Woolies to embrace recycled plastics for its packaging

Thursday, 28 July, 2022

Woolies to embrace recycled plastics for its packaging

Woolworths and Pact Group are teaming up and millions of Australians will soon be using products packaged with recycled plastics through the partnership.

The supermarket giant has committed to reducing its plastic use but in cases where this is impossible for reasons of food safety, it will be using recycled plastics. Under the partnership, around 18,000 tonnes of virgin plastic is expected to be replaced with recycled alternatives each year, with a resulting reduction in 25,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and 1.25 billion litres of water used (that is, roughly 500 Olympic swimming pools). Pact will be providing the recycled plastic content.

“We know that consumers and businesses are increasingly demanding recycled and recyclable plastic packaging and Pact is working with committed partners like Woolworths Group to drive that change,” said Pact Group CEO and Managing Director Sanjay Dayal. “Plastic packaging that is designed effectively, that is recyclable and recycled properly in Australia can be used again and again, creating a truly local circular economy for plastics.”

Recycled plastics sourced from household recycling and container deposit schemes will be used in milk bottles, meat trays and beverage bottles across Woolworths’ product range. Pact operates a handful of recycling facilities across Australia to deal with this sort of waste, having this year opened a PET recycling plant in Albury–Wodonga, with another four expected to open by 2025.

Woolworths Group Managing Director of Format & Network Development Rob McCartney said: “As Australia’s largest retailer we have a responsibility to make the products our customers put in their shopping baskets better for the environment.

“We’re working hard to remove plastic from packaging like our bakery trays, however it can be necessary to protect quality and food safety in some products — which is why replacing it with recycled plastic is the next best thing.

“Across the scale of our range, the real challenge is sourcing quality recycled material in the volumes we need and ensuring it’s coming from within Australia to support the development of our local circular economy and avoid shipping emissions.

“We’re working with Pact on a partnership that would propel us closer towards our sustainable packaging goal than we’ve ever been before, while also helping to grow the Australian recycling industry to meet demand in the years to come.”

NSW Minister for Environment James Griffin said: “This exciting initiative will support the NSW Government’s ambitious goal to triple the plastics recycling rate by 2030 and reduce plastics from entering our environment as litter or going to landfill.

“It is great to see businesses working in partnership with their customers, to move to more sustainable packaging and help develop a circular economy.”

Woolworths has committed to halving its use of virgin plastic by 2024, has pledged to remove its reuseable plastic bags, and co-founded Samsara to commercialise its plastic-digesting enzyme technology.

Image caption: Pact Group CEO and MD Sanjay Dayal, NSW Environment Minister James Griffin and Woolworths Group executive Rob McCartney holding products that could see packaging sustainability boosted under Pact partnership.

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