Coles Group (ASX: COL) has taken a leaf out of Woolworths Group's (ASX: WOW) sustainability playbook with the announcement it will remove soft plastic reusable shopping bags for sale from all supermarkets and online by the end of June, in a move expected to take 230 million bags out of circulation within a year.
The move follows a similar decision made last month by Woolworths to stop selling reusable bags nationwide from June, running down stock across New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania following actions already in other states and territories. Woolworths claimed the decision would remove 9,000 tonnes of plastic from circulation annually.
Coles Group chief operations and sustainability officer Matt Swindells says the decision to end the sale of soft-plastic bags nationwide was an important step in meeting the supermarket’s sustainability ambitions.
"The most sustainable option is to bring your own reusable bag to the supermarket, but for those who forget, we will continue to sell 100 per cent recycled paper bags that can be recycled kerbside, as well as other reusable options," he says.
"The 100 per cent recycled paper bags have been tested for use and we’re confident they can hold up to 6 kilos of goods. That includes everything you need to make spaghetti bolognese or a family roast."
The announcement follows Coles’ decision to remove single-use plastic carry bags at checkouts in 2018, which saved approximately 14,000 tonnes of plastic from being produced each year.
From next week, paper bags will be used for home delivery and Click&Collect orders where customers also have a bag-free option.
Reusable fresh produce bags made from 90 per cent recycled material are also available across Coles supermarkets nationally. Plastic bags made with 50 per cent recycled plastic remain available in the fresh produce department, excluding in the ACT where they have been replaced with compostable bags made from plant-based corn starch.
To further reduce the use of bags across the business, Coles is currently trialling a new initiative called Swap-a-box in selected states that allows customers to use a reusable box when making Click&Collect orders.
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