Woolworths slashes plastic packaging output

Woolworths has removed approximately 9,000 tonnes of plastic packaging from circulation over the past four years as it works towards transitioning its entire Own Brand range to recyclable, compostable or reusable packaging by 2023.
The packaging has been changed on more than 550 products, which has seen almost 800 tonnes of plastic removed from produce, around 600 tonnes removed from bakery products and approximately 400 tonnes yearly removed from milk bottles since 2018.

Woolworths’ sustainable packaging team are progressively working across the supermarket’s entire Own Brand range and fresh produce to either remove plastic packaging altogether, reduce the volume of plastic used, increase the use of recycled
materials or make packaging 100 per cent recyclable.

Some of the packaging changes customers can already see include replacing plastic trays with pulp trays for a number of tomato varieties, replacing plastic tags on produce with paper, and paper meat trays for Woolworths’ Specially Selected and Grass Fed steaks.

Customers can expect to see more sustainable packaging changes as the supermarket accelerates work to meet a range of commitments for its Own Brand packaging over the coming years, including:

  • 2023: 100 per cent of Own Brand packaging widely recyclable, reusable or compostable;
  • 2024: Halve the use of new (virgin) plastic packaging (by weight against a 2018 baseline); and
  • 2025: Use an average of 60 per cent recycled material in packaging.

In addition, Woolworths has also removed a number of single use plastics by:

  • replacing plastic cotton tip stems with paper and sugarcane stems across the range, which is expected to save almost 500 million pieces of plastic yearly;
  • becoming the first supermarket to stop selling plastic straws, removing over 280 million straws since 2018; and
  • removing single use plastic shopping bags nationwide, a reduction of 9 billion bags in circulation since 2018.

In October this year Woolworths will also remove all single-use plastic tableware like cutlery, cups, plates and bowls from sale nationwide, which is expected to result in 1,700 tonnes less plastic yearly.