Woolworths further reduces plastic packaging

Even during the  COVID-19, 70 per cent of Australians are continuing to rank taking care of the planet and making sustainable choices as important to them, according to research revealed by Woolworths Group for World Environment Day.

Woolworths has introduced a number of initiatives to further reduce plastic across a range of fruit and vegetables, including bananas, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, broccolini, sweet potatoes and organic apples.

By moving out of 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 per cent in weight on carrots and potatoes, Woolworths has removed  237 tonnes of plastic packaging in the past year.

The tray Woolworths uses for its sweet potatoes and organic apples is now made of recycled cardboard, rather than plastic.

Woolworths has also commenced a trial of where it will switch plastic packaging in its Fresh Food Kids range of apples, pears and bananas to easy-to-recycle cardboard boxes.

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

“While we’ve made pleasing 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 to meet our customers and our own aspirations.” said Banducci.

Since Woolworths removed single-use plastic bags in 2018, more than 6 billion bags have been taken out of circulation. Earlier this week, W oolworths also started to offer paper shopping bags, made out of 70 per cent  recycled paper, for customers to purchase to carry their shopping home in.

In the past year, approx 10,600 shopping trolleys worth of soft plastics have been recycled through its in-store RedCycle program. Woolworths also removed a total of 890 tonnes of plastic from its fruit, vegetables and bakery ranges over the past two years.

This means that all Woolworths stores now have food waste diversion partners in place and in the last year alone, the supermarket has diverted over 33,000 tonnes of food waste from landfill to our food relief partners or donated to farmers as feed stock.

Nestlé creates market for food-grade recycled plastics

Nestlé has announced that it will invest up to $3 billion to lead the shift from virgin plastics to food-grade recycled plastics and to accelerate the development of innovative sustainable packaging solutions.

Building on its 2018 commitment to make 100 per cent of its packaging recyclable or reusable by 2025, Nestlé will reduce its use of virgin plastics by one third in the same period whilst working with others to advance the circular economy and endeavor to clean up plastic waste from oceans, lakes and rivers.

Food quality and safety are paramount, and packaging plays a major role in assuring this. Most plastics are difficult to recycle for food packaging, leading to a limited supply of food-grade recycled plastics. To create a market, Nestlé is therefore committed to sourcing up to two million metric tons of food-grade recycled plastics and allocating more than $2.5 billion to pay a premium for these materials between now and 2025. Nestlé will seek operational efficiencies to keep this initiative earnings neutral.

READ MORE: Néstle commits to zero net emissions by 2050

Packaging innovation, including new materials, refill systems and recycling solutions, is another key challenge on the path towards a waste-free future. In addition to its significant inhouse research through the Nestlé Institute of Packaging Sciences, the company will launch a $375 million sustainable packaging venture fund to invest in start-up companies that focus on these areas.

These two initiatives come in addition to Nestlé’s major ongoing efforts in research, sourcing and manufacturing to make its packaging recyclable or reusable and contribute to its goal to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. As part of the company’s packaging commitment and to increase transparency, Nestlé will continue to outline further initiatives and provide regular progress updates.

“No plastic should end up in landfill or as litter,” said Mark Schneider, CEO of Nestlé. “Making recycled plastics safe for food is an enormous challenge for our industry. That is why in addition to minimizing plastics use and collecting waste, we want to close the loop and make more plastics infinitely recyclable. We are taking bold steps to create a wider market for food-grade recycled plastics and boost innovation in the packaging industry. We welcome others to join us on this journey.”

“We are pleased to see Nestlé commit a $3 billion investment toward creating a circular economy for plastics, alongside a reduction of its use of virgin plastic in packaging by one third by 2025. By eliminating the plastics we don’t need, innovating in areas like reuse models and new materials, and circulating the plastics we do need — also in more challenging food grade applications — we can create an economy where plastic never becomes waste. Achieving the commitments announced today will significantly contribute towards realizing this vision,” said Andrew Morlet, CEO, Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Nestlé pledges increase in recycled plastics in the European Union

Nestlé is making a significant increase in the amount of recycled plastics it uses in some of its packaging in the European Union.

By 2025, bottles, PET layer in laminates, caps on glass jars and tins, trays for meat products and shrink films for display trays will all contain at least between 25 per cent and 50 per cent recycled material, depending on the packaging type.

The pledge comes following Nestlé’s global packaging ambition, announced in April this year, where the company aims to make 100 per cent of its packaging recyclable or re-usable by 2025.

