Woolworths to ban plastic straws, Coles commit to slash plastic usage

By @chelean on
coles
A man walks in the fruit and vegetables section at a Coles supermarket (main Wesfarmers brand) in Sydney, Australia, February 20, 2018. Picture taken February 20, 2018. Reuters/Daniel Munoz

Supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles have committed to reduce their plastic usage. Coles announced Monday that it would cut down excessive plastic packaging for fruits and vegetables, while Woolworths will stop selling plastic straws altogether.

Both retailers previously vowed to scrap their single-use plastic bags, but now they are doubling their effort to be more environmentally friendly.

Coles’ commitment

Coles has pledged to reduce the plastic wrappings on fruits and vegetables, as well as replace its meat and poultry product packaging with recycled and renewable materials. It will also halve food waste from its supermarket and make all of the packaging of its branded products recyclable by 2020. It will also donate the equivalent of about 100 million meals in surplus food to people in need by the same year. Two years later, it will divert 90 percent of all supermarket waste away from landfills.

“We know that 69 percent of customers say that we need to actively reduce waste and landfill through recyclable packaging and find alternative uses for waste,” managing director John Durkan said in a statement. He added that the company would also connect every Coles store to SecondBite, a food rescue program, so surplus edible food from every Coles store would be redistributed to people in need by the end of this year.

Woolworths to stop selling straws

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said they would phase out the sale of plastic straws in their Australian and New Zealand stores by the end of the year. This would save 134 million plastic straws from going into circulation each year.

“In the last year, we have seen a shift towards more sustainable attitudes from our customers and the momentum is growing, with recent research showing a 15 percent increase in Australians now saying that taking care of the planet is important to them,” Banducci said. “While we’ve made progress in reducing the amount of plastic in our stores, supported recycling labelling initiatives, and made improvements in energy efficiency, sustainable sourcing and reducing food waste, we know that more needs to be done to meet our customers’ expectations.”

The company will also trial the removal of plastic packaging on a further 80 lines over the next year. It will also commit 100 percent of all its stores to have a food waste diversion partner by the end of 2018.

With the nationwide phasing out of single-use plastic bags from June 20, Woolworths Supermarkets will offer a new green reusable shopping bag for customers to purchase. It will come with a lifetime supply offer. The sales from which will go towards the Junior Landcare grants program.

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