Despite being a move to help with a global crisis, Aldi customers are less than impressed at a change to the packaging on a favorite lunch box.
A photo of a child’s juice box has sparked an unexpected war of words among social media users over a controversial detail.
The school lunch box staple recently underwent a makeover at Aldi, with the supermarket switching out its plastic straws for a paper version.
But when an Australian mother took to Facebook to praise the move on the brand’s Westcliff Tropical Fruit Drink, her post was flooded with angry parents who blasted the eco-friendly alternative.
“No plastic straws, paper ones. Good on you Aldi,” the NSW-based woman wrote in the Aldi Fans Facebook group.
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However her enthusiasm wasn’t met with the same response from many, as some labeled the new paper straw “horrid”, claiming it becomes “soggy” and “useless” as the liquid passes through.
“I understand the want to get rid of plastic. But the texture of these is awful,” one person wrote.
“We discovered this today. My son said, ‘Yuck this is gross.’ I’ll have to source some plastic ones,” another said.
“Cannot stand paper straws – they are useless,” one mother wrote.
The criticism continued with many stating “paper straws suck” as well as adding: “Won’t be buying these now.”
Poppers are commonly sold in UHT cartons, containers made from paperboard with a thin plastic layer on the exterior and interior of the carton to keep the liquid from seeing through.
This form of packaging also has a very thin aluminum foil layer on the interior to keep the contents fresh for long periods of time.
Because of this, some argued the move to paper straws made no sense to them when the product wasn’t plastic-free.
“UHT cartons cannot be recycled. So replacing the plastic straw with a paper one is like crapping your pants and changing your shirt,” one reasoned.
“Aren’t these plastic lined cartons? Anyone who is seriously concerned about plastic straws, should really be using a reusable drink bottle,” another agreed.
Many supported the move, branding those who were unhappy with the change “lazy”.
“I love how people carry on about this. It’s out of sheer laziness. If you don’t like paper straws buy your own and pop it in your bag or car … Or use the one built into your face,” one woman suggested.
“Hopefully our mindset is changing and the big grocery stores come down harder on the suppliers and their packaging. No straw? No problem. Take the lid off and use it as you do every other cup in your life … As a cup,” another added.
And one mum wrote: “Great job Aldi and for those of you saying you won’t buy anymore. Coles and Woolworths will soon follow.”
Aldi became the first supermarket in Australia to ditch plastic straws on the popular lunch box staple – stating it was beginning a national rollout in December, starting on the Westcliff Tropical Fruit Drink.
Aldi Australia’s buying director for drinks Dan Warner said the decision was a “no-brainer” for the supermarket at the time.
“Juice boxes are a regular in kids’ lunch boxes and we are exceptionally proud to start offering poppers with less plastic at the same low price,” he said.
“Parents on a mission to reduce household waste and their environmental impact can now have peace of mind knowing the drink in their child’s lunch box contains less plastic, and they aren’t sacrificing convenience or worrying about any impact to their back pockets.”
The removal of plastic straws is part of Aldi’s commitment to reduce its use of plastic by 25 per cent by 2025.
Last year, Aldi became the first major supermarket to remove single-use plastic picnicware from shelves, a move it estimates has saved 322 tonnes of plastic from landfill.
It has also replaced the stem on cotton buds from plastic to paper.
Aldi said the paper straws on its poppers have gone through “extensive quality assurance testing” and are designed to “puncture packets and maintain a strong shape without softening”.
Similar straw backlash
Aldi isn’t the only retail giant to cop backlash following a move from plastic to paper straws, with Macca’s copping it for the same reason in 2019.
The move was part of the company’s goal to source 100 per cent of its food packaging from “renewable, recycled or certified sources by 2025” as well as a plan to have packaging recycling in all restaurants around the world.
However many complained the straws were not sturdy enough and as a result, customers struggled with their drinks.
“Paper straws are OK but better paper quality not this one that is falling apart as soon as it’s touching liquid,” one Aussie said when the straws began rolling out here in 2020.
“The paper ones are useless, either keep plastic or just use your mouth,” another said.
One man also got quite bent out of shape over the change: “Paper straws go soggy, if they give me a paper straw I’ll slap them silly.”