New frontier opens in the supermarket wars

Both Woolworths and Coles have declared a war on waste, going to differing lengths to convince the public that they take their plastic packaging waste seriously. It will be interesting to see how it affects suppliers.
Coles’s 10-point plan
Coles has undertaken to halve food waste across its supermarkets by 2020, make all packaging of Coles Brand products recyclable, and reduce plastic wrapping on fruit and vegetables.
The announcement of 10 Coles Commitments on Packaging and Recycling comes as the retailer prepares its customers for the phasing out of single-use plastic bags on July 1.
Significantly, Coles also pledges to divert 90 per cent of all supermarket waste (including food, cardboard and plastic) from landfill by 2022 and donate the equivalent of 100 million meals to people in need by 2020 by redistributing surplus food.
Coles managing director John Durkan said Coles wanted to lead the way in its commitment to the environment.
“We know that 69 per cent of customers say that we need to actively reduce waste and landfill through recyclable packaging and find alternative uses for waste,” he said.
“We are delighted to be the only Australian supermarket to sell own-brand water bottles that are both 100 per cent recyclable and 100 per cent made from recycled materials. Now we are the first major food retailer in Australia to announce a target to make all of our own brand packaging recyclable by 2020, ahead of the Federal Government’s target of 2025.”
“By the end of this year we will also connect every Coles store to the vital food rescue program, SecondBite, meaning surplus edible food from every Coles supermarket will be redistributed to people in need. By connecting an additional 130 supermarkets to SecondBite this year, we will also be further diverting food waste from landfill.
“By 2020, we want to provide the equivalent of 100 million meals to Australians in need. Since 2011, we’ve donated around 72 million meals to SecondBite and Foodbank so we’ve still got 28 million meals to go.”
Coles has also pledged to label all Coles Brand products with recycling information to help customers know how and where to dispose of their waste.
Coles’ commitments to recycling and packaging also include:

  • A program to reduce plastic wrapping of fruit and vegetables through new initiatives such as removing double plastic packaging for fruit, selling bunched vegetables like kale and silver beet without plastic, and removing plastic packaging from Coles Brand bananas.
  • Replacing packaging for a wide range of meat and poultry products with packaging made from recycled and renewable materials.
  • Replacing existing single use fresh produce bags with bags which have 30% recycled content.
  • Providing customers with an option to recycle all their soft plastics at every Coles supermarkets across Australia, to then be converted into a range of products including outdoor furniture and road base.
  • Providing an additional one million reusable crates for fresh produce in our Coles supply chain in 2019 to replace single-use cardboard and polystyrene boxes, adding to the 6 million reusable plates currently being used.

Coles’s
…achievements to date

  • Since 2011, we’ve donated the equivalent of around 72 million meals to SecondBite and Foodbank.
  • Since September 2014, all Coles Brand water bottles made from 100% recycled PET (rPET).
  • Only Australian supermarket to have its own crate recycling program in Australia with more than 6 million reusable crates in circulation.
  • Commitment to remove single use plastic shopping bags across all Coles businesses by 1 July 2018.
  • In 2011, Coles was the first Australian supermarket to provide a soft plastic recycling program to customers across Australia through REDcycle.
  • First Australian supermarket to provide soft plastic recycling in every store.
  • More than $12 million in grants or interest-free loans to 27 different producers as part of the $50 million Nurture Fund.

…and commitments for the future

  1. Divert 90 per cent of supermarket waste (including food, cardboard and plastic) from landfill by 2022.
  2. Halve food waste in Coles supermarkets by 2020.
  3. Donate unsold edible food from every Coles supermarket in Australia.
  4. Provide the equivalent of 100 million meals to Australians in need by donating unsold, edible food.
  5. Work with suppliers to reduce food waste.
  6. All Coles Brand packaging recyclable by 2020.
  7. More recycled material in Coles brand packaging.
  8. Introduce new labelling to promote recycling.
  9. In-store soft plastic recycling options in every Coles supermarket.
  10. Reduce excess packaging across our stores and supply chain.

