Photo that outraged Woolies’ customers
A Woolworths customer has sparked a fierce debate after sharing a photo of milk bottles heavily wrapped in plastic - during Plastic Free July.
The Melbourne man captured the image recently at a Woolies store at the Pacific Epping centre.
He shared it on the Woolworths Facebook page, and asked the supermarket to explain why it was using heat shrink wrap instead of normal, environmentally-friendly milk crates.
Speaking with news.com.au anonymously, he said it was an especially "strange" move given the rise of the anti-plastic movement and Woolworths' high-profile decision to ban single-use plastic bags last year.
He also speculated whether the plastic wrapping was recycled - or simply thrown in the bin.
"I wouldn't say I was angered but I was confused and surprised as to why this change has been implemented," he told news.com.au.
"I thought they were still using the plastic crates which can be used many, many times, whereas the heat shrink plastic wrap can be used once and then may be recycled.
"If it's the right material, and then if it's done correctly at a store level, I just think it's a strange move considering the anti-plastic movement at the moment."
The picture sparked debate among fellow social media users, with many pointing out the wrapping method would actually make it harder for staff members to carry out their jobs.
However, a Woolworths spokeswoman told news.com.au the supermarket giant was not behind the decision.
"Like all supermarkets, we receive milk as the supplier packs and distributes it," the spokeswoman said.
"Once the goods are received we're careful to ensure any packaging is recycled in the appropriate way."
But it's not the first time the company has come under fire for its use of plastic.
In May, a photo of "$3 Kids Bananas" sold at both Coles and Woolworths was shared on Reddit.
The Coles products were wrapped by a small label, while the Woolworths fruit were sold in plastic bags, instantly angering Reddit users.
"If only bananas had their own natural packaging …" one Reddit user wrote, while another posted: "We are 0.01 per cent of living species on the planet and we cause 80 per cent of the damage to the environment, when will consumers and customers learn?"
Last year, Woolworths promised to remove 3.2 billion single-use plastic bags from circulation as part of its sustainability efforts.
Rival Coles also banned the bags - but both retailers have also come under fire recently following their latest mini collectables campaigns.
This month, released the Little Shop 2 campaign with 30 new plastic mini groceries to collect, while Woolworths also unveiled its new Lion King-inspired "Ooshies", which it claims are made from an "FSC material" which can be made into plastic pellets.
Last weekend, an online petition emerged which urged Coles to "stop giving out plastic junk".
It has attracted tens of thousands of signatures, with petition creator Sara Coates claiming the new campaign proved the company "really (does) not care for our children's future".
"You are handing out plastic junk that will end up in landfill or in our oceans," she wrote.