Coles under fire over plastic bag backflip

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Coles copped enormous public backlash yesterday for its apparent decision to renege on its plastic bag ban, and it seems like that backlash outweighed the pressure they were copping from angry shoppers who didn't want to pay 15 cents per bag.

A major Australian supermarket chain has set a third deadline to end free plastic bags for shoppers, balancing customer anger at an additional shopping expense with environmentalists' demand for corporate action against plastic pollution.

"We are extending our complimentary bag offer until Wednesday 29 August for our customers in QLD, NSW, VIC and WA", Mr Durkan said.

The retail boss sent an all-staff email empathising with his team that the change from single-use plastic bags "has been a big and hard change for many of our customers".

"What about the people who actually go and do the shopping and who have said to Coles, "No, we want our plastic bags".

The backflip prompted rival Woolworths to reaffirm its commitment to banning single-use plastic bags, and another player, Harris Farm Markets, to plead with the NSW state Government to crack down.

"They have a very limited life and the removal of the price signal also means they are more likely to be littered - something we warned about".

"Today's announcement that the spotted plastic bag will continue to be a free feature at the checkout is a breach of faith".

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A spokesperson for Coles says while customers were starting to embrace the change, some were still finding they were short of bags at the checkout and need more time to make the transition.

"This is happening all over the world and Australia needs to step up the game".

Harris Farms CEO Angus Harris urged Woolworths and Coles to maintain their ban noting he understood how hard phasing out bags had been for his company. "We also call on the board of Coles to reconsider this decision for the sake of our planet", co-CEO Angus Harris said.

The post renewed a call to the state government to implement a ban on single-use bags, as well as a plea to Woolworths not to do the same as Coles.

The controversy around plastic bags comes as customers attacked Coles for giving away toy plastic replicas of some of its grocery products last week.

"It's just messy", chief executive Gayle Sloan said.

"They talked the talk but haven't walked the walk", she told the AAP on Wednesday.

A bit of patience is needed and consumers are capable of changing their behaviours quickly, Ms Sloan said.

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