Nestlé CEO for Zone Europe, Middle East and North Africa Marco Settembri said he was proud that the company was already taking first concrete steps to achieve its packaging ambitions.

READ: Nestlé aims to accelerate pace towards equal pay for equal work

“Nestlé supports the plastics strategy of the European Union.

“We share the vision that no plastic packaging ends up in the environment. Recyclable packaging, good recycling infrastructure and more use of recycled material will help us close the loop,” said Settembri.

PET bottles will contain at least 25 per cent rPET (Polyethylene terephthalate).

By 2025 the PET layer in the respective laminates will contain 25 per cent rPET.

By 2025 the caps on Nestlé’s glass jars and tins will contain 30 per cent rPP (recycled Polypropylene).

By 2025 the trays for our meat products will contain 50 per cent rPET.

By 2025 the shrink films for display trays will contain 50 per cent rPE (recycled Polyethylene).

Nestlé’s announcement contributes to the voluntary pledging exercise on recycled content by the European Commission.


Machine turns tonnes of food scraps into wastewater in Melbourne

A machine installed by City of Melbourne has stopped more than 60 tonnes of garbage from going to landfill in the past year by turning food scraps into wastewater.

In the 12 months to June 2018, the Orca aerobic digestion system used micro-organisms to transform 62 tonnes of food scraps from the Degraves Street café precinct into greywater, making it one of the most heavily used machines of its type in operation in Australia.

Orca Enviro Systems executive general manager Tas Papas said micro-organisms in the unit digested the waste, creating wastewater that went straight into the sewer system via a grease arrestor.

“The Orca is basically a mechanical stomach that digests fruit, vegetables, grains, dairy and proteins, so you end up with greywater that is safe to put into the drain without resorting to landfill,” said Papas.

READ: App takes bite out of food waste

“Degraves Street cafes set aside food waste as part of their daily operations. By diverting the food waste from landfill, we are also able to prevent greenhouse gases from escaping into the environment,” he said.

“Over the course of a year, that also means more than 8,000 litres in diesel fuel is saved because fewer trucks are needed on the road. Orca has helped City of Melbourne to build strong support among local businesses for food recycling efforts and keep the bustling precinct clean and appealing,” said Papas.

With food scraps generated from this busy café district increasing and with space at a premium, Orca was chosen to handle the increased volume of food waste.

It is part of a new wave of food recycling technology that is rolling out across Australia in shopping centres, food courts, hotels and pubs.

The machine was installed in the Degraves Street recycling facility in May 2017.

Orca focuses on reducing business’ environmental impact through the better management of organic food waste.

To do this, it partnered with Totally Green as the exclusive distributor of the Orca food waste system in Australia.


Queenslanders to receive refund for recycling drink containers

From the 1st of November, Queenslanders will receive a refund for recycling drink containers.

The Queensland government’s container refund scheme will see people getting 10 cents back for recycling eligible containers at a range of outlets.

Minister for environment Leeanne Enoch said the scheme would encourage recycling while also reducing the amount of plastic seen in the environment.

“There will be a range of different type of refund point options such as permanent depot-style points, bag drops and reverse vending machines. Some container refund points will be mobile and use the ‘pop up’ concept to ensure the reach of our scheme extends into regional and remote areas,” said Enoch.

READ: Recycling crisis has employers eyeing sustainability skills

“By providing a range of convenient and accessible refund point solutions, more Queenslanders will be able to participate in and benefit from the scheme,” she said.

Not-for-profit group Container Exchange has been appointed to run the scheme. The company is implementing 230 refund points.

“There has also been strong interest from community groups about participating as donation points. These donations points will allow Queenslanders to donate their containers to a charity, community group or school, allowing these groups to get the 10-cent refund,” said Enoch.

“Mobile collection points provide a perfect solution for these groups, and for them, it could be as simple as setting-up a temporary collection point at the local football game on a Sunday to collect the empty drink containers. This will allow our vital charities and community groups to be able to raise money for their projects and programs,” she said.

Container Exchange acting chairman Alby Taylor said there was a great opportunity for community groups and sporting clubs to register as a part of the scheme.

“As we approach the commencement date, the community will see the options available to them to be able to benefit from the container refund scheme,” said Taylor.

“We are currently touring the state, in conjunction with Boomerang Alliance, holding community forums in various towns, to educate Queenslanders about the scheme. So far our forums have attracted nearly 1000 registrations,” he said.