'Come on, it's 2020': Why Coles photo sparked anger

Nadine Carroll
·3-min read

A Coles Express customer has lashed out at the supermarket giant for its use of single use plastic straws.

“Plastic straws still? Come on guys it’s 2020,” the woman wrote on the Coles Facebook page along with a photo holding up an individually wrapped plastic ‘slurpee’ straw in front of a Coles Express service station.

The photo prompted a strong response on social media with some pointing out the straw was even more problematic given it was wrapped individually in plastic.

“Let's curb the plastic issue by now wrapping plastic in plastic,” one person responded sarcastically.

A Coles Express customer holding up an individually wrapped plastic straw
A Coles Express customer wanted to know why plastic straws were still available when there are more environmentally friendly alternatives. Source: AAP/Facebook

When asked by one person why she accepted the straw, the customer said the person who had purchased the drink didn’t realise it was a plastic straw until he had already touched it.

“Given the coronavirus rules, he didn’t want to put it back,” she wrote.

“Don’t use them, nobody is forcing you,” another person replied.

The Coles customer defended herself stating that she had reusable straws but felt the company should be more environmentally friendly.

“I’m definitely doing my bit by having my own reusable straws but as a billion dollar company they can afford to offer a more environmentally conscious choice,” she wrote.

In 2018 both Woolworths and Coles pledged to reduce the amount of single plastic they used, with Woolworths banning the sale of plastic straws and Coles setting a deadline to make packaging of its home-brand products recyclable.

plastic straws individually wrapped in plastic
Coles has copped heat for its use of plastic straws, wrapped in plastic. Source: Getty

A Coles spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia some single use plastic was unavoidable.

“We understand the concerns customers have about plastic both in packaging and as single use products. Some single use plastic products provide a function while others are unnecessary.”

The supermarket giant said it would continue to look for alternatives to single use plastics and alternative packaging, and Coles had followed through with its promise to reduce plastic use by 2020.

“During FY20, we stopped selling Own Brand plastic straws in our supermarkets and replaced them with a range of reusable options.

“We no longer supply lightweight, single-use shopping bags, having replaced them with reusable options including the Better Bag, which is made from 80% recycled content, and a range of community bags.”

A spokesperson for 7-Eleven told Yahoo that while they offer single use plastic straws, they also offer a place to recycle single use plastic at certain locations.

“As part of our Simply Cups partnership, straws, single use cups and lids are recyclable through the Simply Cups units we have installed in more than 630 stores across our store network.

“While we are proud of our pioneering partnership with Simply Cups, we remain committed to continuing exploring other ways we can be more sustainable across our operations.”

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