Coles has come under fire for the return of its “Little Shop” promotion, which consumers and environmentalists have slammed as wasteful.
The controversial collectables from last year are set to return to Coles supermarkets next week, with a range of 30 new miniature products to be distributed wrapped in plastic “blind bag” packaging, meaning customers can’t see what’s inside.
A Change.org petition, which has attracted around 30,000 signatures at time of writing, calls on consumers to boycott Coles. Sara Coates, the organiser, accused the supermarket giant of “really not caring for our children’s future”.
“This is when most people are doing their best to bring their own bags, choosing less packaging on their food and saying no to straws. Here you are handing out plastic junk that will end in landfill or in our oceans,” said Coates.
“This is a slap in the face for all people who care about the future of our planet. It’s time to think of our children and what their future will look like with all this unnecessary plastic.”
Rebecca Gilling, deputy CEO of Planet Ark, said that her organisation works with Coles to reduce plastic packaging, but has no influence on the Little Shop giveaway.
“We are very much in support of reducing the use of unnecessary single use items. We follow the waste hierarchy which has an avoid and reduce ahead of reuse and recycle priority,” she told News Corp.
Coles has defended the promotion, saying it had been “inundated” with requests to bring Little Shop back. According to one spokesperson, 94 per cent of customers who collected minis last year had either kept them or given them to family and friends rather than throwing them out, and the packaging is recyclable.
“The campaign only runs for a limited time and customers who choose to collect them are able to recycle the wrappers at their nearest Coles through our in-store RedCycle program. For Coles online deliveries, mini collectable packaging can be returned to the driver, and recycled through the RedCycle program – one of the largest retailer-operated recycling programs of its type in Australia.
“As part of our commitment to better environmental outcomes, RedCycle allows customers to recycle soft plastics in provided bins at their nearest Coles store to be repurposed into outdoor furniture for pre-schools and primary schools,” the spokesperson said.