Coles’ bold new ambitions to reduce its environmental impact

Coles is working hard to reduce its carbon footprint, divert food waste from landfill and look for more sustainable packaging options. 

A customer using our refill station

Packageless refill station: one of the initiatives at the new Coles Moonee Ponds concept store.

Coles' new targets to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, commit to 100% renewable electricity and set a course to net zero greenhouse gas emissions are part of our refreshed sustainability strategy built around the concept of working “Together to Zero”.

The new strategy is brought to life at Coles’ newest concept store in the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds. The store features many initiatives including “packageless” refill stations that dispense laundry soaps, household detergents, bodywash, handwash and shampoo; reusable shopping bags made with 80% recycled content including marine industry waste; and Australian-made trolley baskets made from 90% recycled milk bottles and 10% recycled plastic.

A customer walking past a poster about recycled trolley baskets

Australian-made trolley baskets made from 90% recycled milk bottles and 10% recycled plastic.

Together To Zero emissions

Coles’ key commitment in the refreshed strategy is for the entire Coles Group to be powered by renewable electricity by June 2025. In addition to the renewable electricity target, Coles also has an ambition to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “We have a responsibility to help create a better Australia for future generations,” says Coles Group CEO Steven Cain.

Together To Zero hunger

As a food retailer Coles loves food and does not want to see it go to waste. Coles’ first priority for any unsold food which is still edible is to donate it to food rescue organisations which support community groups and volunteer agencies. Since 2011 Coles has worked with SecondBite, which collects edible, unsold food directly from Coles supermarkets – or organises for local charities to collect this food on its behalf. SecondBite Interim CEO Steve Clifford said that over the past decade Coles has donated the equivalent of over 136 million meals to Australians in need. “Our relationship is based on shared values, and this is demonstrated every day as we continue to develop and strengthen our delivery of food to the most vulnerable.”

Together To Zero single-use plastic tableware

Coles is shelving single-use plastic tableware announcing that from July 2021 it will no longer sell single-use plastic tableware products such as cups, plates, bowls, straws and cutlery. Customers will instead be offered a range of FSC certified1 tableware and reusable options, made from responsibly sourced paper or recycled material.

Coles CEO Steven Cain says that removing single-use plastic tableware was part of Coles’ ambition to become Australia’s most sustainable supermarket. “This important initiative will divert more than 1.5 million kilograms of plastic from landfill each year,” he says.

Together To Zero soft plastic packaging waste

Coles is committed to helping improve recycling systems and is working with technology developer Licella, recycler iQ Renew, polymer manufacturer LyondellBasell and Nestlé on a joint feasibility study to determine the technical, economic and environmental benefits of a local advanced recycling industry.

The study is looking at potential sites in Victoria for an advanced recycling facility. Advanced recycling offers new life to old soft plastic by turning it back into oil. This oil can be used to produce new soft plastic food packaging from recycled soft plastic, such as flexible packaging used for confectionery, bread bags, cereal liners, biscuit wrappers and flexible packaging used to protect fresh produce.

Coles’ Chief Sustainability, Property and Export Officer, Thinus Keeve, said “the potential to completely close the loop on soft plastics and convert it into food-grade soft plastics that could then be used in our Coles Brand packaging would be a game-changer – we are delighted to be supporting the feasibility study, which is a vital step in bringing this cutting-edge technology to Australia at scale.”

Coles also has an ongoing partnership with REDcycle, a soft plastic recycling organisation. Through the REDcycle program customers can return soft plastic packaging to all Coles supermarkets. Since the program began in 2011, customers have returned more than 1.3 billion pieces of soft plastic to Coles.

1. FSC is a global forest certification system to provide a guarantee that forest products come from responsibly managed sources. 

Find out more about our new Moonee Ponds store