Packaging and Waste

We need to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill across our value chain, and drive a market for recycled materials by using them in our operations, packaging, and products.


With a rising population, the amount of waste produced is also expected to increase, especially in urban centres. With this in mind, we have established an approach to address our impacts by reducing packaging and appropriate waste management across our value chain.

In 2018, we committed to zero packaging waste to landfill and that all our packaging would be reusable or recyclable. As part of our Vision 2025+ strategy, we set goals for our private-label products to be reused, repaired, resold or recycled by 2025 and will contain at least one renewed, reused or recycled material input by 2030. We also committed to halving food loss and waste in our operations and across our top 30 suppliers by 2030. These commitments were our way of cementing work that had already started on waste reduction at the beginning of our sustainability journey.

Our customers have always held us accountable for excessive and non-recyclable packaging. Packaging waste is directly linked to its recyclability – but even when it is recyclable, we mainly operate in areas with poor recycling infrastructure. Single-use plastic packaging remains the worst offender; less than 10% is currently recycled globally. It also continues to be one of the biggest customer concerns.

Our strategy considers our customers’ concerns, as they are the end-users of our products. Therefore, engaging them on how we should manage waste from our products, becomes one of the biggest focuses of our waste management strategy. Not only do we want to design for reuse and recyclability, but we also aim to play a part, by raising awareness of how excessive waste, whether directly or indirectly, should be managed across our value chain.

Our packaging strategy consists of the following pillars:

  • Reduce: Reduce our use of non-renewable resources, including plastic packaging, particularly virgin and non-recyclable plastic
  • Reuse or repurpose: Investigate, and where commercially viable, scale, reusable or refillable systems to eliminate the need for disposable packaging
  • Innovation: Pioneer alternative designs and materials that work towards establishing a circular economy for the materials used
  • Recycle: Support infrastructure that helps to reduce waste to landfill
  • Behaviour change: Influence behaviour change of customers, employees and industry


Embedding sustainable principles in how we approach packaging and product design plays a significant role in minimising the environmental impact of our products. Working closely with key stakeholders in our value chain (including product technologists, operations managers, and suppliers), we strive to improve our choice of materials and substrate types used on our products through:

  • Identifying where the troublesome packaging is and removing it from our product offering. Troublesome packaging refers to packaging with characteristics not aligned with our sustainable packaging vision. Woolworths is focusing on shifting from multi-polymer and multi-layer to fully recyclable packaging for food
  • Driving efficiencies by reviewing innovation opportunities for alternative sustainable packaging and product material options
  • Reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill from our operations
  • Making it easier for customers to recycle by communicating recycling options on product packs and providing recycling facilities in areas where we operate
  • Documenting and tracking progress and performance against our commitments

We also work closely with our suppliers to ensure these filter through our entire value chain. Where solutions are complex and hard to implement, we focus on industry collaboration with key stakeholders that share our vision. This has helped us to build critical mass within the industry, and to bring overall systemic change.

In addition, we continue to position the Company as a responsible retailer through constant engagement with our customers. Taking our customers on this journey is key to meeting our commitments, and we continue to communicate using various platforms to shift customer perception regarding how we manage waste and packaging.

We want to find ways to ensure we create products that can be reused or repurposed and avoid sending them to landfills. We have also started exploring ways to design products with circularity in mind.




More information on the focus area and our performance thereon can be found in our annual Good Business Journey Report


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