Aiming for zero waste

Zero-waste status can be granted to businesses that divert more than 90% of their waste from landfill. As we get closer to this 90% mark, we renew our commitment to aim for a true 100% and to be transparent about our progress. We know the last percentage points will be the most difficult to achieve.

In 2019, 98% of paper/cardboard in stores was recycled, 87% of polybags and shrink wrap and 27% of co-mingled recycling. 

Our priorities

As part of our goal for net zero environmental harm from our business, we have a number of priorities to reach zero-waste status. 

Operate only zero-waste facilities

We started by auditing waste across our network. We use waste scorecards to create ‘green scores’ for each of our stores to show which waste streams they recycle. This helps us understand where we need to integrate recycling bins.

Our priority list of waste materials to recycle:

1) Soft plastic (mainly polybags and shrink wrap)
2) Cardboard and paper
3) Damaged stock
4) Co-mingled recycling
5) Silica gel pouches

Priority number 1: Polybags

We are exploring alternatives to plastic polybags with an intent to remove these from the supply chain. Before this happens, we are exploring ways to recycle polybags. With Australia ceasing its importation of soft plastics from New Zealand, we are working with the Packaging Forum to find new ways to recycle our soft plastics. 

Australia remains our biggest challenge as the recycling streams are controlled by shopping centres and landlords.

Have 100% sustainable packaging materials by 2025

The packaging department is a place where small things can add up to make a big difference. A few years ago, we consolidated our packaging suppliers and used the Avery Dennison Greenprint packaging audit tool to assess the footprint of our packaging options across six factors – fossil material, trees, water, energy, CO2 and waste.

Last year, we converted the final pieces of our packaging to soy-based inks and Forest Stewardship Council-certified card.

Re-use programs

To achieve our target, we will have plastic and mixed waste recycling into every one of our stores by 2018. We’re searching for reuse programs for the hard-to-recycle stuff.

For instance, REDGroup has developed and implemented the REDcycle program: a service that collects soft plastics to make products. In Australia, REDcycle partners with plastic manufacturer, Replas, to create plastic products such as benches, table settings, bollards, and decking. To date, over 400 million pieces of plastic have been diverted from landfill.

Empowering our team

A big part of the program is bringing all our stores along on the journey — to give them the power and incentives to find their own solutions.

In 2015, we put soft plastic recycling bins into the Dunedin store, the Melbourne CBD store, and the Melbourne Distribution Centre. For the distribution centre, this brought the percentage of plastic recycling up from approximately 65% to 91%.

Waste strategy is now built into our store development program so that recycling is considered when each new store is being planned.