Coles claim 1.7 billion single-use plastic bags diverted from landfill

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 27th June 2019

Coles has claimed that it diverted 1.7 billion lightweight single-use plastic bags from landfill since removing them from checkouts a year ago.

While Coles says that its customers are choosing reusable Community Bags, it says that this switch has raised $2.5 million for charities.

Given that the reusable Community Bags sell at $0.15 per Community Bag, Coles says that it has distributed only $2.5 million for charities. This suggests that either many Coles customers are not acquiring a high volume of the new Community Bags, or it might mean that they are using the same base many times over, or that they are buying less and carrying smaller volumes of products from the store.

New data reveals Coles customers have changed their shopping habits significantly in the past 12 months, with seven in 10 now remembering to bring their own reusable bags every time they shop and a further two in 10 bringing them on more occasions than not.

Chief Operating Officer Greg Davis said the removal of single-use plastic carry bags is one of the ways that Coles is working towards becoming Australia’s most sustainable supermarket.

“When we announced in 2017 that we would remove lightweight single-use plastic bags from our stores, we knew we would have to support customers to help them form new shopping habits,” he said.

“Our Community Bags are one way we have helped customers who forget to bring their bags from home.

“We partner with a range of community groups who benefit from the sale of our Community Bags and it is fantastic to see the positive outcomes achieved through the sale of these bags in just 12 months.”

Coles’ range of Community Bags have now raised more than $2.5 million for community organisations such as SecondBite, Guide Dogs, Little Athletics, Clean Up Australia and Aspect schools.

With 10 per cent of sales proceeds from selected Community Bags directed to these causes, we’ve enabled:

  • More than two million meals for Australians in need through SecondBite;
  • Grants for new sports equipment for nearly 220 Little Athletics centres;
  • Support to raise 12 puppies to become guide dogs; and
  • Disaster relief packs for households in Townsville during the February 2019 floods, 100,000 pairs of kids’ gloves for schools and 6000 first aid kits for community and youth groups through Clean Up Australia.

Guide Dogs Australia National Corporate Partnerships Manager Caroline Lee said the charity was extremely grateful to Coles for the ongoing support provided through the Community Bag program.

“Over the past 12 months Coles have contributed over $580,000 to Guide Dogs Australia through the sales of the Community Bags,” she said.

“With these funds we are thrilled to announce that an additional 12 puppies can be trained to help provide independence, freedom and mobility to people in the community living with low vision or blindness.”

Coles Group this week announced a refreshed corporate strategy to help customers lead healthier, happier lives. This includes embedding sustainability processes across the business to improve outcomes in areas like energy use and waste that will set Coles up to be recognised as Australia’s most sustainable supermarket.