Diverting food scraps from landfill to feed all creatures great and small

From zoos, wildlife sanctuaries and animal rescue shelters to pig, cattle and hobby farms, Coles stores and delivery centres are donating thousands of kilograms of unsold produce and food scraps each week to feed all creatures great and small.

Two farmers with their two horses

Coles Lake Innes Bakery Manager Kylie Hanger with horse owner Michelle Hazell feeding her horses Troy (L) and Cougar (R) using donated bread

This is in addition to the 16 million kilograms of unsold edible food donated to SecondBite in 2020 alone to help provide meals for vulnerable Australians.

The food donated to animals range from bread for horses, eggs for pigs and exotic fruit and vegetables for native birds and wildlife. 

Coles Fairfield Central in Queensland began donating food to the Billabong Sanctuary near Townsville last year after the wildlife sanctuary put a SOS to Coles when it was forced to close their doors to the public at the height of COVID-19.

“They have some very unique animals like cassowaries, emus, parrots and lizards with very specific needs,” Store Support Manager Mark McElroy said.

“They’ve given us a list of fruit and veg we can donate such as rockmelons, watermelons and sweet potatoes and we set these aside for them as part of our waste separation process.  What we can’t give to Billabong we give to local farmers.”

In Lake Innes NSW, Bakery Manager Kylie Hanger has struck up a partnership with local animal welfare advocate Sue Lesmond to divert unsold bread loaves, rolls and buns from landfill to support rescued horses and ponies.

Sue Lesmond, a retired health worker, collects around 60 kilograms of leftover bread and bakery stock not suitable for sale from Coles Lake Innes three times a week.  She then delivers the food waste to six other farmers and residents in the local area who are struggling financially to support rescued animals, particularly horses and ponies.

“Coles Lake Innes has been terrific in helping to support horses and ponies that have been rescued from knackeries or retired from racing. The bread they provide feeds around 20 horses and ponies on local farms as well as some chooks,” Sue said.

“It takes a lot of hay and bread to feed horses and ponies.  Horses can eat up to two loaves of bread a day and it’s an essential part of their diet.  The cost of this can add up fairly quickly and a number of people that receives the bread are struggling financially themselves, so the bread is a huge help to us and the animals.”

Fairfield Central and Lake Innes are just two examples of how our stores are helping to feed all creatures great and small across Australia each week.  Not only do the food scraps donated help to feed animals, it supports local businesses, farmers and residents and most importantly, helps divert waste from our stores and delivery centres going to landfill. 

It’s just one way we’re working together in our community to become Australia’s most sustainable supermarket. 

Find out more about sustainability at Coles