• Coles' sustainability achievements.
    Coles' sustainability achievements.

Coles has donated more than 35 million meals and diverted 80.6 per cent of solid waste from landfill, its FY21 sustainability report reveals.

The supermarket giant donated more than 18 million kilograms of food and $143 million in support to communities across Australia through SecondBite and Foodbank. 

More than 1.6 billion pieces of soft plastic have been returned to store since its 2011 partnership with REDcycle, 87 per cent of Coles Own Brand and Own Brand liquor packaging is now recyclable, and it has recorded a 2.2 per cent reduction in Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions.

Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey said Coles shares the same vision of sustainably feeding all Australians and everyone should have access to essential food. 

“More than 815,000 people a month were accessing food relief through the Foodbank network before the Black Summer bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. That number has grown significantly at various times throughout the last year and is likely to rise further as the knock-on effects of these events will be felt for years to come,” said Casey.

Together to Zero Emissions

In June, Coles released its full sustainable strategy bringing together its Together to Zero and Better Together initiatives. 

As part of its commitment to zero emissions, the group said it would deliver net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, be powered by 100 per cent renewable energy by FY25 and reduce Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 75 per cent by the end of FY30. 

Together to Zero and Better Together sets out how we will act together with our stakeholders to drive change and create a more sustainable future for generations of Australians ahead.

To achieve its 100 per cent renewable energy goal, Coles announced four electricity agreements during FY21, bringing its total to five. This included deals with largest independent power producer Engie, French energy producer Neoen, Lal Lal Wind Farms and CleanCo. 

Its solar powered supermarkets now number 83, after panels were installed at 16 stores during FY21. Coles’ largest solar installation is also underway, with 4200 panels being added to its Edinburgh Parks distribution centre, which should be completed by the end of FY22. 

Coles has implemented dynamic dispatch lanes (DDL) at its nine distribution centres across Australia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The DDLs have cut more than 20,000 kilometres of travel per year by optimising pallet loading from the floor onto store delivery vehicles, reducing 7.13 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent every year.

Together to Zero Waste

Coles' sustainability achievements.
Coles' sustainability achievements.

The company’s goal of diverting 90 per cent of waste from landfill by 2022 has been challenged by China’s 2018 National Sword policy, which banned the import of most plastics and other materials for recycling. The goal has also been constrained due to the slow adaptation of advanced waste-processing options outside of Australia’s major cities, the company said. 

Coles has reset its target and now aims to divert 85 per cent of waste from landfill by FY25. The group’s partnership with REDcycle has seen a 55 per cent increase in flexible plastic being collected from Coles, totalling to 2260 tonnes. 

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

After being collected from Coles, the soft plastic is converted into many products, it is also used in playground equipment, fence posts and road bases. The company’s new stores also produce recycled plastic wheel stops which are made of 98 per cent post-consumer soft plastic. 

Currently, Coles is working towards being a key player of Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets. To achieve this goal, Coles will endeavour to make all of its Own Brand and Own Brand Liquor Brand packaging to: 

  • be 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable; 
  • contain an average of 50 per cent recycled content; 
  • be obsolete of unnecessary single-use plastic; and 
  • incorporate the Australian Recycling Label. 

The company is trialling a moisture-resistant paper bag which is made from 70 per cent recycled paper, the bag will be reusable and recyclable through kerb side collection. Reusable produce bags are also under trial. 

Coles chair James Graham and CEO Steven Cain said the company’s goal is to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket. 

“We believe we have an important role to play in driving change and we look forward to continuing our sustainability journey and delivering on our sustainability strategy and associated ambitions with our team members, shareholders, farmers, suppliers, partners, customers and communities,” they said.


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