Saturday, April 13, 2024

Coles ‘2021 Sustainability Report’ reveals record food donations

In a year when many Australians experienced severe hardship as a result of Covid-19, Coles donated record food volumes to its community partners to help feed Australians in need.

The food donations were a key component of an unprecedented community contribution in FY21, as Coles worked with customers, team members and suppliers to contribute $143 million in support to communities across Australia.

As revealed in Coles’ 2021 Sustainability Report released today, the $143 million in community support comprised more than $124.4 million from Coles in cash, in-kind support, management costs and time, and $18.6 million contributed by Coles’ customers, team members and suppliers from activities such as fundraising.

Coles’ in-kind support included more than 18 million kilograms in food donations – equivalent to over 35 million meals – from its supermarkets and distribution centres to national community partners SecondBite and Foodbank, to feed Australians facing tough times.

Coles has donated the equivalent of 185.2 million meals to people in need since forming partnerships with SecondBite in 2011 and Foodbank in 2003.

Among its sustainability highlights for the year include:

  • Coles diverted 80.6 per cent of solid waste from landfill
  • Coles committed to no more giveaways of plastic or recycled plastic collectible toys
  • More than 1.6 billion pieces of soft plastic have been returned to Coles Supermarkets since 2011 through a recycling partnership with REDcycle.

Coles Group CEO Steven Cain said Coles’ sustainability achievements in FY21 were part of its Together to Zero/Better Together strategy to drive generational sustainability and create a better Australia in the future.

“Our long-term aspiration is for zero emissions, zero waste and zero hunger and we are grateful to our customers, team members, suppliers and community partners for working with us toward these goals,” he said.

“By working better together with our long-standing partnerships with SecondBite and Foodbank, we were able to provide unprecedented food donations from our stores and distribution centres, and have them redistributed to food charities across Australia. Not only did this help feed vulnerable people facing hardship but importantly it also helped to reduce food waste.”

“Better Together recognises that when we work together, we can make a real difference to our team, our suppliers, our customers and to the communities in which we live and work.”

SecondBite Co-Founder Simone Carson said Coles’ food donations had been vital amid the increase in demand for food relief.

“The past 12 months have been especially hard for communities across Australia impacted by Covid-19 and still recovering from bushfires. Demand for food skyrocketed and access to fresh, nutritious food has been vital. We would not have been able to respond to those in need without the 16.7 million kilograms of fresh produce donated by Coles,” she said.

“When my husband Ian and I started SecondBite, our vision was to become a leading national food rescue organisation. Our partnership with Coles over the past 10 years has truly enabled SecondBite to grow our reach and impact across Australia. We are so proud that together we’ve rescued and distributed the equivalent of more than 151 million meals to those doing it tough in our communities. There’s still so much to do as the need from the community is growing.”

Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey said Coles and Foodbank shared a vision to sustainably feed all Australians.

“We believe everyone should have access to essential food, especially in times of hardship. More than 815,000 people a month were accessing food relief through the Foodbank network before the Black Summer bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic. That number has grown significantly at various times throughout the last year and is likely to rise further as the knock-on effects of these events will be felt for years to come,” she said.

“We are proud to partner with Coles as we strive towards a shared purpose of sustainably feeding all Australians. Food relief, delivered with dignity and at scale, is crucial in achieving this outcome.”

To read the Coles 2021 Sustainability Report, click here.

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