Sustainable environment practices

Coles is investing in important environmental projects and partnerships to reduce our environmental impact. We’re focussed on managing waste (including food waste) and recycling, building more energy efficient stores and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, we're working to maintain food security and adapt to extreme weather events and the impacts of climate change.

Waste and recycling

To minimise food waste across our supply chains and our own operations, every Coles supermarket and distribution centre is connected to a food waste solution. Rather than going to landfill, food is helping people in need, assisting farmers to feed their animals, being recycled into compost or converted into energy.

Through our partnerships with SecondBite and Foodbank, we've been able to provide more than 147 million healthy and nutritious meals to community organisations across Australia that support people in need. More than 390 stores are connected with farmers  who feed their animals with products that can’t go to SecondBite or Foodbank.

We're also reducing food waste in our supply chain by redirecting produce that typically would not be sold into other value-added products. Bananas are used in Coles Brand frozen banana pieces, banana bread and muffins. Cauliflower and broccoli are turned into broccoli and cauliflower rice. These products and others, such as zucchini noodles, sweet potato noodles and sweet potato chips, are all helping our suppliers use up more of their crops and cut food waste. With less food going to landfill, we're also helping to lower our greenhouse gas emissions as part of our climate change response.

Coles Southland team member Xavier processing food waste

REDcycle - soft plastic recycling 

We're proud to offer REDcycle recycling in all Coles supermarkets. Through the program, customers can recycle plastic bags and other soft plastic packaging using specially marked bins located at the front of our stores.

Since the program began in 2011, Coles has diverted more than one billion pieces of flexible plastic from landfill across Australia.

Customers can recycle a range of soft plastic packaging including bread bags, cereal bags and frozen food bags.

Types of soft plastics that can be recycled via REDcycle are:

  • Shopping bags including reusable 'green’ bags
  • Fresh fruit and veggie bags and wrappers
  • Bread bags
  • Cereal box liners
  • Biscuit wrappers and confectionery packaging
  • Rice and pasta packets
  • Frozen food bags

 

REDcycle CEO Liz Kasell with Hugo and Lulu Harvey recycle soft plastics at the Coles supermarket at Southland

Single-use plastic carry bags

To encourage our customers to use reusable bags when they shop at Coles, we offer a range of reusable bags for purchase. These include the 15 cent Coles Better Bag, which is made from 80% recycled material and has been designed to be reused.

You can also buy bags designed by Australian schoolchildren to help raise funds for community organisations such as SecondBite, Little Athletics Australia, Clean Up Australia and Guide Dogs Australia.

Find out more about the winning designs and designers here. 

For more information on Coles Better Bags, click here.

Ella Burke holding her winning Coles community bag design in the fruit asile

Climate change

Coles’ vision is to become the most trusted retailer in Australia and grow long-term shareholder value, and our purpose is to sustainably feed all Australians to help them lead healthier, happier lives. Responding to the challenges presented by climate change is essential to fulfilling our vision and purpose.

Fires, floods and other extreme weather events all have the potential to affect our customers, our suppliers and our own operations. As we face the impacts of climate change, we need to be able to respond quickly so that we can continue to serve our customers around the country.

As one of Australia’s largest companies, we understand our responsibility to minimise our environmental footprint, as well as mitigate the environmental and social impacts of climate change.

In March 2021, Coles Group announced the following commitments:

  • To deliver net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050;
  • For the entire Coles Group to be powered by 100% renewable electricity by the end of FY25, building on the progress already made towards this target through renewable power purchase agreements, onsite solar and agreements with renewable electricity generators; and
  • To reduce combined Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by more than 75% by the end of FY30 (from a FY20 baseline). 

Reducing our own greenhouse emissions is a key part of our climate change response. We spend millions of dollars each year investing in initiatives such as improving the energy efficiency of refrigeration systems in our stores and distribution centres.

We will continue building the resilience of our business, and supporting the community, against climate impacts. Whether it’s chartering a plane or a boat to get stock through floods or working with emergency services and food rescue organisations to support communities devastated by bushfire.

Coles have developed and will continue to develop business continuity plans which includes working with our suppliers to build supply chain resilience through the $50M Coles Nurture Fund, which has supported a range of climate adaptation initiatives.

Ruth and Tom Wagner from Moura Queensland in a field

Renewable energy

In March 2021, Coles Group committed to being powered by 100% renewable electricity by the end of FY25.

Coles was the first major Australian retailer to commit to buying renewable electricity through a power purchase agreement in 2019. From July 2022, Coles will also source more than 90% of its Queensland electricity requirements from renewable sources.

In March 2021, Coles Group signed an agreement with Lal Lal Wind Farms near Ballarat, Victoria for the purchase of large-scale generation certificates for renewable electricity until the end of 2030.

We're also installing solar power at many of our supermarkets. This helps reduce the stores’ environmental footprint and keep energy costs down. Installing solar power is part of Coles’ commitment to increase the amount of electricity we source from renewables.

Coles team members inspect solar panels on roof of Coles' supermarket at Drysdale, Victoria

Environmental stores

We're reducing the environmental footprint of our stores.

To help cut back on energy used in refrigeration, we have installed night blinds on open refrigeration cases, anti-condensation heater controls on our glass door freezers and cool room controllers.

We're also testing other technologies to improve the energy efficiency of refrigeration systems in existing stores. We are also working on climate control to better manage fresh air in store and reduce air-conditioning. Plus, we have installed LED lighting and automated lights to reduce our energy use outside of trading hours.

Team member in store closing fridge night blind

 

Click here to learn even more about sustainability across Coles Group.