Waste and circular economy
Where possible, our businesses strive to divert waste from landfill, recognising that this has significant reputational and financial costs for their businesses. Our retail businesses are signatories to the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and report in line with its targets annually. Waste is a key area of focus for all our divisions.
This year, we decreased our waste to landfill by almost five per cent to approximately 55,500 tonnes and increased waste recycled by 12 per cent to approximately 120,500 tonnes.
Bunnings diverted 53 per cent, Kmart Group diverted 81 per cent and Officeworks diverted 86 per cent of their operational waste from landfill. The results have been achieved through initiatives such as changing the terms of current waste and recycling contracts, increasing diversion rates, monitoring waste and recycling performance, increasing reusable packaging and reducing non-recyclable materials in supply chain. This has resulted in an overall improved recycling performance for the Wesfarmers Group, with significant cost savings expected in the future.
We recognise that in a world with finite natural resources, the traditional ‘linear’ business model that relies on a take-make-waste extractive industrial approach is not sustainable in the long term. Over the last 18 months, our businesses have worked to develop a circular economy strategy. In some divisions this has involved the development and use of advanced life-cycle assessment models to evaluate and prioritise the environmental impacts of products over their life-cycle, along with customer insights and detailed materials studies using leading global specialists. At Kmart and Target, these activities have confirmed plastic, polyester, cotton, wood, chemical use, water impacts, packaging, greenhouse gas and waste diversion as priorities.
During the year, Bunnings, Kmart Group and Officeworks worked with social enterprises, businesses and not-for profit organisations to provide recycling programs for products including batteries, paint and electrical items such as power tools and e-waste.
In response to the need to improve waste diversion and manage recycling and waste system volatility with growing challenges in Asian markets for Australian and New Zealand waste, Kmart Group has continued to implement the Better Together Waste Diversion program. This year’s focus included data collection/analytics and the execution of a national waste and recycling tender, which provides the foundation for a strategic focus on waste diversion, efficient systems, accurate data collection, equipment, source separation signage and team member training in stores and distribution centres.
Kmart Group's membership of TechCollect has funded the collection and recycling of 303,893 kilograms of complying e-waste items, including televisions, computer and peripheral devices. TechCollect was set up by the Australia and New Zealand Recycling Platform as the official government-approved e-waste recycling program.
During the 2020 financial year, Officeworks continued to make progress with total waste generation down 7 per cent and waste sent to landfill down 26 per cent on the prior financial year. The inclusion of non-financial KPIs into store team’s balanced scorecards, such as store recycling rates, contributed to greater accountability that resulted in 86 per cent of all waste recycled during the 2020 financial year.
Reducing waste sent to landfill was achieved by taking a strategic approach to waste management that is informed through waste analysis and monitored by regular performance reporting. Initiatives to address problematic waste streams during the year included implementing a polystyrene recycling service, launching a trial to repair and repurpose faulty or damaged furniture and working with suppliers to move to reusable transit pallets instead of single-use pallets.
While it is the individual actions of all team members that contribute to effective waste management, Officeworks acknowledges behaviour change is the most challenging aspect. To address this, Officeworks continued its focus to make recycling easy by implementing educational signage, optimising recycling service schedules and sending team members from 10 stores to a dedicated waste and recycling workshop.
During the financial year, a total of 1,061 tonnes of e-waste, including computers, printers, ink and toner cartridges, mobile phones and batteries were collected for recycling. Despite some disruptions in providing this service to customers due to COVID-19, this represented an increase of 22 per cent on the prior year. The increase in volume was in part due to the installation of new recycling collection infrastructure in 54 stores, which enables a greater range of products to be collected for recycling at stores and addresses previous issues such as potential theft.
During the year, Bunnings worked with social enterprises, businesses and not-for-profit organisations to provide recycling programs for products including batteries, paint and electrical items such as power tools. Collectively, these initiatives resulted in customers bringing back over 8,800 kilograms of batteries for recycling through 13 metropolitan Melbourne stores and customers dropping off over 1.28 million kilograms of e-waste in South Australia through Minda’s Unplug N’ Drop program. Bunnings’ support for Minda continued to create more than 50 jobs for Minda employees with a disability. Bunnings collected over 10,000 kilograms of waste paint and packaging through two Paintback events, with the remaining planned events unfortunately postponed due to COVID-19.
GRI 103-1, GRI 103-2, GRI 103-3, GRI 306-2, GRI 306-3, GRI 306-4, GRI 306-5