Circular economy initiatives
Some of the key initiatives undertaken during the 2023 financial year are detailed below.
As of 30 June 2023, Bunnings diverted 57.1 per cent of its operational waste, demonstrating a 2.2 percentage point improvement compared to the previous year due to enhanced segregation, recycling and reporting of waste.
During the 2023 financial year, Bunnings expanded its waste management program by launching an internal uniform recycling program for all team members to promote diversion of textiles away from landfill.
Bunnings worked to reduce excess product packaging, improve packaging design for recovery and reduce the use of packaging materials that are difficult for customers to recycle. As a member of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), Bunnings is committed to working towards 100 per cent sustainable packaging. A training program was launched during the year to introduce the Bunnings sustainable packaging guidelines to internal teams and selected suppliers. The guidelines help to embed APCO’s sustainable packaging principles in products sold in Bunnings.
Bunnings continued to include the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) on product packaging to help customers dispose of packaging correctly. The ARL was applied to more than 1,000 additional products in the Bunnings range during the year.
Bunnings recognises customer interest in solutions to responsibly manage items that are complex to recycle at their end-of-life. By partnering with not-for-profit organisations and businesses, Bunnings continued to offer in-store drop off services to recycle household and power tool batteries and products with a power cord in selected stores across the network.
In April 2023, Bunnings reached a milestone of 200 tonnes of household and power tool batteries collected for recycling across Australia and New Zealand. As of 30 June 2023, 240 tonnes of batteries have been collected for recycling through the program since it commenced in late 2021. In South Australia, more than 1,200 tonnes of e-waste were collected for recycling in partnership with Minda through the Unplug N’ Drop program, which provides ongoing work opportunities for people with a disability.
Following a successful trial in New Zealand, Bunnings introduced a plastic plant pot stewardship program across selected stores in Australia and New Zealand. The program supports the improvement of plastic packaging recycling by inviting customers to return used plant packaging made from polypropylene plastic that is difficult for many local recycling facilities to process. The program offers a circular solution by supporting customers to take them home for reuse without charge, or by working with program partners to recycle the material into items such as new plastic pots.
In the year ahead, Bunnings’ will focus on collaboration with suppliers to boost use of sustainable packaging throughout its supply chain and to improve waste management and resource recovery across the Australian and New Zealand network.
In December 2022, Kmart ran a circular design training pilot with its leadership team, led by circular design specialist Dr Clara Vuletich. The Kmart leadership team was asked to reimagine Kmart products through a circular lens and consider Kmart in terms of the circular design. Kmart plans to create a circular design strategy.
Officeworks has partnered with Circonomy, formerly the World’s Biggest Garage Sale, since 2019. Circonomy is Australia’s first recovery, repair and resale service and a key partner in supporting Officeworks to achieve its People and Planet Positive commitment of contributing to a more circular economy and repairing, repurposing and recycling 17,000 tonnes of unwanted products by 2025. A key objective of the partnership is to create a more sophisticated approach to handling imperfect products and eliminate some of the costly and inefficient processes that come with managing unsellable or damaged furniture, while reducing waste to landfill.
From December 2022 to February 2023, Officeworks and Circonomy trialled 10-week furniture repair program. Over the course of the trial, Officeworks successfully diverted 5.5 tonnes and 271 furniture items from landfill. Of the stores that took part in the trial, Officeworks saw a reduction in time and labour costs used to deal with damaged items. In total, 191 pieces were repaired onsite and 80 pieces were diverted to Circonomy for resale.
By prioritising repair and reuse over recycling, Officeworks has been able to keep existing products within circularity and in turn, has a valuable solution to extending the life of goods, reducing the impact associated with discarding unrecyclable items and components to landfill, while preserving and reducing the reliance on limited natural resources.
To continue to provide its customers with more sustainable choices, Officeworks has more than 2,200 products in its People and Planet Positive range. These products have sustainable attributes, such as recycled content, wooden materials and certified cotton, and include items that are refillable, recyclable or reusable. For more information, visit https://www.officeworks.com.au/campaigns/people-and-planet-positive-product-range#/
Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers
WesCEF improved data collection (to track the type and quantity of inputs used in production processes and identify if more sustainable alternatives are available) and its governance structure to deliver a mature circular economy strategic approach.
Disposal of unwanted waste generated from WesCEF’s manufacturing plants is managed via circular economy principles, including reducing the use of non-renewable inputs, lowering carbon emissions and decreasing waste production. A total of 87.4 per cent of waste was diverted from landfill in the 2023 financial year, compared to 85.9 per cent in the previous year.
WesCEF has explored recycling and reuse opportunities, including finding new markets for WesCEF’s waste. For example, WesCEF’s nutrient-rich wastewater at its CSBP Kwinana site in Western Australia is used by an external compost-producing facility. In the 2023 financial year, progress was made towards repurposing wastewater from the CSBP Geraldton site in Western Australia by incorporating the wastewater into a new low-strength liquid fertiliser being trialled with a regional grower. In addition, used bulk containers normally used for chemical storage are returned to the supplier for reuse or recycling.
Industrial and Safety
The Industrial and Safety division strives to reduce waste to landfill where possible by making better use of available resources and improving recycling capabilities. The division is committed to national packaging targets or industry equivalents and has started evaluating end-of-life solutions for selected products.
In the 2022 financial year, Blackwoods committed to zero waste to landfill by 2032 and over the past two years has consistently diverted approximately 30 per cent of operational waste from landfill. During the 2023 financial year, a waste audit was conducted at the division’s Sydney distribution centre, resulting in improvement initiatives to be launched in the 2024 financial year.
