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With the recent signing on of Aldi, Coles and Woolworths to the ANZPAC Plastics Pact, the initiative now boasts the big three Australian supermarkets in the fold, taking a step closer to radically reducing the amount of plastic used on our shelves.

The agreement sets specific goals for the supermarket giants to achieve by 2025, such as making sure their plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable. Unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging will also be eliminated during this time.

“As well as a growing problem locally, plastic waste is also fundamentally an international one, and to tackle plastic waste effectively we need to find solutions that aren’t constrained by national borders or old ways of thinking,” said Brooke Donnelly, CEO of Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO).

“What we’re really trying to address here is a systemic problem that says the plastics system is actually broken. Our take, make and dispose approach means too much plastics waste is ending up in landfill.

“If no action is taken, by 2040 the volume of plastic on the market would double, and the amount of plastic entering the ocean would almost triple. So, we really need a radical intervention.”

For Aldi, the decision to become a signatory demonstrates its dedication to driving industry innovation to minimise plastics across the whole supply chain.

To support this goal, Aldi has already phased out unnecessary single-use plastics such as tableware and plastic cotton buds from its range, saving 322 tonnes of plastic and 357 million plastic cotton bud stems from entering the environment.

“We try to do the right thing, not only when it comes to our employees and customers, but for society and the environment,” explains Daniel Baker, corporate responsibility director, Aldi Australia.

“We conduct business practices of the highest ethical standard with integrity and, when it comes to sustainability, we recognise the importance of acting now.

“To help achieve our goal to reduce plastics and packaging by 25 per cent by 2025, we have been working with our business partners to remove single-use plastics, reduce the volume of packaging and source recycled materials. We are pleased to report that we are on track to achieving our goal.

“As a founding signatory of the Pact, we remain focused on reducing our own environmental footprint, but also hope to encourage the broader industry to make changes to significantly reduce plastics across the whole supply chain.”

Greg Davis, chief executive Commercial and Express, Coles, said the partnership will help fulfil Coles’ recently launched Together to Zero sustainability strategy, committing to deliver net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2025 and long-term aspiration towards net zero waste and zero hunger.

As part of its refreshed sustainability strategy, Coles recently committed to remove all single-use plastic tableware from its stores by 1 July 2021. Additionally, Coles announced a joint feasibility study into an Australian-first advanced recycling facility.

“As one of Australia’s largest retailers, Coles understands the importance of working collaboratively to find a more sustainable future for plastic packaging,” Davis says.

“We’ve just launched our new Together to Zero sustainability strategy and have an ambition to be Australia’s most sustainable supermarket, working with out suppliers, customers and other stakeholders towards zero waste.

“As a founding member of the ANZPAC Plastics Pact, we now have an opportunity to build and shape meaningful change on plastic packaging and move towards a circular plastic economy as a global community.”

Woolworths has already been moving towards a more circular economy with its products and has a target already in place to improve the recyclability of its Own Brand packaging.

The supermarket giant is working towards decreasing non-recyclable packaging and increase recycled content. Woolworths will also introduce clear, user-friendly recycling instructions onto the products.

Woolworths also has several organic product suppliers who have recently adopted recycled packaging and have completed the total elimination of polystyrene trays from its produce organics supply network converting to compostable trays or recyclable plastic.

“We’re working towards a better tomorrow for our customers, communities and the planet, and reducing plastic waste is one of the important ways we can make a meaningful difference,” adds Adrian Cullen, head of sustainability for Woolworths.

“In recent years we have already removed thousands of tonnes of plastic from our packaging and stores, but we know there’s more to do, and we can’t do it alone.

“The Plastics Pact is a first of its kind opportunity for the entire industry and every level of the supply chain to rally around this challenge and collaborate on solutions that reduce plastic waste for the benefit of the environment and generations to come.”

The ANZPAC Plastics Pact is a collaborative solution that brings together key players behind a shared vision of a circular economy for plastic, where plastic never becomes waste or pollution.

There Plastics Pact network is currently active in the UK, the US, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Chile, South Africa, Canada and Poland.

The European Plastics Pact was the first regional initiative to join the network in March 2020, and ANZPAC follows suit as the second regional Pact in the network.

For more information on the ANZPAC Plastics Pact, or to find a list of the entire members list, check out PKN’s report here.

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