Cleanaway and Coles team up over waste initiative

A Coles supermarket in Sydney’s west has become the first Australian supermarket to trial zero waste to landfill, as one of several initiatives to help Coles meet its commitment to become Australia’s most sustainable supermarket.

As part of a trial, the supermarket in Wentworth Point is sending zero waste to landfill, preventing the equivalent of 6 ½ shopping trolleys going to landfill each day.

The purpose of the trial is to change in-store processes, put greater focus on source separation, and to partner with new facilities to use waste as a resource. This will mean more packaged and unpackaged food, cardboard, plastic, metal, glass, wax boxes, polystyrene and timber will be diverted from landfill.

Coles Chief Property and Export Officer Thinus Keeve says the trial of a zero waste to landfill store will help Coles find new ways to reduce waste in stores.

“Waste management is a key component of the sustainability of any business and reducing waste is a very important issue for our customers,” said Reeve. “Everyone knows Australia has challenges in how we deal with our waste. That goes for everyone from households sorting their recycling to businesses like Coles. We all have a responsibility to play our part.”

READ MORE: Challenges abound for food waste solutions

The zero waste to landfill trial store will find new ways to recover residual dry waste such as mixed plastic and timber which historically has been the most difficult to divert from landfill.

Coles is partnering with Cleanaway to recover energy from this waste through the Cleanaway ResourceCo Recovery Facility (RRF) in Wetherill Park. The facility uses dry waste to produce Process Engineered Fuel (PEF), which is then used to offset the demands of heavy industry for fossil fuels.

Cleanaway’s Alex Hatherley, Regional Manager, Solid Waste Services NSW, said “This is a great solution for Coles stores that produce high volumes of mixed back-of-house plastics but want to achieve a zero waste to landfill goal.”

“Our facility is unique in its ability to divert commercial dry waste from landfill, recover recyclable materials and then convert the remaining combustibles to a sustainable fuel source, PEF.” Alex explained.

Doug Elliss, General Manager of the Cleanaway ResourceCo Wetherill Park facility said, “We’re playing a key role in Australia’s future sustainable energy mix by reducing waste that would otherwise go to landfill and lowering carbon emissions through production of a commercially viable sustainable fuel.”

The trial comes as Coles Group has released its first Sustainability Report as a stand-alone publicly listed company which sets out Coles commitment to reducing its environmental impact including working towards diverting 90% of waste from landfill by 2022.

“At Coles, we are proud of our partnership with food rescue services Secondbite and Foodbank. Through our supermarkets and distribution centres we donated 12.5 million kilograms of unsold edible food to SecondBite and Foodbank last financial year — the equivalent of 25 million meals for people in need,” Thinus said.

“Many supermarkets also provide food waste directly to farmers to use as animal feed. These stores across our Coles network donated 13.8 million kilograms to farmers last financial year, an increase of 11 per cent.”

“But there is always more that we can do. Everything we can’t give to SecondBite we want to give to farmers to feed their animals, recycle into compost or convert to energy.”

“We were the first Australian supermarket to offer REDcycle plastic recycling in every store. We were the first Australian supermarket to sign a renewable energy PPA, which will see Coles sourcing 10 per cent of its national energy needs from three solar farms in regional NSW.”

“We are now the first Australian supermarket to attempt a zero waste to landfill store. Coles is passionate about driving generational sustainability with innovation that reduces environmental impact.