Today’s announcement by Coles that it will no longer give out free plastic collectible toys to shoppers is a welcome recognition of their cost in long lasting pollution and consumer concern.
The PR people tried to justify this practice by claiming they can be recycled, but it was a weak argument as inevitably the vast majority of the toys are either littered or dumped in landfill – with their environmental impacts lasting centuries. It’s a good sign that Coles is having a root and branch review of its plastic practices, including no longer selling single use plastic tableware.
Leadership is important and we urge all retail and marketing companies to now switch away from plastic in their collectible wars. The claim an item may be "recyclable" is a theoretical statement but we know that in practice, only 13% of all plastic is actually recycled, after years of failed voluntary business promises. It’s time to regulate to ban such items as single use pollutants and adopt truly compostable materials.
Single use plastic has become so ingrained in the marketplace, that business, government and the community will need to keep up the pace on eliminating it, so we can stop the toxic tide of plastic pollution.