Coles has reversed its decision to stop providing free plastic bags to shoppers, saying some need more time to adjust to the switch to buying reusable bags.

The supermarket giant has been handing out bags to customers in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia since July 1 when it brought in a ban on single-use plastic bags and told customers they’d have to pay for reusable bags.

Coles was meant to stop providing its reusable Better Bags for free on August 1 and start charging customers 15 cents per bag, but has now backflipped on that decision.

A spokeswoman says when the ban on single-use plastic bags came in, some customers said they needed more time to transition to reusable bags.

“We’ve been delighted to see customers grow more accustomed to bringing their reusable bags from home so they are relying less on complimentary bags at the checkout,” she said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Many customers bringing bags from home are still finding themselves short a bag or two so we are offering complimentary reusable Better Bags to help them complete their shopping.”


Coles and rival Woolworths both recently banned single-use plastic bags and began selling reusable bags instead.

Coles originally said it would provide its Better Bags, made from 80 per cent recycled material, for free until July 8 to help customers adjust.

But Coles then decided to extend the giveaway of free reusable bags until August 1.

Woolworths also offered customers free reusable bags until July 8.

Both supermarket chains had faced a backlash from some shoppers after their bans on single-use plastic bags were introduced as part of a national push to reduce plastic waste.

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