Staggering amount Coles, Woolworths expected to make from reusable bags

Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths appear set to rake in around $71 million in gross profit from the sale of their 15c heavy duty plastic carriers following the ban on single-use plastic bags.

Queensland University of Technology’s Professor Gary Mortimer has calculated the big retailers are also saving about $170 million a year by not providing shoppers with free plastic bags.

A reusable Coles bag. File pic. Source: AAP
A reusable Coles bag. File pic. Source: AAP

Prof Mortimer says he has sourced an online provider of heavier bags at 9c, rather than 15c, “but if you are buying in bulk, you would get a cheaper price,” he told News Corp Australia.

He wrote in Business Insider in 2017 that supermarket margins were feeling the “strain of price deflation”, but with the introduction of reusable bags, retailers could expect to see a reduction in “packaging costs”.

Prof Mortimer also estimated Australian retailers were giving away six billion single-use plastic bags each year.

Associate Professor Ruth Barcon, Sydney Environment Institute at Sydney Uni told Yahoo7 she felt the single-use ban is based on a “commercial decision in the face of consumer pressure”.

The change has also angered some consumers.

Disgruntled Coles and Woolworths customers have taken to social media with claims staff won’t pack bags from rival supermarkets and don’t know how to pack them correctly.

In WA, there were claims a man became enraged to the point of physically assaulting a Woolworths staff member.

“We received a report that a guy at a self-serve checkout at Woolworths became unhappy about there being no single-use plastic bags,” Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association WA assistant secretary Ben Harris told Yahoo7.

Mr Harris said the staff member handed the man a reusable bag and left the man to continue using the checkout, but he accidentally scanned an item twice.

“The man then walked up behind the woman and put his hands around her throat,” Mr Harris said.