 
Woolworths
Phasing out the sale of plastic straws, further reductions in plastic packaging in fruit and vegetables, and the launch of a new reusable shopping bag are amongst a number of sustainability initiatives announced by the Woolworths Group.
On the eve of World Environment Day, Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci made the announcements at an industry sustainability event hosted at the Group’s Support Office in Bella Vista, Sydney. The new initiatives announced, include:

  • By the end of 2018, all stores within the group in Australia and New Zealand will no longer sell plastic straws – saving 134 million plastic straws from going into circulation each year.
  • With the nationwide phasing out of single-use plastic shopping bags on 20 June, Woolworths Supermarkets will offer a new green reusable shopping bag – with a lifetime replacement offer – for customers to purchase. All money made from the sale of the Bag for Good in FY19 will go towards the Junior Landcare grants program.
  • In an ongoing effort to remove unnecessary packaging in produce, Woolworths is committed to trial the removal of plastic packaging on a further 80 lines over the next year. This will build on the 140 tonnes of plastic saved in the fruit and vegetables range in the last year.
  • A commitment for 100% of Woolworths Supermarkets to have a food waste diversion partner by the end of 2018.
  • Woolworths to lead the establishment of a new Packaging Coalition Roundtable bringing together government, NGOs and key industry partners including Unilever, Nestlé, Simplot, VISY and the Australian Packaging Covenant to find ways to move towards a circular economy in Australia.

Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci said: “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% increase in Australians now saying that taking care of the planet is important to them.
“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.
“Today’s initiatives represent further small, but important steps in our commitment to make positive change happen. We understand the journey towards a more sustainable future has its challenges, but together with our customers and industry partners we are committed to moving our business, our country and our planet towards a greener future.”
The sustainability event at the Woolworths Support Office also included global perspectives on sustainable retailing from Peter Skelton from WRAP UK, while Craig Reucassel from ABC’s War on Waste facilitated a panel of industry leaders discussing the challenges and opportunities of moving to a circular economy.
The panel included Angus Harris (Co-CEO Harris Farm Markets); Anthony Pratt (Executive Chairman, Visy Australia & Pratt Industries); Claire Peters (Managing Director, Woolworths Supermarkets); Clive Stiff (CEO Unilever, Australia and New Zealand) and Paul Klymenko (CEO Planet Ark Australia Foundation).
 

Brambles reports FY17 sustainability progress

Global supply-chain logistics company Brambles, which operates primarily through the CHEP and IFCO brands, has published its Sustainability Review for the 2017 Financial Year.
Brambles operates a circular business model, specialising in the sharing and reuse of unit load equipment including more than 590 million pallets, crates and containers. In FY17, customers’ use of CHEP and IFCO platforms saved 1.6 million trees, 2.5 million metric tonnes of CO2 emissions and 1.4 million metric tonnes of solid waste, the report stated. Transport collaboration projects with over 200 customers initiated by Brambles also removed 64.7 million empty truck kilometres from the world’s supply chains.
In FY17, 99.1 per cent of the timber used by CHEP came from certified sources, and Brambles also eliminated plastic waste and raw material costs by recycling 22,600 tonnes of end-of-life plastic materials into new CHEP plastic pallets and IFCO reusable plastic crates. Brambles operations also achieved a 7.8 per cent reduction in carbon emissions per unit and 14.3 per cent of the electricity it consumed came from renewable sources.
“This has been another fantastic year for sustainability at Brambles, in which we have continued our excellent progress towards our 2020 goals,” said Juan Jose Freijo, Head of Global Sustainability, Brambles. “These achievements are only possible thanks to the end-to-end collaboration between our employees and our customers worldwide.
“Our commitment to sustainability is at the very heart of everything we do. Through the successful combination of our circular, ‘share and reuse’ business model, global scale and supply chain expertise, we are able to reduce operating costs and demand for natural resources, both in our own company and across the world’s supply chains.”

