AUSTRALIA – Melbourne-based supermarket chain, Coles has revealed plans to replace single-use plastic bags with certified biodegradable bags in the fresh produce in all South Australian shops.

These new bags, crafted from renewable materials like corn starch, can be placed in green bins or used for home composting.

In a single year, these bags are expected to eliminate 28 million plastic produce bags from circulation, the company said in a news release.

The move precedes new statewide regulations banning plastic produce bags and aligns with South Australia’s mission to curb the use of environmentally harmful single-use plastics.

Coles Group Chief Operations and Sustainability Officer Matt Swindells expressed how this decision would reduce landfill waste and encourage better food waste recycling.

“South Australia’s gold standard waste and recycling collection system has allowed us to take this positive step to offer our customers a compostable solution in fresh produce in all stores across the state,” said Swindells.

He also emphasized that these compostable bags could also be repurposed in kitchen food waste caddies, reducing the need to purchase additional bags.

Acting Premier of South Australia and Environment Minister Susan Close commended Coles for offering an eco-friendly alternative for fresh produce bags. The bags, marked with the ‘Seedling logo,’ signify compliance with Australian compostability standards.

In addition to providing free compostable bags, Coles offers customers the option to purchase a three-pack of reusable mesh produce bags, which have been reduced in price from $3 to $1.50 as part of their ‘Great Value, Hands Down’ campaign.

This initiative follows Coles’ recent removal of soft plastic bags both in-store and online, eliminating 230 million plastic bags from circulation in a year.

To further minimize problematic plastic packaging, Coles has expanded its Bring Your Own Container (BYOC) initiative to all South Australian stores.

This allows customers to select Deli department products packed into their own containers, reducing home plastic waste.

Meanwhile, in May, the supermarket axed plastic openings from some of its home-brand tissue boxes to minimize its use of plastic packaging.

Coles says the initiative will remove 13 tonnes of plastic annually from circulation. The company has calculated the figure based on unit sales for the 52-week period until June 2022.

The change will also allow the cardboard tissue boxes to be placed directly into paper recycling bins without having to remove the plastic material.

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