Outraged shoppers ask Coles how latest collectables promotion helps the environment

Supermarket giant Coles has come under fire for a new promotion rewarding customers with plastic food containers.

People have slammed the retailer over concerns for the environment, suggesting the new promotion was counterproductive to its removal of single-use plastic bags.

The controversial offering baffled consumers in a similar way to its Little Shop promotion last year, which involved shoppers collecting small plastic toys.

Coles announced customers would earn “container credits” from Wednesday onwards when they spent $20 or more, which could be redeemed for 600ml to 1.5L containers.

Despite backlash from frustrated customers over the promotion, Coles was confident the containers would help people reduce their overall waste.

The Coles Fresh Food Container Program was designed to help Australians reduce food and single-use plastic waste at home. Source: Coles Group
The Coles Fresh Food Container Program was designed to help Australians reduce food and single-use plastic waste at home. Source: Coles Group

“We know our customers are passionate about minimising food waste and looking for ways to reduce the amount of plastic in their homes,” a spokesperson told Yahoo News.

“These containers can be used again and again to keep food fresh, while reducing the need to use single-use freezer bags and cling wrap.”

Many shoppers had conflicting views however, arguing the supermarket could find better ways to promote waste reduction.

“Instead of plastic containers as an incentive, perhaps introduce muslin/cotton reusable bags for bagging fresh produce,” someone shared to the store’s Facebook page.

Another person had some questions for the marketing team, asking: “How will your up-coming container scheme help to reduce plastic waste? I would presume that most households already have plastic re-usable containers.

The supermarket said there were five different containers to collect, plus a vacuum pump that removed air so they could be tightly sealed. Source: Facebook
The supermarket said there were five different containers to collect, plus a vacuum pump that removed air so they could be tightly sealed. Source: Facebook

“Why are you promoting this? Can they be used at the deli counter instead of the single-use containers?,” they said.

Someone else wrote, “Giving people plastic containers is a crock, and an insult to our intelligence on the war against plastic.”

Several more agreed, with another saying: “This seems great in theory - but it’s just more plastic isn’t it? Sort of defeats the purpose of the plastic bag ban.

“It’s reusable - so that’s definitely a plus but what would be even better is if we could “claim” reusable cotton bags for our fresh produce and get rid of those pesky single use bags.”

A disgruntled shopper also asked, “You get rid of single use plastic bags only to replace them with plastic toy give aways and now plastic containers? How is this supporting the environment?.”

From Wednesday, customers could start earning “container credits” when they spent $20 or more at supermarkets. Source: Coles Group
From Wednesday, customers could start earning “container credits” when they spent $20 or more at supermarkets. Source: Coles Group

In extensive post to Coles’ Facebook page, a particularly peeved shopper wrote, “What is going on? Does your marketing team live under a rock? The biggest concern of Australians at the moment is the environment.”

They didn’t hesitate on making some suggestions, saying, “How about leading Australia’s supermarkets and the consumers down a road where our children have a planet that they can be proud of.”

Coles maintained its new promotion had been well received by customers who were “passionate about minimising food waste and looking for ways to reduce the amount of plastic in their homes”.

“The containers from Dutch designers RoyalVKB are made from durable polypropylene and are microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe, as well as being BPA-free,” Coles said.

“At the end of their long life they can be recycled in your kerbside recycling bin.”

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