Coles permanently ends Little Shop collectables as part of new sustainability campaign

The wildly popular Little Shop collectables from Coles will be permanently ended as the supermarket giant vowed to stop handing out plastic toys as part of a new sustainability campaign.

The collectables were one of the most popular marketing campaigns undertaken by any retailer for years when it first was promoted by Coles in 2018.

The miniature collectables of popular groceries included favourite kids’ snacks such as Arnott’s Barbecue Shapes, Heinz Baked Beans, Maggi 2 Minute Noodles, Campbell’s Tomato Soup, Vegemite and the refreshing Eclipse Mints.

Coles recently stopped selling single-use plastic tableware and has also reviewed the sustainability of its marketing campaigns, including its plastic collectible toys.

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Coles chief marketing officer Lisa Ronson said while collectible toy programs like Little Shop and Stikeez have been popular with customers in the past, they no longer align with the supermarket’s sustainability ambitions.

“Coles has been in the lives and homes of Australians for more than 100 years and our unique position in Australia comes with responsibility,” she said

In a recent survey of 9000 customers, reducing waste to landfill and plastic packaging was the number one concern when it comes to environmental issues in retail, with 69 per cent of those surveyed saying it was of high importance to them, revealed Ms Ronson.

“We know that customers will understand the need to ensure our campaigns are more sustainable for future generations,” she said.

“Our ambition is to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket which means we need to be committed to reducing unnecessary plastic, and this extends throughout our business. We are committed to innovating when it comes to packaging so that where we can’t eliminate packaging and plastic, we are ensuring it’s contributing to the circular economy by being produced with recycled content where possible, as well as being recyclable.”

The collectables craze induced some embarrassing public displays with a mum throwing a tantrum after being refused a Coles Little Shop toy because she was 53 cents short of the needed in-store spend. Company policy dictated that one toy is handed over for every $30 spent.

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But Coles would continue rewards programs like its MasterChef cookware campaign which provides practical items for customers to use in their homes or more sustainable items such as last year’s popular Little Treehouse book series made from FSC certified paper.

As part of its pledge to make packaging more sustainable, Coles has removed 31 million soaker pads from meat trays this year, it revealed.

The supermarket has also committed to 100 per cent recycled packaging for some of its most popular in-store bakery items, such as cookies, donuts, danishes and muffins. This will change 60 million pieces of packaging a year and is expected to be introduced by the end of 2022 financial year.

In March, Coles announced new emissions targets including a commitment to be 100 per cent powered by renewable electricity by the end of financial year 2025.

It also flagged a joint feasibility study to determine the benefits of a local advanced recycling facility in Victoria. Advanced recycling offers new life to old soft plastic by turning it back into oil which can be used to produce new soft plastic food packaging.

Coles is celebrating 10 years working with food rescue organisation SecondBite and soft plastics recycler REDcycle.

Together Coles and SecondBite have helped provide the equivalent of more than 148 million meals to Australians in need and, with REDcycle, collected more than 1.5 billion pieces of soft plastics to be used in furniture, children’s playground equipment, roads and even Coles carparks.

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Author: Shirley