Male Sea LionSea Shepherd volunteers have picked up approximately
14,000 plastic bags around the country in 2017 (Photo Credit: Sea Shepherd).

Sea Shepherd Australia is astounded by retailer Coles following two announcements by the national grocery chain yesterday, relating to its renewed position on supplying customers with complimentary plastic bags. This follows Coles implementing a ban on single-use plastic bags from July 1, 2018 in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia and existing legislated bans in South Australia, Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT.

Coles essentially back-flipped on an original policy of charging 15 cents for its thicker-style Coles Better Bag, when early this morning it stated it would indefinitely supply these plastic bags free of charge. Following backlash within hours Coles retracted this position saying they would now be doing this for an interim period.

This is the third time in just four weeks the major grocery chain has stated it will supply plastic shopping bags to customers free of charge, despite strong community opposition.

“The actions by Coles today makes a mockery of why plastic bag bans were introduced in the first place - we need to be reducing the amount of plastic bags in circulation not increasing them,” Jeff Hansen, Managing Director of Sea Shepherd Australia, said.

“Coles says banning single-use plastic bags ‘is the right thing to do for the environment’ but providing these thicker bags for free is farcical.

"There is no disincentive for customers to change their habits and there will still be thousands if not millions of bags out there in circulation as potential hazards for marine life. This instability in Coles support for a plastic free ocean, makes it very difficult for customers to turn their bad habits into good habits for our marine life and oceans for the benefit of future generations.”

“Our oceans and precious marine life are choking on plastic, so much so that its right through the food chain, to the level that if you eat seafood, there is a good chance you’re eating plastic and the toxic chemicals they absorb. This further backflip by coles is a complete disregard for our marine life and a slap in the face to our children that need healthy oceans.”

Coles is out of touch with the many thousands of Australians who are trying their very best to reduce their environmental footprint, by choosing to invest in alternatives to menacing plastic bags.

Coles states on their website that they ‘continually looking at ways to reduce plastic’ but judging by this policy to again provide free plastic bags this is clearly not the case.

In 2017, volunteers from Sea Shepherd Australia’s Marine Debris Campaign which hosts beach and river clean-ups around the country, removed over 14,000 plastic bags.

The campaign is making a CALL TO ACTION – asking all Australians to call Coles Customer Service on 1800 061 562 to voice their opposition to Coles supplying plastic bags free of charge.

“Let Coles know you think their plastic bag ban is a plastic bag nightmare for the oceans,” Jeff said.

Read our story as it is appearing in news outlets this morning:


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