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Coles dumps Little Shop toys in push to cut plastics

Sarah Sharples, July 27, 2021 6:30PM news.com.au

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Little Shop miniature collectables have been ended permanently as Coles moves to reduce waste and become more sustainable. Picture: Nigel Hallett media_cameraLittle Shop miniature collectables have been ended permanently as Coles moves to reduce waste and become more sustainable. Picture: Nigel Hallett

environment

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The popular Little Shop collectables from Coles will be permanently ended, with the supermarket giant vowing* to stop handing out plastic toys as part of its push to become more sustainable*.

The collectables were a huge hit with Australian children after they were launched 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 Eclipse Mints.

The Little Shop miniature replicas were given away when shoppers spent a certain amount of money at the checkout. One toy was handed out for every $30 spent.

They were an instant hit, with groups even set up on social media to buy, swap and sell the toys. Rare Little Shop items were sold on online auction sites for huge prices.

Little Shop media_cameraThe Little Shop minis were a hit with children like Evie Clark. Picture: Justin Lloyd

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

Coles chief marketing officer Lisa Ronson said while collectable toy programs like Little Shop and Stikeez had been popular with customers in the past, they no longer aligned* 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.

Ms Ronson said reducing waste to landfill and plastic packaging was a top concern of Coles customers, with a recent survey of 9000 customers revealing 69 per cent rated it of high importance.

“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.”

Coles little shop figurines pic media_cameraThe Little Shop items came with a collector case. Picture: Liam Kidston

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

The supermarket has also committed to using 100 per cent recycled packaging for some of its most popular bakery items, such as cookies, doughnuts, danishes and muffins, by the middle of 2022.

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

The supermarket giant has also been 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, while more than 1.5 billion pieces of soft plastics have been collected and turned into furniture, children’s playground equipment, roads and carparks as part of the partnership with REDcycle.

GLOSSARY

  • vowing: promising
  • sustainable: to continue do something without harming the environment
  • marketing campaigns: things that are done to promote a company and increase sales
  • sustainability: the ability to do something without harming the environment
  • aligned: be the same or similar
  • ambitions: goals
  • pledge: promise
  • emissions: harmful gases that are produced and released into the environment
  • renewable: able to be replaced, does not run out
  • equivalent: equal to

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. When were the Little Shop collectables launched?
  2. Name two grocery items that were Little Shop collectables.
  3. How much did shoppers need to spend to get a Little Shop toy?
  4. Why has Coles announced the end of the Little Shop toys?
  5. What is the name of the food rescue organisation Coles is working with?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Sustainable actions
Create a table with three columns. Give the columns these headings: Completed, Planned and Future Possibilities.

Under the heading Completed write down all of the actions Coles has already taken to become more sustainable. Under the heading Planned write down all of the things it has committed to doing in the future. Finally, under the heading Future Possibilities list five or more ideas of your own that you think the supermarket could do to further improve its sustainability.

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Sustainability

2. Extension
Create a one-page display, showing an idea for an alternative promotion that Coles could run to replace the Little Shop collectables. Your idea could be aimed at children or grown-ups and should keep in mind the supermarket’s sustainability ambitions.

Time: allow 25 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Sustainability

VCOP ACTIVITY
Save Little Shop Collectables – Yes or No
What are your thoughts on Coles’ decision to ban plastic toys? Think of all the reasons for and against the decision, and consider other people’s opinions as well.

Based on your analysis, write a letter to Coles, either thanking them for the decision, or asking them to reconsider.

In your letter, be sure to include your case points and use emotive language to convey your feelings.

Extra Reading in environment