Woolworths slammed for 'ironic' accessory amid new campaign

Tom Flanagan
·News Reporter
·3-min read

An “ironic” Woolworths product is causing a stir and has prompted yet further criticism for the supermarket giant regarding its use of plastics in store.

While Woolworths has taken several steps to remove plastics from shelves in recent years, a keyring encouraging customers to use environmentally-friendly shopping bags has prompted an angry response after a photo of it was shared to Twitter by the ABC show Gruen.

The image, which was initially shared by a disgruntled customer to the Woolworths Facebook page, shows the key ring wrapped in plastic wrapping despite having a message about the use of ‘green bags’ written on the side of the key ring.

The packagin on the Woolworths keyring has been branded "ironic". Source: Facebook
The packagin on the Woolworths keyring has been branded "ironic". Source: Facebook

“I love how eco-friendly Woolworths is. Plastic tag, wrapped in plastic....” the customer sarcastically captioned the image.

And Gruen continued the satire, stating: “Good job, we’d hate to waste plastic”.

The tweet, which has since been liked over 600 times, prompted several comments hitting out at the use of single-use plastic.

“Are you really that ignorant or simply climate change deniers? Possibly both,” one angry user wrote.

“What a joke,” another said.

“The irony of Woolies advertising!” one person said.

Woolworths says packaging is ‘unnecessary’

A Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia that they agreed with the feedback and that the plastic wrapping for the key ring, which is designed to be used a trolley token, is “unnecessary”.

The packaging was introduced several years ago and the supermarket will now move to find a “more sustainable solution”.

Woolworths shopping carts are seen at a store in Double Bay in Sydney.
Woolworths has been slammed for releasing a 'trolley token' which shoppers say is an 'unnecessary' waste of plastic. Source: AAP

The supermarket says the plastic wrapping is recyclable through the REDcycle program in store which repurposes soft plastics into new items.

“This plastic is turned into new products, including benches and other fittings in our own stores,” the spokesperson explained.

Shift on plastic mentality needed, experts warn

As part of Woolworths’ Sustainability Plan, the supermarket has committed to making 100 per cent of its own brand packing recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2023.

However, Dr Lisa Heinze from Sydney Environment Institute at the the University of Sydney says less than 10 per cent of plastics are recycled nationwide and urged for further plastics to be phased out short and long term.

Executive Director of the university’s The Warren Centre, Ashley Brinson said it was vital to shift focus to phasing out plasticsss as opposed to how they can be reused.

“Forward-looking engineers are working to design the problems out of short life cycle consumer products and wasteful single-use plastic packaging rather than merely apply end-of-the-pipe waste disposal and recycling," he said.

Woolworths has embarked on a mission to reduce plastics in store. Source: Supplied
Woolworths has embarked on a mission to reduce plastics in store. Source: Supplied

Woolworths’ most significant removal of plastics from stores came in the shape of the ban on single-use plastic bags in 2018.

However, sustainability expert Dr Geoffrey Binder at the University of Melbourne previously told Yahoo News Australia it didn’t necessarily result in less plastic going to landfill and customers need to be educated as well to tackle plastic waste.

“A ban can be useful but the critical question is what follows? And what strategies are they giving people so their behaviours can transition to something more environmentally sustainable,” he said.

“The problem is when we look to change behaviours on the basis of a causal model, when we look to change behaviour by simply banning something, then it’s going to fail.”

In June, Woolworths announced a further removal of plastics from its fresh produce, claiming to have removed 237 tonnes of plastic packaging in the preceding 12 months.

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