Blackwoods continues its partnership with ACT Logistics for recycling and repurposing e-waste. The Blackwoods Own-Brand Industrial Workwear range will transition throughout 2023 to recyclable polybags, made from 100 per cent recycled content with in-built moisture control properties.
NZ Safety Blackwoods is committed to reducing its waste to landfill, improving recycling capabilities and ensuring packaging introduced into the supply chain is recyclable. It reviewed its Trade Centre waste streams and introduced soft plastic recycling via its waste management provider at 25 out of 32 sites, with ongoing work to implement a solution in the remaining sites. A waste improvement blueprint is under development for all sites to review their waste pickups to improve waste stream management and reduce costs associated with waste. A pilot initiative is underway at distribution centre where all personal waste is taken home, with the aim of reducing waste to landfill.
Coregas phased out of single-use cylinders and is appropriately disposing and recycling of cylinders at end-of-life, through third-party providers.
Workwear Group has developed year-on-year reduction targets to decrease overall waste and waste to landfill. To achieve these targets, Workwear Group has developed a packaging standard for all brands, which will ensure no plastic clips or kimbles, one swing ticket and recyclable plastic garment bag, recycled content and mandatory recycling instructions for packaging. Workwear Group’s packaging standard was finalised in May 2023 and the business commenced implementation in June 2023.
Workwear Group’s actions also target the minimisation of single-use plastics, increasing recycled content and improving recoverability. Other activities to support waste reduction include the introduction of garment recycling bins at all sites, education to improve segregation of waste, the introduction of a coloured soft plastics recycling program in Victoria and ongoing engagement with various textile recyclers.
To aid in the transition towards a circular economy, a reduction in the amount of waste generated and sent to landfill through Wesfarmers Health operations is vital. The significant growth in plastics consumption plays a large part in waste disposal and poses a threat to the environment and biodiversity. Therefore, a focus on packaging and plastics will support waste reduction and diversion, with increased recycled and recyclable material in its supply chain.
In the 2023 financial year, Wesfarmers Health took steps to understand the volume and nature of its waste footprint generated across its distribution centres, corporate support offices and company-owned retail store network. This upcoming financial year will also signify an important milestone where Wesfarmers Health will report on operational waste across its company-owned network for the first time.
During the year, initiatives were undertaken by the division to reduce waste within its supply chain, including pallet recycling and exploration of greater waste segregation practices at the Melbourne distribution centre. A reduction in plastic straps on totes (moving from double strapping to single strapping) was also implemented across the distribution centre network to reduce plastic within the supply chain as well as the waste generated.
The Wesfarmers Health distribution and fulfilment centres are the biggest contributors towards the business’s waste footprint and consequently the emphasis has been on better waste management practices at these facilities. Some initiatives include recycling of distribution pallets, the introduction of cardboard totes and use of recyclable labels on cartons.
Wesfarmers Health operational waste (disposed to landfill and recovered) was 2.3 kilotonnes with a notional recycling rate of 73.0 per cent.
Take back program
Priceline continues to participate in a take back program that was initially launched by Maybelline in partnership with Terracycle in 2021. The program encourages customers to return their empty makeup containers, regardless of brand, to be deposited in dedicated collection units within Priceline stores. In return, customers are rewarded with Sister Club points (for members).
The collected makeup packaging is sent to Terracycle where it is sorted, processed and converted into usable raw material that can be repurposed and diverted from landfill.
Packaging and plastics
As part of the Australian federal and state government targets, packaging made, used and sold within Australia is required to adhere to the set packaging targets, imposed by the National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) and facilitated by APCO. APCO has outlined four National Packaging Targets to be achieved by 2025, which include:
- 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging
- 70 per cent plastic packaging being recycled or composted
- 50 per cent of average recycled content included in packaging (revised from 30 per cent in 2020)
- the phase out of problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging.
A review across all private-label brands has been initiated that considers the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
To align with these targets, Wesfarmers Health will aim to reduce the amount of packaging materials within its supply chain by reviewing current packaging designs, considering options that have lesser packaging material and higher recycled content, and are recyclable and compostable post-consumption.
Clear Skincare has begun the process of reviewing packaging of its products and will finalise new packaging designs in adherence with the APCO Sustainable Packaging Guidelines that move towards more reusable, recyclable and compostable packaging in the 2024 financial year.
Wesfarmers Health’s focus in the coming financial year will be reducing operational waste, aided by sustainable packaging, and moving towards a more circular economy. A key priority in the coming year will be to improve the management and reporting practices for waste streams to quantify the impact of initiatives more accurately. In the future, Wesfarmers Health will also consider the application of a packaging policy that supports the 2025 National Packaging Targets.
From January to June 2023, Catch partnered with Circonomy in a pilot initiative to collect, transfer, refurbish, repair and repurpose still-useful products that may have been damaged in the supply chain or returned and unfit for immediate sale. The pilot aims to reduce waste sent to landfill and energy usage associated with extra storage requirements and has resulted in Catch recovering some of the cost of goods. By the end of the six-month pilot, the initiative helped to keep over 18,262 customer returned items in circulation.
GRI 3-3, GRI 306-1, GRI 306-2, GRI 306-3, GRI 306-4, GRI 306-5
GRI 103-1, GRI 103-2, GRI 103-3, GRI 306-1, GRI 306-2, GRI 306-3, GRI 306-4, GRI 306-5