It’s the debate that just won’t go away and Wednesday night’s episode of The Project turned into a heated discussion over Coles’ decision to continue handing out reusable bags for free.
While many people including Waleed Aly are all for the plastic bag ban, The Project co-host Steve Price has been against the move. Price praised Coles’ decision to continue giving out plastic bags to customers for free. In fact, he’s spoken on a number of occasions about how upset he was over the ban in the first place.
“They’re back, the bags are back,” he said cheekily during a segment on The Project. “Listen, this is common sense, it re-establishes competition and says that the customer is always right.
“Coles decided to ban those bags and their customers said we don’t like it, we want them back. And now you’ve got a choice.”
He then took aim at Aly and others who have been complaining about Coles’ choice to continue hanging out bags.
“Waleed can go to Woolies, he can go to IGA, he can go to Aldi,” he continued. “I can go to Coles and we’re all happy.”
Unhappy, Aly hit back at his co-host.
“As if you do your own shopping,” he said.
Dee Madigan, Creative Designer at Campaign Edge, also appeared on the show and also got into a heated debate with Price over his views. She described the move by Coles as a “cynical ploy” to gain short-term advantage over its competitors.
“We know that every survey done shows people support the ban on plastic bags, as they should,” she said. “We’ve got a mountain of plastic in the ocean that’s the size of Queensland and the backlash against Coles on this will be huge, because there’s a dollar value attached to ethical behaviour.”
She claimed there was outrage online and that the government would have to come in and make plastic bags a government ban. Price didn’t agree.
“Dee, it’s the keyboard warriors but what about the people who actually go and do the shopping?” he asked. “You talk about plastic bags in the ocean. Yeah, that’s in south-east Asia, it’s not here. How many people in Dubbo are killing porpoises with plastic bags? None.”
His comments angered Madigan further. She said 10 million plastic bags end up in New South Wales in the environment every year, although Price said she was incorrect.
“That’s rubbish,” he said. “Absolute rubbish.”
She said the change needed to start somewhere, although Price pointed out the change had started at Woolworths, IGA and Aldi.
“Now if you want to be an environmental greenie, you can go to those supermarkets, if you don’t, you can go to Coles,” he continued. “If Coles have got this wrong, Coles are going to have a problem. Their customers are going to disappear and their business will go out of business. But you know, as I know, with your experience in advertising, that won’t happen.”
Again, Madigan disagreed, and told Price it would happen because the government would be forced to step in. Carrie Bickmore interrupted and said that even people in favour of the ban have had trouble adjusting to taking their own bags to supermarkets.
“People are only going to change when they have to start paying the 15 cents,” Madigan said. “That’s what’s going to make it happen. What we know is in the states where it has happened, in say the ACT, people are more in favour of the ban two years after it’s happened because they’re used to it. It’s no big deal but at some point, it has to start.”