Coles has announced it will trial the removal of single-use plastic fresh produce bags next month.
The latest initiative in Coles "Together to Zero" waste ambition, the trial will be rolled out in ACT supermarkets to reduce plastic waste and encourage customers to use reusable bags.
To help shoppers make the switch to reusable bags, Coles will be offering ACT customers who spend $5 in-store on fresh fruit and veggies a free three-pack of reusable mesh fresh produce bags.
Customers can score their recycled fresh produce bags from ACT Coles supermarkets from Wednesday 31 August until Tuesday 13 September, before the retailer removes single-use plastic produce bags.
Single-use plastic fresh produce bags, also known as barrier bags, will be removed from all 12 stores across the ACT from Wednesday 14 September.
During the trial, customers will be encouraged to bring reusable bags when shopping, or can buy reusable mesh produce bags in-store at Coles.
Initiative to reduce 11 tonnes of plastic per year
Coles Chief Operations and Sustainability Officer Matt Swindells said the initiative is expected to reduce about 11 tonnes of plastic each year.
"Under our Together to Zero waste ambition, we are always looking for ways to reduce reliance on unnecessary and problematic single-use plastics packaging and provide sustainable solutions to our customers," he said.
Mr Swindells said Coles will monitor ACT customers' response to the initiative before rolling it out nationally.
"We will be looking closely at how our ACT customers respond. These insights will inform our consideration for potentially rolling this out to our customers nationally."
While Mr Swindells claimed Coles is the first major Australian supermarket to trial reusable produce bags, rival Woolworths introduced compostable bags and removed single-use plastic bags from the fruit and veg departments at all of its South Australian stores in April of this year.
Other sustainability initiatives
Meanwhile, the supermarket recently rolled out fresh produce bags made with 50 per cent recycled plastic across the country, which can be returned and recycled via the REDcycle bins at any Coles store.
However, the plastic barrier bags will continue to be used in delis and in Coles Online orders.
Coles has also reduced unnecessary plastics in its Own Brand products. Earlier this year, the retailer removed plastic scoops from Coles Tropical Paradise and Coles Ultra Original and Sensitive laundry powders, saving three tonnes of plastic in a single year.
The supermarket also released its Marine Reusable Shopping Bags, made with 80 per cent recycled plastic, including 20 per cent marine waste collected from coastlines, beaches and waterways.
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