Australian cold-chain industry forms food-waste advocacy group

Australia’s first advocacy group to improve compliance and standards in the handling of food at all levels of the cold chain has been established at a meeting in Queensland.
The inaugural session of the Australian Food Cold Chain Council (AFCCC) on 7 August 2017 brought together representatives from the manufacturing, food transport, refrigeration and cold chain industries.
The Council has reportedly been established in response to mounting community pressure about the costs and environmental damage of food wastage, with the AFCCC positioning itself as an important part of the solution, encouraging innovation, compliance, waste reduction and safety across the Australian food cold chain.
“The new Council is not about promoting an industry – we want to change the industry for the better, said Interim Chair, Mark Mitchell.
“One of our priorities will be to apply whatever pressure is needed in industry and in government to make sure the existing Australian standards for cold chain food handling are properly followed.
“There’s lots of rhetoric in government programs, associations and among food handlers and suppliers about commitments to food waste reduction and cold chain compliance, but little, if nothing, is being done at any level about improving the cold chain, and ensuring that standards are followed. Australia’s track record in efficient cold food handling, from farm to plate, is far from perfect.”
The interim directors of AFCCC are Stephen Elford General Manager Australia New Zealand, Carrier Transicold; Mark Mitchell, Managing Director, SuperCool Australia Pacific; Peter Lawrence, Technical Director ANZ, Thermo King; Kyle Hawker, Transport Manager, Simplot Australia; Adam Wade, National Transport Leader, Lion; Kevin Manfield, General Manager – Products & Markets, MaxiTRANS Australia; plus a nominated individual representing the transport industry.
The AFCCC asserts that on average, Australians waste 860kg of food per person annually, with at least five per cent of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions coming from food wastage.
Mitchell noted that Australian industry is well placed to attack the issue.
“Performance across the cold-food chain can be improved with better equipment and handling processes as well as with improved monitoring and assessment to determine where the weaknesses lie,” he said.
The new advocacy group’s first priorities will be contributing to both the development of the National Food Waste Strategy and becoming part of the CRC designed to address food waste and fraud.

Entries open for 2017 Australian Freight Industry Awards

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) is now accepting entries for the 2017 Australian Freight Industry Awards (AFIAs).
“Now in their 28th year, the AFIAs have grown to become one of the most coveted accolades in the Australian freight industry, and are intended to recognise and acknowledge the outstanding achievements of participants in the transport sector,” said Peter Anderson, CEO, VTA.
“Last year, judges assessed more than 40 entries across a range of categories, and we’re hopeful of receiving even more entries in 2017, showcasing the many great things transport industry participants have achieved.”
Six awards will be contested this year and organisations have been invited to nominate for one or more of the following categories:

  • Investment in People
  • Best Practice Safety
  • Application of Technology
  • Waste & Recycling
  • Young Achiever of the Year
  • Personality of the Year

“Participating in the awards, through submitting one or more entries and attending the awards presentation with your staff, is a great way to support our industry and its people,” said Anderson.
The deadline for entries is Monday, 14 August. Criteria and entry forms are available by contacting the VTA on 03 9646 8590.
Award winners and finalists will be announced at the annual AFIA presentation celebration on Saturday, 2 September at the Palladium Ballroom at Crown, Melbourne.
 

Green achievements for US corrugated packaging industry

The US-based Corrugated Packaging Alliance (CPA) has released a new corrugated industry life cycle assessment (LCA), showing the corrugated industry’s environmental progress, including a 35 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 2006 and 2014.
The reduction was achieved through increased recovery of old corrugated containers (OCCs) and use of energy generated from renewable, carbon-neutral biomass and decreased overall use of fossil fuels.
“The LCA results demonstrate the efforts our mills and converting facilities are making to reduce the industry’s supply chain impact on the environment,” said Dennis Colley, Executive Director, CPA. “Sustainable forest procurement, along with the high old corrugated containers recovery rate provide for a well-balanced system of fibre and supports the sustainability of our industry’s products.”
The LCA examined the effects of a one kilogram industry-average corrugated product manufactured in 2014 on seven environmental impact indicators: global warming potential, eutrophication (run-off from land causing excessive richness in bodies of water), acidification, smog, ozone depletion, respiratory effects, fossil fuel depletion and four inventory indicators: water use, water consumption, renewable energy demand and non-renewable energy demand.
The recovery rate for OCC increased from 72 per cent to 89.5 per cent in the period studied – as more is recovered, less goes to landfill, thereby reducing methane emissions.

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