Major Aussie supermarkets promise to slash use of plastic in stores by 2020

05 June 2018

As the war on plastic intensifies, supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths have announced they will slash the amount of plastic products they sell and reduce the use of plastic packaging in-store. 

To coincide with World Environment Day on June 5, the supermarkets named a range of measures to tackle plastic waste and increase recycling efforts in all stores nationwide. 

WHAT THEY PROMISE

Coles will:

  • Remove plastic wrapping from its bananas and other fresh produce
  • Replace meat and poultry product packaging with recycled and renewable materials
  • Provide a service for customers to be able to recycle soft plastics at every Coles supermarket so the material can be converted into products including outdoor furniture and road base
  • Aim to reduce food waste from its supermarkets and make all packaging of its branded products recyclable by 2020
  • Aim to divert 90 per cent of all supermarket waste including food, cardboard and plastic away from landfills by 2022

Woolworths will:

  • Ban the sale of plastic straws by the end of 2018
  • Expand its program to remove plastic wrap from fruit and vegetables include another 80 products
  • Have a food waste recycling partner at 100 per cent of its supermarkets by the end of this year

The commitments are in addition to the single-use plastic bag ban due to take effect in Queensland on July 1, bringing the state in line with Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, ACT and Western Australia.

WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

The commitments are a major boost for the environment, with studies showing plastic pollution is the gravest threat to our oceans and a major killer of marine wildlife. Most single-use plastic items like straws, coffee cups, plastic bags, water bottles and food wrappers are non-biodegradable, meaning they potentially last hundreds of years sitting in landfill and polluting the landscape. 

When plastic items aren't properly disposed of, they often end up in our waterways and oceans, where confused wildlife like turtles and birds mistake the plastic for food and ingest it. Often, it's a fatal mistake. Even when these items do eventually break down, the tiny pieces of plastic easily pass through water filtration system and are consumed by fish and other marine life. It's a vicious cycle.

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Every little action you take can help reduce the problem just a little. Here's some tips to cut your use of plastics and stop the cycle before it becomes deadly:

  • Take your own re-usable cotton bags when you go shopping
  • Avoid buying bottled water and carry a re-usable water bottle instead. Check out Healthy Land and Water's go2zone initiative for more information
  • Buy loose fruit and veggies when you go shopping
  • Replace your plastic toothbrush with a bamboo alternative
  • Avoid buying coffee in plastic cups and take along a keep-cup or a mug instead