Coles Group has announced its commitment to reducing plastic waste by no longer selling single-use plastic tableware products including cups, plates, bowls, straws and cutlery from 1 July 2021*.
The move will “divert 1.5 million kilograms worth of single-use plastic from landfill each year.”
As an alternative to single-use plastic, customers will instead be offered a range of FSC certified tableware and reusable options.
The commitment applies to plastic single-use tableware products sold at Coles Supermarkets, Coles Express outlets, and Coles Liquor stores – more than 2500 sites.
“The change is overwhelmingly supported among customers, with a recent Coles survey showing 65% of customers are concerned about the environmental impacts of single use plastic tableware and prefer sustainable alternatives.”
Coles CEO Steven Cain says Coles is committed to environmental leadership.
“This important initiative will not only divert more than 1.5 million kilograms of plastic from landfill each year, it will also help our customers who are telling us they want to make more sustainable choices,” he says.
“As a company, we already divert 79% [as at 30 June 2020] of our waste from landfill and have recycled more than 1 billion pieces of flexible plastic with the support of REDcycle and our customers, since 2011.”
Clean Up Australia Chairman Pip Kiernan says single-use plastic tableware is a big problem for the environment.
“During 2020, Clean Up Australia volunteers told us that 18.5% of the plastic items removed through their efforts were single-use cups, plates, bowls, straws, stirrers and cutlery,” she says.
“Too many of these items end up in our parks, waterways, beaches and roadsides and if left there damage our precious environment for hundreds of years, outliving all of us.”
“We applaud Coles for listening to their customers and taking the lead in replacing these single use plastic items.”
Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans MP says: “The Morrison Government is on a mission to reduce waste going to landfill in Australia, and we applaud Coles’ initiative to stop selling single-use plastic tableware products.
“Every company that takes action to reduce problematic or unnecessary plastics, takes us one step closer towards a more sustainable Australia and is a win for our environment.”
*The phase-out across Coles Group outlets will be complete by 1 July 2021, with stores in South Australia phasing out the legislated single-use plastic tableware by 1 March 2021, in line with South Australian law.
ALDI Australia stopped selling single use plastic tableware products in 2020.
“We congratulate Coles for following our lead and encourage all retailers to consider their impact on the environment,” the retailer said.
ALDI Australia’s commitments announced in 2019 can be found here.
Woolworths has been working on a transition away from single use plastic tableware as it seeks to reduce problematic materials and respond to different planned legislation across a number of states.
A spokesperson for Woolworths said: “Woolworths has gone above and beyond new SA legislation coming into effect next month by removing disposable plastic cups, bowls and plates, in addition to cutlery. As part of its phased transition Woolworths will gather feedback from customers to ensure it has the right offering to support shoppers ahead of future changes in other states.
“We stopped selling plastic straws across our stores in 2018, and were the first national supermarket to remove single use plastic bags nationwide.
“As we continue to phase out unnecessary plastics, our customers can expect to see disposable plastic tableware replaced with an expanded range of sustainable alternatives in the near future.
“We’re working on a phased transition with our suppliers starting in South Australia where we’ve recently removed disposable plastic cutlery, cups, bowls and plates.
“We’re also committed to a better tomorrow for our customers and their communities by reducing plastic in our own brand packaging and making it completely recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2023.”