Coles removes single-use plastic tableware

From tomorrow, Coles will no longer sell single-use plastic tableware.

The items will be replaced with a wide range of alternatives including Forest Stewardship Council certified tableware like timber cutlery and paper plates and reusable options.

Clean Up Australia Chairman Pip Kiernan says her organisation knows this is the change the community wants to see.

“Earlier this year, we surveyed 9000 of our Clean Up Australia volunteers and 95% of them were strongly supportive of the phasing out of problematic single use plastics,” she says.

“It’s heartening to see Coles making impactful changes to reduce waste to landfill and providing customers with options that are kinder on the planet.

“These items are not recyclable, they are designed to be used once and discarded, going to landfill and many ending up in our environment as litter. Last year our volunteers reported that over half of all items they collected were plastic or contained plastic.”

The removal of single-use plastic tableware comes as Coles Group today releases its Sustainability Strategy. This sets out the retailer’s plans to work with customers, suppliers, team members and the community to achieve its ambitions centred around the two pillars of Together to Zero and Better Together.

The Federal Minister for the Environment, the Hon Sussan Ley MP, congratulates Coles on delivering its sustainability strategy.

“It is pleasing to see this initiative from Coles, which reflects the Morrison government’s commitments to increase plastic recycling, find alternatives to unnecessary plastics and reduce the impact of plastic on the environment,” she says.

“We welcome Coles’ leadership, providing their customers alternatives to single use plastic tableware products, which will result in an annual diversion of 1.5 million kilograms of single use plastic from landfill.”

About the strategy

The Coles Group Sustainability Strategy is aligned with and supports the achievement of nine of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs). This includes zero hunger, good health and well-being, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water and life on land.

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain says the retailer’s purpose to sustainably feed all Australians to help them lead healthier, happier lives is aligned with and supports the achievement of the UNSDGs.

“Under our important new sustainability pillars – Together to Zero and Better Together – we have set our aspirations and the pathway to meet the many challenges and opportunities we face,” he says.

“Our strategy is focussed on acting together now for generations of Australians ahead. We understand our responsibility to minimise our environmental footprint and to show leadership in protecting our planet and climate. We have identified powerful initiatives across how we use energy, how we can move towards a circular economy, as well as how we will continue to improve our sustainable sourcing.

“We are not working alone. Our relationships with our team members, shareholders, farmers, suppliers, partners, customers and communities drive our sustainability agenda forward. We want to win together in the best interests of all, including through our Australian First Sourcing Policy.

“We have already made meaningful progress on our commitment to be powered by 100% renewable electricity by the end of FY25. We are proud that we were the first Australian retailer to announce a power purchase agreement and that the first of these solar farms in Corowa, NSW has become fully operational. We have landmark renewable electricity agreements with Lal Lal Windfarms, CleanCo, ENGIE and Neoen. These combined renewable electricity agreements provide enough to power more than 750 average sized supermarkets.

“Coles Group is building on its important community partnerships including with food rescue organisation SecondBite and soft plastics recycler REDcycle. Since 2011, Coles has helped SecondBite provide the equivalent of more than 145 million meals to Australians in need through more than 1,000 community organisations. With REDcycle, Coles has facilitated the collection of more than 1.5 billion pieces of customers’ soft plastic to be recycled into furniture, children’s playground equipment, roads and even Coles carparks.”

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