Coles Sustainable Packaging

Sustainability has grown to be a top priority for many businesses. Coles has an ambition to become Australia’s most sustainable supermarket and is constantly exploring ways to reduce its environmental impact through projects and partnerships.

The Opportunity

Coles understands the growing customer demand for sustainable packaging. As an active member of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), it has committed to Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets.
Coles is continuing to work to have all Coles Own Brand product packaging compostable, reusable or recyclable by 2025 either through kerbside collection or in-store through the REDcycle soft plastics collection program operating in all Coles supermarkets. Progress towards this commitment is shared with stakeholders in Coles’ sustainability report.

To determine the recyclability of packaging in Australia, Coles utilises the Packaging Recyclability Evaluation Portal (PREP tool). The PREP Tool requires specific and detailed packaging information that was not previously easily accessible.

Our Solution

MSAC Solutions was engaged to develop a plan enabling Coles to collect accurate data and allow reporting on packaging recyclability. The engagement leveraged MSAC’s experience across similar retail projects involving supply chain engagement, the PREP tool and the Oracle Retail Brand Compliance system.

The approach needed to be flexible enough to consider all the specific requirements of each business category whilst ensuring that all packaging data was accurately captured, up to date and fully auditable.

A combination of approaches was used. A technical team engaged directly with the supply chain to gather and verify the packaging information before processing it through the PREP tool. Combined with a packaging data capture configuration improvement in the Oracle Retail Brand Compliance system, this enabled Coles to access full reporting and auditing capabilities.

The outcome

This large-scale project, involving over 5,000 products, 12,000 elements of packaging and a dozen MSAC team members, was fully completed within five months. All the data collected from suppliers was checked for compliance and all corresponding packaging recycling reports were created.

Over the course of the project, MSAC’s collaboration with Coles and APCO uncovered several opportunities to improve the capture of packaging data in Australia, and led to modifications of the PREP recyclability tool, increased suppliers’ awareness of impacts to the recyclability of different packaging components, and clarification of industry guidelines.

Coles is now in possession of a complete and compliant primary packaging data set that has enabled it to bring the products specifications up to date. This accurate packaging and recycling information is now being used to focus Coles’ attention on key areas of packaging to further progress against Australia’s 2025 National Packaging targets.

In November 2021, Coles’ ongoing commitment to work towards Together to Zero waste was recognised and celebrated. Coles Group was named the winner of two awards at the Annual APCO awards.

Coles received the Large Retailer award, which celebrates the top performing members in each industry sector, based on its core scores in the most recent round of APCO’s Annual Reporting Process and its performance against the Packaging Sustainability Framework criteria. Coles was recognised for its R3 Packaging Strategy (‘Redesign, Recycle and Reimagine’) which is aligned with the National Packaging 2025 Targets. Coles were also recognised for its leadership across REDcycle, container deposit schemes and its Simply Cups program at its Store Support Centre.

The second award was for Packaging Sustainability Education (Industry), highlighting Coles’ achievements for winning together with its suppliers on supplier education and enablement program where Coles worked with MSAC Solutions and supply partners to gather detailed packaging information across the Coles Own Brand supplier base.

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