Woolworths: Don’t be bagging us
"WE want customers to bring in their own bags" says Woolworths after Queenslanders accuse the supermarket giant of trying to turn a profit by charging for bags following the state government's plastic bag ban.
Woolworths has strenuously denied earning profit from selling 15 cent heavy duty plastic bags and 99 cent 'green' bags, claiming the plastic option is provided at cost-price, while money from the 'green' bags will be donated to Junior Landcare programs.
Head of Sustainability at Woolworths Adrian Cullen actively encouraged shoppers to bring their own, and said the in-store options were mostly there for people who had forgotten to pack some.
However the move has still drawn criticism from some shoppers who are calling for a return to more traditional packaging.
"Bring back paper bags," says Sophie Coulton, while Christine Mulcahy Doherty agreed.
"Why not just replace with brown paper sacks like they do in the US?" she asked, "even happy to pay extra for them, these bags are still plastic only we get to pay for them."
Keith Ogden said he remembers when supermarkets would use newspaper as packaging.
"Before plastic bags, the supermarkets provided free paper bags and wrapped frozen items in newspaper so that they would not wet the bag. Why can't they go back to that?" he asked.
Others have called for free cardboard boxes to be offered in-store, including Larne Nelson who said it used to be the norm.
"Go back to Franklins days of the 80s 90s they had huge tables and large cardboard box bins out the front, you take your trolley and get some boxes and load them up no plastic required.
"The boxes then either got used at home for storing items and or used to hold recycled items that us kids had to take too the bin," he said.
Some shoppers have taken issue with the amount of plastic still used to wrap everything from bakery goods to fresh fruit, and Woolworths has promised it is working to reduce in-store packaging.
It has announced plans to cut the amount of plastic used on fresh produce, along with another 80 lines across the store within the next year.
Woolworths will also begin offering soft plastic recycling bins in all stores by the end of June, giving customers the chance to recycle used lollies packets, frozen food bags, pasta and biscuit packaging which will be turned into things like outdoor furniture.
THE COURIER-MAIL QUIZZED WOOLWORTHS ON SOME OF THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS SINCE THE BAN WAS INTRODUCED.
Why are lightweight bags banned, but heavier ones are still okay?
We're now offering customers a new 15c reusable bag that is made from at least 80 per cent recycled material. They're much more durable and stronger than the lightweight bags so customers can use them multiple times. Customers can recycle these bags via our soft plastics program, REDcycle, which will be rolled out to all stores nationally by the end of month.
Do I have to use Woolies bags in store or can I use bags from other supermarkets?
Customers are welcome to bring any bags they like into our stores, so long as they're clean and hygienic for our teams to handle.
How will staff know if you've brought bags from home or if you've picked them up in store?
Customers have been bringing reusable bags into our stores for a number of years now, and many choose to label these with their name or initials using a permanent marker. We know the vast majority of our customers do the right thing.
Do I have to use a bag or can I repack loose items into my trolley to take to the car?
Customers are welcome to pack items into a trolley without using bagsand take them to their cars for unloading.
Is this an introductory offer and are there plans to increase the cost of reusable bags in the near future?
We have no plans to change the prices of our reusable bags.
What happens if I my green eco bags get damaged?
The Bag for Good is an unprecedented offering for our customers when it comes to reusable bags. It costs 99 cents and when it gets damaged, we will replace it for free, no matter when they bought it from us. We'll also make sure the raw materials are put to good use via our Redcycle program.
But the 'good' doesn't stop there. Any money made from the sale of the Woolworths Bag for Good will fund the Junior Landcare grants program, encouraging young Australians to play an active role in ensuring the sustainable future of their environment.
Ultimately though we want customers to bring in their own bags. That's when we'll start having the most positive impact on the planet, which is what the move is all about.
Does Woolies have plans to cut plastic in other areas of the store (eg. fresh produce)?
As announced on World Environment Day, Woolworths has also committed to removing unnecessary packaging in produce and will trial the removal of plastic packaging on a further 80 lines over the next year. This will build on the 140 tonnes of plastic saved in the fruit and vegetables range in the last year. We also announced that we will cease the sales of plastic straws in all stores across the Woolworths Group by the end of this year