Coles offered them through July and then yesterday announced an "indefinite" extension to the giveaway, which in turn sparked an additional backlash from recycling advocates who said the lack of value in the bags would effectively turn them into single use.
It drew a furious response, dubbed "bag rage", as customers angry about having to bring their own sacks or pay 15 Australian cents (11 USA cents) for a reusable plastic bag abused checkout staff and vented on social media.
That decision copped flak from shoppers struggling to keep in mind 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.
Coles' backdown infuriated environmental lobby group Greenpeace, which said the supermarket's decision was bad for the planet.
Both leading supermarkets giants removed single-use plastic bags on July 1 in stores in Victoria, NSW, Queensland and Western Australia following a major backlash, but ended up handing out reusable bags for free.
Anyway, here we are: you can get your free plastic bags from Coles until Wednesday, August 29, at which point it's time to suck it up and bring your own bags or pay the (15 cent) price.
"We now renew our call to Gladys Berejiklian and the State Government to enforce a ban of single-use plastic bags immediately".
Many customers have expressed their disappointment at the backflip.
Customers will continue to get rewarded with 30 free Flybuys points at the checkout if they do not forget to come armed with their own bags.
A man carries a Coles supermarket plastic bag as he walks along rocks at Dee Why Beach, located in the northern beaches suburbs of Sydney, Australia, July 31, 2018.
"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".
"It's interesting because the ban on single-use bags came as a result of pressure from customers and people calling for companies to take responsibility and stop using plastic bags".
Director of environmental group Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel labelled the Coles' latest decision a "weak act".
Now, thicker reusable bags which had previously cost 15 cents each will be handed out for free.
"Our focus is on continuing to help all our customers form new and sustainable habits".
Woolworths has confirmed it won't be following Coles' lead.