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A foundational year: Woolworths’ sustainable efforts ramp up in 2021

Woolworths has taken further steps toward creating a more ecologically sustainable business, signaling a significant drop in emissions and the diversion of 80 per cent of its waste from landfills in the last year.

According to the business’ annual sustainability report, Woolworths Group expanded its solar network to 100,000 panels across 200 sites during FY21, and diverted 360,000 tonnes of waste diverted and 22 million surplus meals donated to food relief partners.

“This year, the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has continued to put pressure on our teams and supply chain,” CEO Brad Banducci said.

“In these circumstances of extreme and prolonged uncertainty, a sense of purpose is more important than ever. Whilst we continue to deal with the very real challenges of the present, we are also looking to the future.”

In the last year, the group released its Sustainability Plan which set out a commitment to be powered entirely by renewable energy by 2025, appointed its first chief sustainability officer, Alex Holt, and signed onto its first renewable energy deal.

The business’ efforts cut its Scope 1 and 2 emissions, now down 27 per cent on 2015 figures, and further cut plastic products from its product range.

According to Holt, the past year has been foundational for Woolworths’ future efforts in the sustainability space.

“We’re setting up our teams to ensure sustainability is core to what we do – from stores to distribution centres, support offices and supply chains,” Holt said.

Brad Banducci said the business’ rapid changes are reflective of the acceleration of how the retail industry is responding to the threat of climate change.

“We believe that aspirational goals drive innovative solutions, and we intend to take an agile approach to our sustainability plan, reviewing, and where necessary revising, our goals and commitments on an annual basis in order to continue raising our ambitions,” Banducci said.

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