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Reducing our environmental impact

Coles invests in projects and partnerships aimed at reducing the impact of its assets and operations on the environment. These include reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, promoting efficiencies in its supply chain, and improving waste reduction and recycling.

Waste reduction and recycling

Coles' main sources of waste are cardboard, food and plastic, and it is focused on innovating and improving its recycling programs across these areas.

The total amount of waste (both landfill and recycled) increased by six per cent compared with the previous year. There was a three per cent increase in recycled waste and an 11 per cent increase in waste to landfill. The increased volume from waste to landfill was as a result of an increased number of stores in its network. Of total waste (both landfill and recycled), 70 per cent is recycled.

In July 2017, Coles announced it would phase-out single use plastic bags from all stores nation-wide over the next year. The move will bring Coles stores in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia in line with Tasmania, South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT, where Coles already complies with bans on single use bags.

Soft plastics recycling bins will remain in place as part of Coles’ REDcycle plastic packaging recycling program. Through the program, Coles' customers can recycle plastic bags and soft plastic packaging using specially marked bins at the front of over 670 participating stores. Coles' recycling partner, Replas, then converts this plastic into new products, including outdoor furniture.

Last year, an additional 149 Coles stores across Australia introduced soft plastic recycling through REDcycle. Most Coles Online customers can also recycle their soft plastics by providing them to their delivery driver for collection.

A key feature of REDcycle is that it gives twice - firstly by helping reduce landfill and then by using the donated plastic to make outdoor furniture for schools and other community members. Since the program began, Coles has diverted more than 300 million pieces of flexible plastic from landfill across Australia.

Since 2014, Coles has used Plantic™, the world’s first ultra-high barrier renewable and recyclable material, to package Coles Brand fresh beef, pork and lamb mince. There are considerable environmental benefits from using this renewable and recyclable packaging, derived from non-genetically modified corn starch. Over the year, Coles used more than 3,000 tonnes of Plantic™, helping to save more than 17 million kilowatt hours of energy or enough to power 2,600 homes for a year.

Coles is exploring opportunities to divert organic waste from landfill and have expanded its program in Western Australia to include recycling of packaged bread and bakery products.

Through its national partnership with SecondBite over 670 Coles Supermarkets donate fresh produce and bakery items to communities across Australia.Twenty-three million kilograms of product have been donated since the partnership began in 2011.

During the year, Coles increased its food donations by 9.8 per cent, donating more than 8,600 tonnes of food through our partnerships with SecondBite and Foodbank.

Coles continues to reduce food losses across the supply chain by redirecting food that cannot be sold whole, to other value-added products. It recently launched three new fresh produce lines (broccoli and cauliflower rice, cauliflower rice, carrot and pumpkin noodle) which all use fresh vegetables which would otherwise contribute to landfill. Coles has also launched a new banana bread product, which uses more than 600 tonnes of bananas per annum which would have otherwise gone to landfill.

Energy efficiency in store
Refrigeration, lighting and air-conditioning account for the majority of energy used in Coles stores. Coles increased its number of supermarkets by 14 and liquor and convenience stores by 30 over the reporting period. While the total floor area increased by more than 3.7 per cent, Coles reduced its total energy consumption by 0.5 per cent in the same period. Coles' greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity decreased by three per cent between 2017 and 2016.

Coles has reduced its emissions by more than 30 per cent since 2009. It reduced emissions from energy consumption by 15 per cent and from refrigerant use by 72 per cent.

Last year, Coles invested in excess of $15 million in energy efficiency projects, equating to more than 1,000 installations. These projects included LED lighting retrofits, improved hot water controls, upgrades in electrical infrastructure and solar power installations.

By the end of June 2017, Coles installed solar panels on six supermarkets with a seventh soon to commence. It aims to install solar panels on up to 20 more supermarkets nationally by the end of the next financial year and to make solar a standard feature of new stores in the future.

Energy use


2017   7.7
2016   6.9
2015   7.0
2014   6.9
2013   6.9



tonnes '000
2017   241
2016   235
2015   192
2014   175
2013   163
2017   93
2016   91
2015   821
2014   83
2013   94
1 This does not include approximately 28,000 kL of liquid waste disposed.