He went on to ask the MP if there was anyone that came to mind that could use these fresh vegetables and fruits to feed their family. “I definitely could,” he said.

Coles shopper left 'fuming' after seeing produce

Several horrified locals responded that they too could use the discarded produce, with one shopper deeming the dumping “heartbreaking and cruel”.

Food wastage is such a tragic issue when so many are going hungry/not able to eat nutritious food,” a person said. “It’s such a huge, disgusting waste,” another commented.

Left: An onion and a packet of broccoli sprouts on the fallen green bin. Right: The produce, some still wrapped in plastic, sticking out of the fallen Coles wheelie bin.
One local woman said she struggled to find sweet potatoes in the Coles store in Rose Bay, but was 'fuming' after seeing them in the bin. Source: Facebook

One woman said she had also spotted the produce in the bin after shopping at Coles and was “fuming”. “Not one sweet potato in store, and then a heap [were] on the floor looking perfectly fine outside! I almost stopped and grabbed some,” she said.

Numerous other people questioned why the food wasn’t given to a local shelter or charity.

Coles responds to man's bin complaint

Coles, which as well as Woolworths has previously come under fire for their “unrealistic beauty standards” regarding produce, responded to the man’s online complaint.

In a follow-up post, the Bondi resident shared his conversation with a spokesperson for the supermarket via Facebook messenger. “We’re concerned to learn of your dissatisfaction and extend our apologies,” the response reads. “We recognise that food waste is a significant issue in Australia and are supportive of considered industry reform that seeks to address the problem.”

The man’s feedback “has been forwarded to the relevant team for their review and action”.

Coles partnered with SecondBite in 2011 to provide meals for those in need and in 2019 launched its “I’m Perfect” range featuring produce which is “slightly flawed in appearance”.

A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia it is “proud of [it's] partnership with food rescue organisation Secondbite and Foodbank and have been working together in the fight against food hunger and food waste”.

“As a food retailer, we love food and do not want it to go to waste. Last financial year, we donated nearly 20,000 tonnes or the equivalent of more than 39 million meals to rescue organisations SecondBite and hunger relief charity Foodbank.”

“We have other food waste solutions including donations to farmers and animal or wildlife services as well as organic food collections.”

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