On Tuesday, Coles cheerily announced their new 'Fresh Food Container Program', claiming it will 'help customers reduce food and plastic waste at home, helping their household budget and the environment at the same time.'
To break it down, from Wednesday April 24, Coles patrons will earn ‘container credits’ when they spend $20 or more to be redeemed for a range of five different reusable storage containers from 600mL to 1.5 litres, as well as a specially-designed vacuum pump that removes air to tightly seal the containers, which at the end of their life 'can be recycled in the kerbside bin.'
'We know our customers want to reduce food waste for environmental and family budget reasons and these reusable containers are a great way to keep food fresh in the fridge or pantry without the need for more single-use plastic,” said Coles Chief Operating Officer Greg Davis.
'Coles has removed 1.2 billion single-use plastic bags from circulation since we phased them out of our stores last year, and since 2011 we have diverted more than 542 million pieces of flexible plastic from landfill through our recycling partnership with REDcycle.'
But when questioned by Boomerang Alliance on the range's suitability for refill at in-store purchase, a spokesperson confirmed they, or any other containers could not be used 'because of the health and safety risk.'
Boomerang Alliance is ultimately skeptical of this new initiative.
'Coles has had a burst of media today about its program of refunding points for plastic reusable food containers for home storage. It's a pretty unimportant move, not worthy of any great acclaim", said Jeff Angel, Director of the Boomerang Alliance.
'Sure, it might encourage some to obtain the new, vacuum sealing containers - but really, Coles should be attacking its plague of over-packaging and lack of recycled content.
Mr Angel added Coles and the other big supermarket chains also still have to answer the big question about the net impact of the plastic bag ban.
'Even though they are not giving out the lightweight bags - how many of the heavier weight ones are sold and disposed to landfill and in the environment? Anecdotal evidence is that they are not really reusable and are treated as single-use bags," he said.
'Greenwash won't solve the plastic pollution crisis.'
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