'A disgrace': Backlash after Coles releases new plastic collectables

The new Strikeez campaign. Source: Coles

Thousands of people have sent an email to the Coles CEO demanding an end to their latest promotion.

Months after coming under fire for the environmental effects of their Little Shop promotion, Coles supermarkets have launched another plastic collectable series marketed towards children. 

The new campaign allows shoppers to collect 24 small fruit or vegetable toys, called Stikeez, which they said aim to encourage kids to eat more natural foods.

For every $30 spent at Coles, shoppers will receive one of the cute characters - including Marie Mango, Kelly Kiwi and Sunny Strawberry - at random.

But not everyone is on board.

At the time of publishing, 7,850 people have sent an email to Coles CEO Steve Cain as part of a campaign calling for an end to the "wasteful Stikeez promotion".

"I was disgusted to see that Coles has embarked on another promotion involving useless and wasteful plastic items. Your Stikeez promotion will cause a legacy of plastic waste," the prefilled letter reads.

"Just like your 'Little Shop' promotion, these plastic items will find their way into creeks and the ocean injuring marine life, or will sit for thousands of years in landfill after they are inevitably thrown out."

On social media, some people have called to "boycott Coles" while others labelled the company "a disgrace".

A Coles spokesperson said Stikeez are collectable items designed to be kept and not disposed of. 

"This campaign is all about getting Aussie families excited about fruit and veg as part of the Coles Fresh Rainbow Challenge which can be used to help parents reward kids for eating healthy. Customers can choose not to receive them and for those who do, we hope they enjoy them for a long time."

The spokesperson added that the plastic wrapping could also be recycled. 

"As part of our commitment to better environmental outcomes, we offer recycling bins for soft plastics in our supermarkets. Through the REDcycle program, the recycled soft plastic material is turned into outdoor furniture for pre-schools and primary schools,"

Last year, Coles was criticised for its Little Shop promotion which saw people lining up for tiny replicas of household items. While it was widely considered a marketing success, many took aim at the environmental impact of the toys, given that the supermarket had recently banned plastic bags. 

In July last year, Jayne Paramor, Deputy Director of the Boomerang Alliance – a group who has been instrumental in calling for a nationwide ban on single-use plastics in Australia – said she was “disappointed” by the promotion.

“A lot of toys, the vast majority are made from virgin plastics. Without things like toy swaps and take back schemes, a lot end up in landfill," she said.

“From our perspective, it really shows there is a lack of focus on the sustainability side of some of these decisions that are being made.”

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