Together to Zero Waste

We’re working with industry partners, suppliers and customers to increase food security, reduce waste and overall, conserve our valuable resources. Find out about our initiatives to reduce food waste, our partnership with REDcycle, our reusable bags and Australian Recycling Labels (ARL)

 

Coles Southland team member Xavier processing food waste

Reducing food waste

To minimise food waste across our supply chains and our own operations, every Coles supermarket and distribution centre has a food waste solution available to them. 

Our first choice for unsold, edible food is to donate it to food rescue organisations such as SecondBite and Foodbank. Following that, we have other food waste solutions including donations to farmers and animal or wildlife services, organics collections and in-store food waste disposal equipment.

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. 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.

 

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

REDcycle - soft plastic recycling 

We're proud to offer REDcycle soft plastic collection program in all Coles supermarkets. Through our relationship with REDcycle which began in 2011, Coles facilitates the collection of customers’ soft plastic, which can be recycled into furniture, children’s playground equipment, roads and even Coles carparks.

Customers can return plastic bags, as well as other soft plastic packaging that cannot be recycled through most household kerbside recycling services. Coles online customers can return soft plastics to their customer service agent for recycling through REDcycle.

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

Learn more about REDcycle's story here

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

Reusable 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

Coles employee holding Coles mince in recycled packaging

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 continuing work towards all Own Brand product packaging being 100% recyclable, reuseable or compostable by 2025. 

Knowing what packaging is recyclable and how to recycle can be confusing. We are striving to roll out the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) and all Coles Own Brand packaging will carry the ARL by 2025. The ARL provides guidance on what packaging components can be disposed of according to different waste streams.

Recycling labels on Coles Own Brand products

Consistent messaging has been missing in recycling and disposal labels across Australia, resulting in confusion around what consumers can and cannot recycle. To help our customers with this, we are driving the delivery of the Australian Government’s 2025 National Packaging Targets by ensuring that all Coles Own Brand packaging will carry the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) by 2025. The ARL has been designed with familiarity and clarity in mind to provide guidance on recycling and disposal and is composed of three key parts: the separable packaging component, the recycling classification and additional instructions. 

The applicable packaging component is identified by the name at the top (e.g. box), and every separable component of packaging is required to have a separate label. The components classification can be one of three options – Recyclable, Conditionally Recyclable or Not Recyclable – as determined by the corresponding  Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP) evaluation tool . Where the Conditionally Recyclable ARL is used, it will include consumer instructions to let consumers know that an extra action is required to recycle this component correctly.

Under the ARL system, there are three classifications of labels. 

Recyclable

The black mobius loop, means that this piece of packaging can be placed in the recycling bin as it is. Each piece of packaging with this label must be placed separately in the recycling bin.

Conditionally Recyclable

The white mobius loop means that you must follow the instructions to recycle this packaging component. If you don’t follow the instructions it must be placed in the landfill bin, as it will otherwise not be recycled and cause contamination to the recycling stream.

Not Recyclable

The bin symbol, means that this piece of packaging is not recyclable and you must place it in the landfill bin. Do not place it in the recycling bin. It will not get recycled and it will contaminate the recycling stream.

By putting the ARL on all of our Coles Own Brand packaging by 2025, we are helping all Australians to think about how to dispose of their packaging. Our partners at Planet Ark and APCO have developed a campaign called 'Check it Before You Chuck It' to help educate Australians about how to recycle correctly using the label. There are a range of resources available for businesses, schools and households to help all Australians get the right packaging in the right bin. To find out more visit www.arl.org.au.

Sustainable cooking

Make the most of your ingredients and reduce your food waste with these delicious recipes and handy tips.