Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Coles highlights sustainability achievements

Coles has donated a record 40.1 million equivalent meals to people in need this year, according to the retailer’s 2023 Sustainability Report. This is up from 37.5 million meals the previous year.

The report, released this week, states that a total of 20.3 million kilograms of unsold, edible food, valued at $133 million, that might otherwise go to landfill, was provided to vulnerable Australians through community partners SecondBite and Foodbank in the last financial year.

Coles notes a number of other efforts from the 2023 Sustainability Report:

  • 41.5% of women are in leadership roles against a target of 40% and a company-wide gender pay parity gap of less than 1%.
  • 5% of all team members identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, up from 3.2% in FY22.
  • The retailer has achieved a 27.7% reduction in Scope 1 and 2 emissions from FY22 and is committed to reducing Scope 3 emissions by working with 75% of suppliers.
  • Coles has removed soft-plastic shopping bags from in-store and online which is estimated to remove approximately 230 million plastic bags from circulation each year.
  • Coles has provided a total of $40.7 million in community support to promote health outcomes and build resilience in our communities.
  • The retailer has awarded $3.6 million to small to medium sized businesses through the Coles Nurture Fund to help them innovate and grow.

An ‘opportunity and responsibility’

Coles Chief Operations and Sustainability Officer Matt Swindells says Coles has an opportunity and a responsibility to make a difference in the community.

“We understand many of our customers are finding themselves in need of food relief services, and we’re pleased to have been able to provide the equivalent of 40.1 million meals to Aussies in need in the last financial year. Not only does this support the community, but it also helps to address the environmental impacts associated with food waste,” he says.

“We’ve also made strong progress when it comes to gender equality, with 41.5% of women now holding leadership positions and a company-wide gender pay parity gap of less than 1%.

“Creating a safe and inclusive workplace for our more than 120,000 team members is also a key priority and that’s been reflected in our decision to be a presenting partner of Sydney WorldPride and in our increasing number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander team members, now at 3.5%.”

Renewable electricity

During the year, Coles announced new renewable electricity agreements that aim to bring the retailer closer to achieving its target of 100% renewable electricity by the end of FY25.

Coles has entered a three-year agreement with Origin that will see the installation of 20 megawatts of solar panels on top of 100 stores, with batteries to be installed at one third of the retailer’s stores to capture and store excess renewable electricity generated on-site.

Modern slavery

Coles has also released its 2023 Modern Slavery Statement which outlines its approach to identifying and managing modern slavery risks in its operations and supply chain.

The 2023 statement focuses on Coles’ strategy to identify, address and remediate the risk of modern slavery within its operations and supply chain.

Key areas of focus include:

  • How Coles might integrate modern slavery risk management across its business.
  • The development of proactive and retail specific responses to modern slavery.
  • The importance of partnerships with suppliers and other key stakeholders in combating modern slavery.
  • Increasing transparency about the challenges and lessons learned.

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