Woolworths reveals response to Coles' single-use plastic ban

Woolworths has revealed its next move following competitor Coles' announcement on Tuesday that single-use plastic tableware products will cease being sold from July 1.

The supermarket fell short of specifying a date it would phase out its entire range of unnecessary plastics, instead telling Yahoo News Australia the items would be replaced by sustainable options in the "near future".

"As we continue to phase out unnecessary plastics, our customers can expect to see disposable plastic tableware replaced with an expanded range of sustainable alternatives in the near future," a spokesperson said.

The supermarket will have no choice but to comply with a single-use plastic ban set to take effect in South Australia from Monday next week.

"We’re working on a phased transition with our suppliers starting in South Australia where we’ve recently removed disposable plastic cutlery, cups, bowls and plates," the spokesperson said.

Woolworths store pictured.
Woolworths will be the last supermarket to phase out single-use plastics. Source: Getty Images

Woolworths brand products in all stores will be "completely recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2023", they said.

The retailer stopped selling plastic straws in 2018 and, alongside Coles, stopped providing free single use plastic bags in 2018 as well.

Woolworths will be the last of the three main supermarkets to ban single-use plastics, with Aldi spearheading the charge to ban them by the end of 2020.

Aldi has already stopped selling “problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics” including plastic straws, plastic disposable tableware and plastic stemmed cotton buds.

The items were pulled from shelves in all stores nationwide under a plan revealed in 2019, which also featured a commitment to reduce plastic packaging by 25 per cent by 2025.

Woman in a supermarket aisle of single-use plastic.
Aldi has already removed single-use plastic from sale, and Coles will have by July 1. Source: Getty Images

Coles said on Tuesday removing the items, including plastic cups, plates, bowls, straws and cutlery, from supermarket shelves would divert 1.5 million kilograms of plastic from landfills annually.

The move effects all Coles Supermarkets, Coles Express outlets and Coles Liquor stores. Customers will instead be offered a range of reusable cutlery and tableware products.

“Removing all single-use tableware from our stores is central to our ambition to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket,” Coles CEO Steven Cain said.

“As a company, we already divert 79 per cent of our waste from landfill and have recycled more than 1 billion pieces of flexible plastic with the support of REDcycle and our customers, since 2011.”

The transition to reusable items will be complete by July 1 across the country.

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