Woolworths and Coles have both announced they will ban single use plastic bags, straws and other plastic items, apparently in response to customer demand.
In the old days a customer who didn’t want something would not buy it. The modern customer tries to stop other people from buying such products. Imagine a supermarket which stocked only those products which all of its customers wanted to buy – it would have a very limited range; certainly no meat, fish, eggs, dairy products since the vegans would see to that. Is that where we are headed? Today the humble plastic bag and straw, tomorrow the disposable nappy and so forth.
The Chief Executive of Woolworths, Brad Banducci, has said [in today’s Australian]
the four main issues customers cared about were food waste, reducing plastic, a sustainable supply chain and energy efficiency.
The four issues I care about are freshness, quality, price and food safety.
So how does Banducci discover what customers want? Why doesn’t he sell meat in paper bags? Sell old fruit rather than throwing it out? Reduce the lighting and heating/cooling in supermarkets to reduce energy consumption? Raise prices dramatically to pay farmers more to build that sustainable supply chain? Insist that customers prove their pantries and fridges are empty before allowing them the privilege of buying from Woolworths? Because apparently Woolworths customers want that. Who cares if people suffer food poisoning if we’re saving the planet?
Or is it that customers actually don’t want to ban these things? Is the CEO jumping on a bandwagon to prove his environmental credentials? Yet another example of a CEO trying to stake out the moral high ground and belong to that ‘enlightened’ group of people who can look down at the ‘little people’ who care about things such as price.