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WESFARMERS SUSTAINABILITY REPORT 2017

Coles helps transform organic waste into electricity and compost

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More than 50 Coles supermarkets across Western Australia are converting surplus food such as out of date bread, bakery items and vegetables into clean energy and compost at a digestion plant in Jandakot, Western Australia.

Through a waste management program with Richgro – a local, fourth-generation family business that operates the digestion plant – Coles stores have helped to divert more than 700 tonnes of organic material from landfill since November 2016.

Since 2014, 53 Coles supermarkets across Western Australia have been sending organic waste to Richgro's Anaerobic Digestion Plant but thanks to recent advancements at Richgro, Coles can now also supply out of date packaged bread for recycling at the plant.

Richgro Operations Manager Tim Richards said there was no longer a need to separate the bread from its wrapping before entering the digester.

"Using the latest technologies, the plant mimics a stomach – breaking down food waste supplied by Coles – generating methane gas, which is then fed to a generator to produce electricity that goes back into the grid,” Tim said. 

"We can now put bread into the digester de-packaging machine. The machine spins at a high speed, separating the loaf of bread from the plastic, so only the bread enters the digester - a quicker and easier process.”

“The digesters operate like a large stomach, in that they need a balanced diet to maintain good health, just like the doctors preach to all of us.  The Coles food waste forms a great foundation to enable us to maintain the health in the digesters.”

Coles State General Manager Mark O’Connor said “This initiative is great for the environment and compliments Coles commitment to recycling."

Wherever possible, Coles donates surplus edible food from more than 670 stores across Australia to SecondBite to redistribute to people in need.