Will Coles follow Woolworths and ditch plastic shopping bags?

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More than 9000 tonnes of plastic will be removed from circulation every year when Woolworths and Big W cease selling reusable plastic bags — but its rival Coles has no plans to follow suit.

On Friday it was announced Woolworths would phase out reusable plastic shopping bags over the coming year, making it the first national supermarket to make the pledge.

Big-W, which is part of the Woolworths Group, will also have no reusable plastic bags in stores by the end of June next year.

Australia's other supermarket giant Coles won't be getting rid of the reusable plastic bags any time soon.

Woolworths it would cease selling reusable plastic bags over the coming year. Source: AAP
Woolworths it would cease selling reusable plastic bags over the coming year. Source: AAP

A Coles spokesperson said paper shopping bags have been introduced in Western Australia ahead of the state government's ban on plastic shopping bags.

Western Australia's ban will come into effect on July 1 and Woolworths has already phased out the plastic bags in the state.

The Coles spokesperson said in other states, paper shopping bags have been trialled, to give customers a choice.

"Outside of WA, we are continuing to offer customers reusable Coles Better Bags made with 80 per cent recycled plastic, as well as Marine Reusable Shopping Bags made with 20 per cent marine waste plastic," the spokesperson said.

"These can be recycled at the end of their useful life via the REDcycle collection bins available in every one of our stores.”

A shopper enters a Coles supermarket in Canberra, Wednesday, August 18, 2021.
Coles will not stop selling reusable plastic shopping bags. Source: AAP

In a statement on Friday, Managing Director of Woolworths Supermarkets Natalie Davis said reusable plastic bags were introduced in 2018, to help Woolworths customers adjust to single-use plastic bags being removed.

“We’ve seen a huge shift in shopping habits since we stopped giving out single-use plastic bags, with eight out of ten customers now bringing their own bags from home," she said.

“The reusable plastic bags have played their part, and now it's time to do away with selling plastic shopping bags at our checkouts for good."

A shopper is seen carrying bags at a Coles Sydney CBD store, Sydney, Monday, July 2, 2018.
Both Coles and Woolworths stopped giving out single-use plastic bags in 2018. Source: AAP

What about plastic produce bags?

In 2018, along with Woolworths, Coles stopped providing single-use plastic bags, however, single-use produce bags remained.

Earlier this month it was announced Coles will roll-out reusable mesh produce bags around Australia for fruit and vegetables.

Coles said the reusable produce bags will be made out of 90 per cent recycled material.

Despite phasing out plastic shopping bags, Woolworths will still have plastic produce bags available to customers.

However, on Friday the supermarket said it is exploring more sustainable options.

In South Australia, Woolworths has already switched to compostable fruit and veg bags, and the switch was possible by the state's "nation-leading access to household composting".

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