Together to zero waste

Environment Policy

We recognise the role we can play in reducing food waste and packaging, reflecting customers’ needs while making our operations more sustainable and efficient. By working with industry partners, suppliers and customers we aim to increase food security, reduce waste and overall, conserve our valuable resources.

Coles is committed to doing business in an environmentally responsible manner as detailed in our Environment PolicyOpens in new window.

Minimise food waste

During FY21, we announced our new target for the entire Coles Group to divert 85% of solid waste from landfill by FY25, while continuing our focus on reducing food waste We will continue to work with our team members on education and awareness, as well as maximising food waste diversion opportunities in stores to bring in services like packaged organics and expansion of the bread return program with Goodman Fielder.

As a food retailer, we love food and do not want it to go to waste. Every Coles supermarket and distribution centre is connected with a food waste solution, something we first achieved at the end of FY19. Our first choice for unsold, edible food is to donate it to food rescue organisations. Following that, we have other food waste solutions including donation to farmers and animal or wildlife services, organics collections and in-store food waste disposal equipment.

We partner with food rescue organisation SecondBite which collects unsold, edible food either directly from our supermarkets or organises for local charities to collect it on its behalf. In addition to collecting and redistributing food from our stores, SecondBite also collects food from our fresh and chilled distribution centres.

We also partner with Foodbank which collects from our grocery distribution centres across Australia.

We work with our Australian suppliers to reduce food waste and increase overall crop yields by using produce, which typically would not be sold in stores, in other products such as Own Brand zucchini noodles, sweet potato noodles, sweet potato chips, and broccoli and cauliflower rice, as well as the Own Brand range of banana-based products.

Our range of I’m Perfect fruit and vegetables celebrates produce that tastes great but may be flawed in appearance. The products are not only excellent value but also help to reduce food waste.

Support a circular economy

We have partnered with REDcycle since 2011, providing customers an option for soft plastic recycling in all Coles supermarkets nationally. We were the first major Australian supermarket to roll out the program to all stores.

Customers can recycle plastic bags as well as a wide range of other soft plastic packaging that cannot be recycled through most household kerbside recycling services.

Coles Online customers can give their soft plastics to their customer service agent who will return it for recycling through REDcycle.

Sustainable packaging

We understand our customers want us to reduce packaging and to make it easier for them to recycle.

We also know that packaging, including plastic packaging, plays a key role in protecting products during transport, extending product life, keeping food safe and reducing food waste.

We are working together with our supplier partners, government and industry to accelerate packaging sustainability and transition to a circular economy in Australia.

Our ambition is to play a key role in driving the delivery of Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets (2025 Targets) which apply to all packaging that is made, used and sold in Australia.

We will do this by working to ensure that by 2025, or earlier, all Coles Own Brand and Coles Own Liquor Brand packaging in Australia:

  • is 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable;
  • includes an average of 50% recycled content;
  • carries the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL). The ARL provides guidance on what packaging components can be disposed of according to different waste streams and supports the National Packaging Target of 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted; and
  • has phased out problematic, and unnecessary single-use plastic.

Coles is a signatory to the Australian Packaging Covenant and an active member of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), tasked with delivering Australia’s 2025 Targets. During FY21, Coles’ Head of Strategic and Responsible Sourcing joined APCO’s Collective Action Group tasked with overseeing the strategic delivery of the 2025 Targets. Coles is also a member of APCO’s Marketing Advisory Committee, a group established to address public consumer education supporting the ARL.

We understand our important role in driving change and will strive to take a leadership position working with industry and APCO to support the 2025 Targets’ delivery.

The ANZPAC Plastics Pact (ANZPAC) was launched in May 2021 with Coles as one of its founding members.

ANZPAC aims to bring together key players behind a shared vision of a circular economy for plastic, where plastic never becomes waste or pollution. Together through shared knowledge, investment and industry led innovation it will implement solutions tailored to Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands region.

APCO will lead the development and delivery of ANZPAC which was developed in consultation with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and WRAP UK.

The ANZPAC Regional Plastic Targets (ANZPAC Targets), which closely align with the 2025 Targets are:

  • eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign, innovation and alternative (reuse) delivery models;
  • 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025;
  • increase plastic packaging collected and effectively recycled by at least 25% for each geography within the ANZPAC region; and
  • average of 25% recycled content in plastic packaging across the region.

There are many external dependencies on achieving the 2025 Targets and the ANZPAC Targets. These include industry progress and developments in infrastructure (such as specialised recycling facilities), market innovation to support supply of quality recycled raw material (especially in relation to food-grade packaging), and industry awareness and understanding of packaging sustainability including traceability of material to verify recycled content.

While external dependencies will present challenges, Coles is committed to working with industry and government to play a leading role in delivering the ANZPAC Targets.

Our R3 Packaging Strategy for Coles Own Brand and Coles Own Liquor Brand was established in FY21 and outlines three key pillars and eight initiatives to support the elimination of packaging from landfill. These initiatives support the delivery of Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets. The key pillars of our strategy are:

  1. Redesign: focuses on redesigning our packaging where we can, to reduce unnecessary components, phase out problematic materials, increase reusability and improve recyclability;
  2. Recycle: focuses on making sure our packaging is not only recyclable but is also recycled effectively by our customers. We do this through application of the ARL on our packaging; and
  3. Reimagine: drives us to reimagine our packaging and look at how we can increase the amount of recycled content included and support industry on new circular economy initiatives.

More information on some of our key achievements to drive sustainably packaging can be found in the Coles Sustainability ReportView PDF, file size 8.9MB, Opens in new windowOpens in new window.

Since 2019, Coles has been rated as a ‘leading’ retailer by APCO in its annual performance assessment of its members. Our most recent APCO Annual Report and Action Plan can be found hereAPCO Annual Report and Action Plan, View PDF, file size 1.06MB, Opens in new windowOpens in new window.

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