COLES is encouraging customers to buy and trade plastic goods with each other at the same time it is struggling to implement a ban on handing out free plastic bags.

The supermarket giant is this weekend holding a "Swap Day" across dozens of stores nationally encouraging shoppers to swap miniature plastic groceries item with each other.

Last month the supermarket giant rolled out its Little Shop campaign, enticing customers to spend at the checkout to collect the 30 miniature items as part of a collector set.

Customer collect one item for every $30 spent.

Coles is encouraging customers to buy and trade Little Shop plastic toys. 
Picture: Carla Gottgens
Coles is encouraging customers to buy and trade Little Shop plastic toys. Picture: Carla Gottgens

But environmentalists are livid Coles is actively promoting plastic trade swaps - a direct contradiction of its wobbly-kneed stance on phasing out single-use plastic bags in Victoria, NSW, Qld and WA since July 1.

Greenpeace campaigner Zoe Deans likened the campaign to that of McDonald's Happy meals toys that the fast-food outlet has previously used to get customers through the door.

"Sadly the majority of these Little Shop toys are likely to end up in landfill sooner rather than later," she said.

"Very few people hang on to toys such as these - virtually nobody still has the McDonald's Happy Meal toys they had a child.

"Coles are fooling themselves if they think parents and children will hang on to Little Shop toys for decades to come."

The Swap Day will be held on Saturday in 35 stores nationally - or about four per cent of its stores.

Environmentalists are livid Coles is actively promoting plastic trade swaps. Picture: Supplied
Environmentalists are livid Coles is actively promoting plastic trade swaps. Picture: Supplied

 

Coles has defended the rolling out of the plastic items and in a written response said, "We are overjoyed with how many customers are collecting, swapping or sharing their minis."

Coles has come under intense scrutiny for changing like the wind on its approach to phasing out single-use plastic bags which was initially to be phased out in July.

But after significant customer backlash the supermarket continues to hand out free reusable plastic bags which normally cost 15 cents each.

They will continue to give customers free bags until after the Little Shop campaign is scheduled to end on August 28.

But in the supermarket's terms and conditions it said the marketing ploy to hand out plastic could be extended at any time.

"Coles may decide at its absolute discretion to extend or otherwise amend the campaign period."

Coles will continue to give customers free bags until after the Little Shop campaign is scheduled to end on August 28. Picture: AAP
Coles will continue to give customers free bags until after the Little Shop campaign is scheduled to end on August 28. Picture: AAP

The director of environmental group Boomerang Alliance's spokesman Jeff Angel criticised Coles and said they have "embraced the throw away culture."

"The marketing ploy has blinded the company to what environmentally responsible behaviour should be,'' he said.

"Already shoppers would have dumped the plastic in which the so-called mini collectables were packaged and in the future there will be a wave of dumped collectables."

This week Coles' chief number cruncher Anthony Gianotti conceded the banning of bags had hurt its bottom line.



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