Woolworths workers call out customers over brazen in-store act

Woolworths employees have taken to social media to slam customers for brazenly dumping their soft plastics in stores despite the supermarket giant's recycling program being on indefinite hiatus.

Video has emerged of soft plastics left abandoned by shoppers in the section of a Woolies store previously occupied by a recycling station.

In clear view are signs stating the supermarket's recycling program is currently unavailable due to network disruptions, however this didn't prevent customers from dumping their plastics.

Woolworths dumped plastic
A Woolworths employee shared video of dumped plastics where a recycling station was previously located. Source: Facebook

Common problem

The footage, posted in an unofficial Facebook group for Woolworths workers, has prompted employees of the company to fire back at shoppers for doing the wrong thing.

"Really appreciate it thanks," wrote the author of the post, while another staffer commented, "A customer read the sign, looked me in the eyes and still placed the plastic bags down before walking off."

The dumping of soft plastics appears to be a common problem at Woolworths stores, with another staff member commenting, "My Everyday!"

Another Woolworths team member sounded off on customers' inability to heed any notices. "Rule 1 - customers cannot and will not read signs, no matter how many you erect or how large they are," he wrote.

Customers seek recycling options

This latest furore about recycling comes after revelations that recycled items dropped at Woolworths and Coles had not been recycled for months. Instead, shopping bags, food wrappers and bubble wrap collected as part of the supermarket recycling program REDcycle has been delivered to long-term storage warehouses.

Woolworths confirmed the REDcycle program was suspended nationwide on November 9 due to disruptions in the provider's network, which had resulted in the stockpiling of soft plastic yet to be recycled. REDcycle bins were removed from Woolworths stores and signs were hung where the bins had been located and at the service desk to make customers aware of the change.

Shoppers have been asking Woolworths when the recycling program will return since it was suspended.

"Hi Woolworths, what are you doing to fix the soft plastics recycling issue? Your bread bags (among other things) tell me to bring them back to store for recycling. How do I do that now that REDcycle is gone?" wrote one customer on the Woolies Facebook page.

Woolworths 'urgently' working on solution

When reached for comment on the future of a recycling program, a Woolworths spokesperson told Yahoo News that it is a high priority for the retailer.

"We share our customers' disappointment that they're not currently able to return their soft plastics to the store for recycling, however we're mindful of the current pressures on the REDcycle business and the risks of further adding to their stockpiles."

The spokesperson continued, "REDcycle provided the only consumer-facing soft plastic recycling program for the majority of Australians, accepting any household soft plastics from food packaging, to plastic from other retailers and online shopping.

"We are urgently working through a range of options with the government, grocery manufacturers and the recycling industry to support the future of soft plastic recycling. It is critical that we work together to build a robust recycling system for soft plastic in Australia."

Woolies, Coles, Aldi form plastics taskforce

Following the response from Woolworths, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) revealed that it approved conditional interim authorisation on Friday for the supermarket to form a Soft Plastics Taskforce with Coles and Aldi to combat the collapse of the REDcycle scheme.

The interim authorisation allows the three retailers to engage in meetings to devise and implement a short-term solution for the storage, transportation, processing, recycling and/or management of soft plastics.

"The application envisages that a longer-term solution to the issue of recycling soft plastics is needed and that the proposed conduct will not detract from or adversely affect the development of longer-term solutions," ACCC deputy chair Mick Keogh said.

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