Coles has done a double backflip on its free plastic bags and will recommence charging customers for them after coming under fire from green groups and consumers for giving them away for free.

The supermarket giant yesterday decided to provide its thick reusable bags for free indefinitely instead of charging them 15 cents each as part of its program to ban single-use plastic bags.

But after a barrage of criticism, managing director John Durkan says customers will have to start paying for them after August 29.

“We are extending our complimentary bag offer until Wednesday 29 August for our customers in QLD, NSW, VIC and WA,” Mr Durkan said.

“I appreciate this transition phase is taking longer than anticipated but it is absolutely the right thing to do by our customers.

“As you would have experienced first-hand in stores, this has been a big and difficult change for many of our customers.”

Environmental groups, most vocally Greenpeace, heaped criticism on Coles as did many shoppers.

The company’s rival, Woolworths, recently banned single-use plastic bags as did the smaller Harris Farms Markets.

Harris Farms CEO Angus Harris urged Woolworths and Coles to maintain their ban noting he understood how difficult phasing out bags had been for his company.


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