NSW faces fresh calls to ban plastic bags

A shopper is seen carrying a reusable plastic bag from Coles

Just one day after the supermarket giant confirmed it would offer customers free plastic bags indefinitely, a cut-off date for the complimentary bags has now been set. "We ask all shoppers to let Coles know that this is not what shoppers want by saying NO to plastic at the checkout".

The email, seen by news.com.au, confirms the supermarket is extending the free bag offer until August 29.

In a statement, Coles managing director John Durkan said the transition had been hard for customers.

"It's interesting because the ban on single-use bags came as a result of pressure from customers and people calling for companies to take responsibility and stop using plastic bags".

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

Woolworths also offered customers free reusable bags until July 8.

The Australian supermarket giant said shoppers "need more time to make the transition to reusable bags".

Jon Dee, who started the National Plastic Bag Campaign in 2002, said Coles' decision was odd.

While customers had been growing more and more accustomed to bringing reusable bags, many were still finding themselves one or two short at the register.

Deans said numerous surveys had shown plastic bag bans were overwhelmingly popular with customers and that while a small minority of people initially struggled they quickly adapted to the change.

It said the decision would only be bad for the environment - a fear echoed by many on social media.

"I feel like we don't treat consumers with enough respect because I think they really understand we're trying to avoid the creation of waste, avoid the use of plastic", she said.

Greenpeace described Coles as irresponsible and disappointing.

On Wednesday, Coles said it would continue handing out thicker reusable plastic bags for free - which had previously been sold for 15 cents each - as customers make the transition from single-use plastic bags to reusable bags.

NSW Labor and the Greens called on Premier Gladys Berejiklian to introduce a state-wide ban on single use bags.

"These so-called reusable plastic bags are nearly as thin as the banned lightweight ones, " he said.

'They have a very limited life and the removal of the price also means they are more likely to be littered - something we warned about, ' he told the Herald Sun.

Woolworths surveyed 12,500 customers in May about the phasing out of single-use bags and found that 75 per cent supported the move, 15 per cent did not support it, and 10 per cent were unsure about it.

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