Coles launches new sustainability initiative

The supermarket chain has launched an ambitious new sustainability program covering power, recycling, packaging and a new logo

Coles is launching a new sustainability strategy built around the theme of ‘Together to Zero’, including targets to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a commitment to 100 per cent renewable electricity and the ambition to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Coles Group CEO, Steven Cain, said the supermarket chain wants to drive generational sustainability. “A key part of our ambition to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket will be reducing our environmental impact, and we have a responsibility to help create a better Australia for future generations,” said Cain.

This new sustainability initiative comes as Coles has signed an agreement with Lal Lal Wind Farms near Ballarat, Victoria, to purchase large-scale generation certificates for renewable electricity until the end of 2030. The supermarket will buy enough certificates to further increase its renewable electricity to 45 per cent of total consumption by FY23.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific has welcomed the announcement. Greenpeace Australia Pacific REenergise campaign director, Lindsay Soutar, said Coles’ commitment to clean energy has far-reaching implications.

“Emissions are down, down, down as Coles shifts away from coals, and towards 100 per cent renewable electricity,” said Soutar. “Coles making the clean energy switch will put a big dent in Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, inspiring confidence in towns and cities across the country that even the biggest and most complex businesses can run on renewable energy.

“All three of Australia’s biggest supermarkets have now committed to 100 per cent clean electricity, meaning the goods and services Australians use every day will soon be brought to us by the wind and sun. Combined with the large-scale renewable power purchases Coles has already made, today’s announcement sees them swipe the retailer renewable energy crown from rival Woolworths - for now.”

Together to Zero – emissions, waste and hunger

'Together to Zero' also involves a long-term aspiration towards zero emissions, zero waste and zero hunger, with Coles looking for ways to reduce waste, greenhouse gas emissions and help Australians in need.

It includes initiative such as no longer selling single-use plastic tableware products including cups, plates, bowls, straws and cutlery from mid-2021 and undertaking a joint feasibility study on the benefits of a local advanced recycling industry in Victoria, the first steps into a circular economy for soft plastic packaging.

Reducing plastic packaging from fresh produce, making available reusable cardboard boxes, boosting recycled content in plastic bags, and new ‘package-less’ refill stations that dispense laundry soaps, household detergents, bodywash, handwash, shampoo and conditioner from major Australian brands such as Omo, Surf and Sukin.

The new sustainability pillar ‘Together to Zero’ will also become a key part of Coles’ visual identity with a new sustainability logo. Designed by Bundjalung/ Biripi artist, Nikita Ridgeway, of Boss Lady Design and Communication, the logo has been designed to reflect the notion of community.

Coles is the largest private sector employer of Indigenous Australians so it’s meaningful that the logo has been designed to foster conversations between the Indigenous community and the broader Australian community, as part of Coles’ ongoing mission to encourage non-Indigenous Australians to learn more about Aboriginal Culture and People,” Nikita said.

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