The other day I attended the Atlantic Seaboard Green Drinks. They happen every month but I was particularly keen to attend this one because the presenter was the sustainability manager at Woolworths, Justin Smith.
Woolworths always gets a hard time about their packaging, but I know that they are actually doing some really good work in the sustainability direction. I had heard a little about this at a previous event I attended, so was eager to hear more.
As I listened to the presentation, the questions asked and the answers given, I realised something. For each issue that people raised, Woolworths had already done research and put in place a strategy to address it. Many of the strategies involve fairly long time frames with targets to meet along the way. This is why we often don’t see the changes because they are subtle.
Most people go on about the packaging at Woolworths and Woolworths is aware of this issue. They have measured the packaging volume to benchmark it and have a strategy in place. But what we don’t realise is that there is a trade off. For instance, if they remove the packaging from avocado pears, the amount of waste increases 200%. So are we happy with that much waste? Which is worse?
Also, the big packaging companies are limited in what they can produce and how they can produce it so Woolworths can’t make them do things differently.
There are actually much bigger issues than packaging, water is one of them. They have initiatives in place to conserve and reuse water. They have incentive programs for staff so they are motivated to be conscious of enviromental issues.
Woolworths also understands that it has some influence over its suppliers so it encourages or enforces policies around organic farming and fair remuneration. This has a trickle down effect with sub suppliers having to tow the line as well. Their farming for the future initiative is excellent and revolves around farmers farming in sustainable ways.
Woolworths is definitely taking their responsibilities seriously and they are very happy to hear from the public. You can read more about their environmental initiatives here and feel free to email them on firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn more about Green Drinks here.