Reducing food waste is a key focus of Coles’ “Together to zero waste” ambition.
Food charity SecondBite has received a $500,000 grant from the Coles Nurture Fund, facilitating the purchase of four new refrigerated trucks.
The grant follows a new five-year agreement between Coles and SecondBite that will increase food collections from Coles’ metropolitan supermarkets from three to five days a week.
The trucks will collect unsold, edible food in bulk from Coles’ distribution centres and redistribute it to charities.
Coles CEO Steven Cain said food donations to SecondBite rose 25 per cent in 2018-19, with Coles expecting those volumes to increase further this year.
“We have an opportunity and responsibility to help fight hunger in Australia by donating our unsold, edible food to people who are vulnerable and facing tough times,” Mr Cain said.
“Everyone deserves to have regular meals and our SecondBite partnership is one of the ways in which we hope to sustainably feed Australians to lead healthier, happier lives.”
Coles diverted 36,392 tonnes of food waste from landfill in 2018-19 through donations to food charities, farmers for animal feed and to be recycled for compost, organic waste and energy.
SecondBite CEO Jim Mullan said the new trucks would allow SecondBite to significantly increase the volume and range of food that could be delivered to charities.
“These trucks – each with a 4.5 tonne capacity and space for eight pallets of food – will make a huge difference to SecondBite’s efficiencies,” Mr Mullan said.
“Rather than making several trips in a van, we will now be able to collect bulk amounts of stock in a single visit.”
According to Mr Mullan, the trucks will also allow SecondBite to transport a greater variety of stock.
“Historically we have been largely confined to collecting fruit and vegetables from Coles distribution centres, but the new refrigerated trucks allow bulk collections of yoghurts, cheese, butter, milk, juice, and other high-risk foods, as well as frozen products.”
Coles has announced it will halve food waste across its supermarkets by 2020, make all packaging of Coles Brand products recyclable and reduce plastic wrapping on fruit and vegetables.
The company has pledged to divert 90 per cent of all supermarket waste, including food, cardboard and plastic, from landfill by 2022 and donate the equivalent of 100 million meals to people in need by 2020 by redistributing surplus food.
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The supermarket giant is also planning to begin phasing out the use of single use plastic bags in its stores on 1 July.
Removing double plastic packaging for fruit, selling bunched vegetables like kale and silver beet without plastic and removing plastic packaging from Coles Brand bananas are among the initiatives planned to reduce plastic waste.
Replacing the packaging for meat and poultry products with recycled and renewable materials and replacing single use fresh produce bags with 30 per cent recycled content are also part of Coles commitments.
The company will also provide its customers with an option to recycle soft plastics at every Coles supermarket across Australia, which can be turned into outdoor furniture and road base.
Coles Managing Director John Durkan said Coles wanted to lead the way in its commitment to the environment.
“We know that 69 per cent of customers say that we need to actively reduce waste and landfill through recyclable packaging and find alternative uses for waste,” he said.
“We are delighted to be the only Australian supermarket to sell own brand water bottles that are both 100 per cent recyclable and 100 per cent made from recycled materials. Now we are the first major food retailer in Australia to announce a target to make all of our own brand packaging recyclable by 2020, ahead of the Federal Government’s target of 2025.”
The company also plans to connect every Coles store with Food rescue program SecondBite, meaning surplus edible food from supermarkets will be redistributed to people in need.
Mr Durkan said connecting an additional 130 supermarkets to SecondBite will also divert further waste from landfill.
“By 2020, we want to provide the equivalent of 100 million meals to Australians in need. Since 2011, we’ve donated around 72 million meals to SecondBite and Foodbank so we’ve still got 28 million meals to go.”
Coles has also pledged that it will label all Coles Brand products with recycling information to assist consumers when it comes to disposing of their waste.