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That decision copped flak from shoppers struggling to do not forget to bring their own bags and on Wednesday the supermarket was roundly slammed by environmentalists and customers after announcing it would be giving away free plastic bags at the checkout indefinitely.

Instead, they began offering more environmentally-friendly reusable bags for 15 Aus cents (11 United States cents) each, with Coles supplying them without charge until August 1 to help people adjust to the new regime.

Coles managing director John Durkan announced complimentary plastic bags would cease being handed out on August 29, in an email sent out to his 115,00 staff on Thursday.

"Listen, this is common sense, it reestablishes competition and it says that the customer is always right".

"We've been delighted to see customers grow more accustomed to bringing their reusable bags from home so they are relying less on complimentary bags at the checkout".

Deans said numerous surveys had shown plastic bag bans were overwhelmingly popular with customers and that while a small minority of people initially struggled they quickly adapted to the change.

Coles has done a double backflip on its free plastic bags with the supermarket saying customers will start paying for the bags after August 29.

Customers will continue to get rewarded with 30 free Flybuys points at the checkout if they keep in mind to come armed with their own bags.

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The supermarket was criticised by shoppers and environmental groups following Wednesday's announcement.

Coles and its rival Woolworths removed thin "single-use" plastic bags from their checkouts nationwide in July and late June, respectively, as a growing number of Australian state governments ban the environmentally damaging items.

"Giving away reusable plastic bags is an environmental disaster, this just increases the amount of plastic that will now make its way into our waterways", he said in a statement on Wednesday.

"They have a very limited life and the removal of the price signal also means they are more likely to be littered - something we warned about".

Coles recently came under fire after launching its Little Shop marketing campaign, releasing a range of plastic miniature versions of popular products like Nutella, Vegemite and Weet-Bix.

In Australia, they said, "get stuffed, there is no way I am bringing my bag in and I'm not going to pay 15 cents".

July 8 - The weekend that both Coles and Woolworths extended the free bag until.