Pressure has been mounting from consumer and environmental groups for retailers to affirm a commitment to axe the use of single-use plastics, given the resurgence of products such as disposable coffee cups throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, the Australian Retailers Association said the federal government should come up with a national plan to phase out single-use items, noting that each state is taking a different approach to winding down use of everything from plastic shopping bags to takeaway containers.
“Retailers understand the important role they have to play in addressing plastic pollution, but the lack of a national approach is making the phase-out of single-use plastics more complex and more costly than necessary and is undermining the effectiveness of the change,” chief executive Paul Zahra said.
Woolworths’ sustainability goals include halving the use of new plastics in packaging by 2024 and making sure its internal brand packaging has at least 60 per cent recycled content by 2025.
Last month, the company confirmed it would phase out sales of its 15 cent reusable plastic bags at Woolworths and Big W stores over the next year.
The retailer has also invested in plastics recycling start-up Samsara, which uses an enzyme technology developed at the Australian National University to break down and recycle plastics in an “infinite loop”.
Fellow supermarket giant Coles has also been focused on reducing new plastic in its stores this year. It rolled out reusable bags that use 80 per cent recycled plastic, 20 per cent of which comes from recycled marine waste.
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