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An update from our CEO on how we’re growing greener

World Environment Day

Saturday, June 5 marks World Environment Day, and I thought it timely to update you on how we’re Growing Greener at Woolworths.

As a Group, we are committed to taking steps today to help create a better tomorrow for ourselves and future generations. Listening to customers, I am constantly reminded of how important shopping more sustainably is becoming, with 70% of customers telling us that taking care of the planet is important to them, and this inspires us to lift our aspirations.

While we have lots more to do, I’m pleased to say we are continuing to make good progress:

All our stores will be powered by 100% green electricity by 2025

  • We now have rooftop solar panels on 130 Woolworths Supermarkets and three Distribution Centres. That’s more than 85,000 solar panels which generate 37 GWh of electricity each year - enough to power 6000 homes.
  • This week we announced our very first renewable power purchase from a wind farm near Yass in NSW, our offtake from this wind farm encompasses around 30% of our NSW energy needs.
  • We’re also materially more energy efficient, with over 1000 stores converted to LED lighting as of the end of this month, replacing over 1 million fluorescent light fittings and installing more than 400km of latest technology LED aisle lighting.

Progressing our plastic and packaging reduction journey…

  • Amazingly, it's been three years since we phased out single-use plastic shopping bags, taking more than 9 billion plastic bags out of circulation since 2018.
  • Taking plastic and packaging  out of stores is a painstaking process but recent achievements include:
    • New recyclable meat trays in our 'Specially Selected' and  'Grass Fed' beef ranges, which also uses 75% less plastic. 
    • Our paper carry bag, made from 70% recycled and responsibly sourced paper is a great option for our customers who want a bag that can be recycled at home. We’re also transitioning these bags to be 100% Australian made with locally made bags already in store across Victoria, SA, Tasmania, WA and NT
    • And this October we will remove all single-use plastic tableware - like cutlery, cups, plates and bowls - from sale nationwide
  • A practical example of how small things become big things - we launched e-receipts within Everyday Rewards in June last year and already, 250,000 Woolworths shoppers have cut paper receipts out of their supermarket shop for good. Going paperless not only streamlines the checkout experience, but saves an average of 13 meters of paper per customer every year.
  • Our number one priority is reducing plastic in fruit and vegetables, but this is more challenging than meets the eye and while we are actively trialling compostable bags for loose fruit and vegetables, we are currently unable to scale the options we are testing BUT watch this space!

Zero food waste to landfill by 2025

  • We divert enough surplus food for the equivalent of 20 million meals a year to hunger relief partners like OzHarvest, Fareshare and Foodbank. 
  • A further 58 million kilograms of surplus food has been donated since January 2020 to local farmers, zookeepers and now, in partnership with WIRES, wildlife carers

Interesting longer-term eco-concepts we are currently testing:

  • We're partnering with the CSIRO to invest in Future Feed, an initiative to develop a natural cattle feed additive using seaweed, which could dramatically cut methane emissions from cows by over 80 per cent.
  • We are trialling a Black Soldier Fly Larvae program as a viable option to circulate some perishable foods back into the ecosystem. This could help close the gap on food waste, ensuring surplus food not fit for humans and animals can still be kept out of landfill.
  • We're trialling a refill station at Burwood Brickworks in Melbourne where customers can fill up on eco cleaning products, using the same container again and again. Also at Brickworks and our new eco-store in West End, Brisbane are our shopping trolleys and hand baskets made from 100 percent locally sourced recycled milk bottles. 

To celebrate World Environment Day this year, our Bag for Good will be just 15c for one week only (from 2nd-8th June 2021, or while stocks last). So pick up a Bag for Good today for less!

Day by day we are growing greener and working together to create a better tomorrow. Thank you for your role in this process.

Brad Banducci