Green Bags slighted on 12-items-or-less

Rachel Pieris and Andrew Stewart

Employees at a major supermarket are not enforcing any policies on plastic bags, and failing to encourage the use of environmentally friendly Green Bags.

Photo by Vieux Bandit

Photo by Vieux Bandit

Cashiers at the 12-items-or-less section of Coles at Broadway were observed placing less than three items into plastic bags and not encouraging the Green Bags option, an action that is against the Australian Retailers Association recommended code of conduct that Coles has signed on to.

Store duty manager, Riasat Kamal, 31, said: “We need more communication with our staff – although we have reached our goal of reducing plastic bag usage by 50% since a year and a half ago.”

During half-an-hour of transactions, the only time Green Bags were used was when the customer asked or provided their own. On all occasions, the cashier put the items straight into a plastic bag without asking or offering a green bag.

“Our green bags are displayed clearly at all major aisles,” Mr Kamal said. However, the green bags are not displayed at any of the twelve-items-or-less registers.

Despite Coles’ attempts to reduce plastic bags, the local community does not seem to be making good use of the Green Bag option.

Matthew McGregor, a carpenter from Ebenezer said: “When I go shopping my stuff is always put in plastic bags”.

University student, Rebecca Harper, 20, from Newtown, agrees. “If I forget to bring my own bag then I just end up bombarded with plastic bags,” she said.

Woolworths appears to be making more of an effort than Coles. Eva Nurray, 43, a mother from Enmore and regular shopper at Woolworths Newtown, has noticed an improvement. “I do try and take my own bag and catch public transport,” she said.

Olive Jarvis, a 70-year-old retiree from Glebe, has been bringing her own bag for many years because environmental protection is taken seriously in her family. “I’m a big believer in climate change,” she said. “My father is a fisherman and he noticed changes in the fishing conditions at Nowra over many years.”


Observations at the 12-items-or-less aisle at Coles Broadway
Transaction Number of items Asked if customer wanted plastic bag? Were the items put automatically in plastic bag?
#1 3 No Yes
#2 6 No Yes
#3 5 No Yes
#4 2 No Yes
#5 1 No Yes
#6 1 No Yes
#7 1 No Yes (customer asked if item could not be in a plastic bag)
#8 3 No Yes
#9 7 No Yes (customer asked if items could be put straight into his own green bag)
#10 6 No Yes
#11 2 Yes No
#12 1 Yes No
#13 2 No Yes


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