'Positive change': Woolworths reaches major environmental milestone

Woolworths says it has saved the equivalent to the annual amount of rubbish which could be generated by 320,000 homes from landfill in this past year.

The impressive statistic was revealed in the company’s most recent Sustainability Report released on Monday.

The report reveals that over the past year, the Australian Woolworths Group operations contributed to saving 80 per cent of waste from landfill by making changes across their Woolworths supermarkets and BIG W stores.

Woolworths says a main contributing factor to the successful diversion from landfill is their relationship with partners like OzHarvest, FareShare and Foodbank.

Exterior view of Woolworths Miranda. Source: Getty Images
Woolworths was also named Green Supermarket of the Year by Finder. Source: Getty Images

Over the past 12 months, surplus food from stores has been distributed through these partners to feed Australians in need. In this time the equivalent of 22 million meals has been donated.

Food that isn’t suitable for distribution by these partners is donated to farmers and wildlife organisations, stopping it from going to waste.

Woolworths reduces environmental footprint

In May, Woolworths announced they had saved 9,000 tonnes of plastic from ending up in landfill since beginning its sustainability initiative in 2017.

The latest report echoed these efforts with the supermarket cutting back on 2,500 tonnes of plastic packaging from its own brand and fresh products.

This includes changes to plastics on products like meat and produce trays.

“This has been a foundational year. We’re setting our teams up to ensure sustainability is core to what we do - from stores to distribution centres, support offices and supply chains,” Woolworths Group Chief Sustainability Officer, Alex Holt said.

Woolworths new more environmentally conscious packaging. Source: Woolworths
Woolworths has saved 2,500 tonnes of plastic removed from Woolworths’ own brand and fresh packaging over 12 months. Source: Woolworths

Single-use plastics have also been reduced in stores and plastic-stemmed cotton buds have been removed from stores and replaced with paper and sugarcane alternatives.

The company says this change alone has kept almost 500 million pieces of plastic from landfill in the past year.

In addition, the retailer rolled out solar panels in stores and distribution centres with a total solar power network of 100,000 panels - enough to generate energy to power more than 7,000 homes.

These steps taken by the retailer are part of the store’s Sustainability Plan 2025 which was released in November last year.

Solar panels make up a Woolworths logo on a store roof. Source: Woolworths Group
Woolworths has expanded its solar network to 100,000 panels across stores and distribution centres. Source: Woolworths Group

The plan outlines the steps long term commitment to take more carbon out of the atmosphere than the company produces by 2050.

In the past 12 months, the company has cut carbon emissions, to the equivalent of taking more than 35,000 cars off the road.

Woolworths listening to customers

Research by Woolworths found that customers' top environmental priorities include reducing plastic, cutting food waste and recycling.

“The steps we take to become a more sustainable business today will create a better tomorrow for generations to come,” Woolworths Group Chief Executive Officer, Brad Banducci said.

“We know there’s much more to do and we’re laying the groundwork for an era of accelerated sustainability to meet the pace of our customer’s and team’s expectations, and the climate clock.

“It’s no longer enough to just reduce our impact on the planet. Instead, we’re turning to how we can use our scale for good and create positive change for our planet, and in turn, our communities.”

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