Shop talk: Woolies & Coles see green

5th June 2020 | Eativity editors

Today is World Environment Day, which makes it perfect timing that our major supermarket chains have also today announced some new environmentally-friendly initiatives. Cynical? Us? Never. We’re just happy to see that the big two are doing something positive for the planet. Every little bit counts, after all.

Woolworths has introduced paper vegie tags.

Woolworths reduces plastic packaging

Woolworths has announced plans to reduce plastic across a range of fruit and vegies, including bananas, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, broccolini, sweet potatoes and apples.

By moving out of a plastic clamshell and into adhesive tape for bananas, replacing rigid plastic trays with pulp fibre on tomatoes, moving to a paper tag on broccolini and reducing plastic film by 30% in weight on carrots and potatoes, Woolworths has removed a further 237 tonnes of plastic packaging in the last year.

The tray used for sweet potatoes and organic apples is now made of recycled cardboard, rather than plastic. Woolworths has also commenced a trial of switching plastic packaging in its Fresh Food Kids range of apples, pears and bananas to easy-to-recycle cardboard. 

Woolworths’ recyclable cardboard packaging.

“Something that was very surprising during COVID-19 was the continued relevance of the environment, with 70% of Australians saying that taking care of the planet and making sustainable choices remained important to them, even at the height of the crisis,” says Woolworths Group CEO Brad Banducci.

“While we’ve made progress in reducing the amount of plastic in our stores, supported recycling labelling initiatives and made improvements in energy efficiency, sustainable sourcing and reducing food waste, we know there is still much more to be done.”

Since Woolworths removed single-use plastic bags in 2018, more than 6 billion bags have been taken out of circulation. Earlier this week, Woolworths also started to offer paper shopping bags, made out of 70% recycled paper.

Daniel Clegg, NT Regional Manager for Coles, with the new Envirobank Reverse Vending Machine.

A new way to turn recycling into groceries

Not to be outdone, Coles has also made a timely announcement for World Environment Day: Territorians who want to help the environment, and their hip pockets, can head to Casuarina Shopping Village from today to check out the introduction of Envirobank’s Reverse Vending Machine, which is designed to make it easier to recycle aluminium cans, glass and PET bottles – and get paid for it.

The RVM is the first of its kind to offer customers the chance to exchange their bottles and cans for supermarket vouchers via Envirobank’s Crunch Platform. The automated machine makes it easier for people to get involved in the Territory’s container deposit scheme.

The Cash for Containers scheme allows Territorians to return eligible drink containers and collect a 10-cent deposit, reducing the number of recyclable materials going to landfill and providing extra income for many individuals and community groups.

The machine from Envirobank Recycling, an Indigenous-owned company, makes it as simple to recycle a drink container as it is to buy one. It doesn’t require an operator and allows people to recycle containers one at a time rather than having to collect and store them.