Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths are stepping up their war on plastic, introducing new targets to slash the amount of wrapping on fresh fruit and vegetables as well as tackling food waste.
The retailers on Monday committed to going further than their previous announcements to ditch single-use plastic bags in response to demands from consumers.
Woolies announced it would be banning the sale of plastic straws by year’s end. The decision will stop more than 134 million plastic straws from being circulated.
“While we’ve made progress in reducing the amount of plastic in our stores … we know that more needs to be done to meet our customers’ expectations,” Woolworths chief executive Brad Banducci said.
Coles pledged to reduce plastic wrapping on fruit and veges, including bunches of bananas, kale and silver beet, and replace meat and poultry packaging with recycled and renewable materials.
It set itself a deadline of 2020 to halve food waste from its supermarkets and make all packaging of its home-brand products recyclable.
The retailer will also donate the equivalent of 100 million meals to people in need by redistributing surplus food.
Greenpeace Australia welcomed the move by the retailers as a step in the right direction.
“Obviously Greenpeace would like to see a phase-out of all single-use plastics across-the-board because we know that plastics is a looming problem for our environment and our society,” a spokesman told AAP.
“People are infuriated by this. You only have to do a search on social media and see people enraged by apples wrapped in plastic.
“Plastic bags are used on average for seven minutes and then last for hundreds of years.”
Woolworths and Coles last July joined the push to rid Australia of disposable plastic bags, and set a deadline of June 30, 2018 for their stores to stop offering them to shoppers. Woolworths later brought forward that deadline to June 20.
The step-up in the campaign against waste by Coles and Woolies comes a week after the European Union outlined plans for a ban on single-use plastics including straws, cutlery and cotton buds.