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We know that we can positively influence the retail supply chain to become more sustainable and reduce our carbon footprint. Woolworths launched its latest Corporate Responsibility Strategy in February 2017 and has invested significant time and effort into its corporate responsibility and sustainability programs.


Woolworths Group's Corporate Responsibility Strategy 2020, identifies 20 corporate responsibility and sustainability goals and commitments that Woolworths aims to implement by FY’20. The goals and commitments cover a wide range of Woolworths’ stakeholders, including customers, team members, suppliers and the communities in which Woolworths operates. 

The strategy covers the following environmental targets:


Responding to climate change: energy and carbon initiatives

The world is moving to respond to the challenge of climate change with the signing of the Paris Agreement and nations committing to align targets to constrain global warming to within two degrees. Iconic, global businesses came out in support of this goal.

We will use science-based targets to assess the impacts of a two-degree world and examine their applicability to the Group.

We will also investigate further cost-effective investment in renewable energy as technology and commercial opportunities evolve. Our immediate target is to ‘Reduce Woolworths’ carbon emissions to 10 percent below 2015 levels.’

We are continually identifying, researching, trialling and implementing energy-efficient and low carbon technology. $188 million has been invested in projects since 2009 and has delivered an estimated $189 million in operational cost savings to date. Energy used per store by Australian supermarkets opened in 2015 is a very significant 30 percent less than those opened in 2008. 

Building capacity in our suppliers - climate change risks with a focus on water

Agricultural supply security is an issue of high importance to investors wanting to understand the impact issues such as water shortages and droughts could have on investee company profitability, including through higher prices or reduced availability of supply chain agricultural inputs. We will work with our suppliers to build capacity in managing climate change risks with an initial focus on water. 

Packaging

Most of the products we sell are packaged in some way and can then have additional packaging to protect them during transportation, display or for the customer to carry home. Right along the supply chain, we need to work with our suppliers to make the packaging as efficient as possible without causing any damage to the product. We have the greatest level of control over the packaging of our own brand and exclusive products and this is where we are focusing our efforts to minimise waste.

Woolworths has several organic produce suppliers who have recently adopted recycled packaged and we have completed the total elimination of polystyrene trays from our produce organics supply network coverting to compostable trays or recyclable plastic. We will continue to work with all of our suppliers to actively pursue packaging alternatives that reduce the amount of packaging or increasing its recyclability where possible.

Driven by our commitments to the Australian Packaging Covenant, our progress on packaging can be found here.

Moving to a circular economy

Every year until 2020, we will achieve a year-on-year increase in tonnes of food waste diverted from landfill. This will be done through continuing reduction in stock loss, improving store waste management behaviour and improving the effectiveness of the farmers' program and the food rescue program.

There are significant social benefits from zero waste as the food rescue programs offer continued opportunities to contribute to communities. Our customers expect Woolworths to partner with the community to support food rescue, farmer and regional support. Our farmer and food rescue programs complement reducing our carbon footprint while also adding value to the communities in which we operate.

Australians are avid recyclers and our customers see it as our responsibility to enable them to play their part in protecting the environment by making our packaging recyclable. We therefore have a target to ‘Improve the recyclability of our Own Brand packaging and contribute to the circular economy’. Woolworths will decrease non-recyclable packaging and increase recycled content, for example, working towards the elimination of expanded polystyrene; integrating this requirement into packaging design specifications for each division by 2017 and progressively phasing out expanded polystyrene by 2020. We will also introduce clear, user-friendly recycling instructions.

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