Why Woolies’ plastic bags backflip is a joke
WOOLWORTHS has stopped giving away single-use plastic bags but one week later they are now giving out heavier plastic bags for free.
They're giving away bags that are made with more plastic than the single-use ones.
Bags that take longer to break down. Bags that are worse for the environment.
What a joke. It's an Olympic-grade backflip.
The supermarket giant says people haven't remembered to bring their own bags, or don't bring enough bags, and so it's about helping them out.
I'll bet it's got a lot more to do with them winning the PR war than doing the right thing by shoppers.
Woolworths and other retailers have been copping it for keeping the money they're collecting from the sale of 15c and 99c bags instead of donating it to environmental charities like they do in other countries.
It's a $70 million windfall that makes a mockery of their boasting about the environment.
Woolies has also been attracting abuse for the amount of plastic they use to wrap fresh fruit and veg.
If they really cared about the environment they'd stop encasing single cucumbers in plastic wrap, putting watermelon balls in silly plastic tubes and wrapping avocadoes.
And they would stop selling packs of single-sliced apples in plastic bags encased in other plastic bags.
Take one Facebooker who called the company a "greedy super-sized corporate".
"Get rid of the plastic bags, offer your customers free green bags for a month (no you will NOT lose!) and show people what you SHOULD stand for!" she wrote.
That post, which attracted a huge amount of abuse got more than 6000 comments and 4400 shares, so maybe - just maybe - the company listened.
Overnight the national chain announced they will hand out free bags to shoppers for ten days until July 8 - which surely is about little more than attracting positive press.
If the supermarkets keep handing out free bags - and as many as people want - then what's the point of banning bags in the first place?
I support the ban and want it to work - if it works at Aldi and Bunnings, then why not Woolies and Coles? But it has to be properly implemented with retailers sending consistent messages, not changing their mind every five seconds because of some bad publicity.
And they have to give any profits from the bag sales back to environmental charities.
- Susie O'Brien is a Herald Sun columnist