Moving to a circular economy



Towards zero food waste going to landfill.

Reducing food waste in Australia


This ambitious target involves the year-on-year reduction in tonnes of food waste going to landfill. We’ll do this by reducing stock loss, improving store waste management, and improving the effectiveness of our farmers' program and food rescue program.

We are constantly implementing new strategies to reduce food waste. Although we’ve made impressive progress and we lead the domestic market, each year sees us send around 52,000 tonnes of food waste to landfill at a cost of $13 million.

Currently, 91% of stores have a food waste diversion program that successfully diverts 60,500 tonnes of food each year. However, it was recently highlighted that 49% of the volume in a general waste bin consists of savable food. To fix this, we are not only focusing on our supermarkets, but also our end‑to‑end supply chains, where there is still $8 billion of food waste each year.

Some strategies we have implemented so far include:

  • Improving back-of-house source separation with the rollout of colour coded bins.
  • Extending our Odd Bunch range, which currently sells around 50,000 tonnes each year.
  • Providing the equivalent of eight million meals to food rescue programs every year.
  • Farmers are collecting produce and bakery goods from over 500 stores to be used as feed for animals.
  • Introducing the Jamie Oliver ‘Leftovers to Makeover’ Christmas campaign.
  • Improving reporting capability so we can see where we need to change for the better.
  • Continuing to strengthen our relationships with food rescue organisations.

By partnering with OzHarvest, Foodbank, and other food rescue organisations, we are helping reduce food waste in Australia. The launch of The Odd Bunch saw local Aussie farmers cut their waste down too, as their once unused products are now being offered as cheaper alternatives at our stores across the country. As a result, we are seeing many Aussie families enjoying quality, healthy, and affordable food that was once wasted.

Woolworths’ ambassador, Jamie Oliver, raised awareness of the disturbing amount of food wasted in Australia at a media event at our Food Innovation Centre. He captured public attention and put the spotlight on the changes we are making about food waste.


reducing food waste in australia

1  The ratio of rescued food to number of meals is based on a 500g meal size, as agreed at the SVA Food Forum.

Oz Harvest



“Working hand in hand with Woolworths over the last 18 months has generated spectacular results. Food rescue operations have grown a staggering 320% in that time, saving over 100 tonnes of good food from landfill every month. The OzHarvest message has reached so many people through Woolworths’ ‘Good Acts’ campaigns including the ‘Christmas Table for Good’, which helped deliver over 1.4 million meals and continued with the successful OzSizzle pilot. Woolworths is united with us in the fight against food waste, through their support with the OzHarvest initiated Zero Food Waste Form, and showcasing their Odd Bunch range at our Think.Eat.Save events across the country.”

Ronni Kahn, OzHarvest Founder & CEO



Countdown’s Food Rescue program is the largest of its kind in the country. All our stores take part and help to see surplus food donated to foodbanks and food rescues each year, as well as to farmers for food scraps for their animals. To highlight the need for change, we bring together all our partners for an annual Food Rescue Partners Summit in Wellington and support their continued growth through our Food Rescue Partners Contestable Fund of $100,000 p.a. Along with the re-launch of our internal policies, we also re-branded and launched our new purple donation bins in conjunction with our annual Winter Food Rescue Appeal with The Salvation Army, which saw a big increase in customer donations, both in‑store and online.

Our target to ‘Improve the recyclability of our own brand packaging and contribute to the circular economy’ will see us decrease non-recyclable packaging, and increase recycled content. We will phase out expanded polystyrene by 2020. We will also introduce clear, user-friendly recycling instructions.

Packaging plays a key role in the retail supply chain. It protects the significant investment that we and our suppliers have made in growing, processing and transporting the products to our shelves and makes sure they are delivered safely to customers’ homes. It is also critical in providing convenience and communicating to customers.



Improve the recyclability of our own brand packaging and contribute to the circular economy.

The end of the plastic bag

Woolworths Group

To play our part in reducing plastic bag use, we will remove single-use plastic bags across Woolworths Group nationwide – including Woolworths Supermarkets and Metro stores, BIG W, BWS and Online. Dan Murphy’s and Cellarmasters are already single-use plastic bag free.

The phased approach will begin shortly, with the aim to have it in place across the entire Woolworths Group in Australia by the end of FY18. This will see us cut the number of single-use plastic bags we distribute by 3.2 billion each year.

We will continue to provide our customers with a range of alternative shopping bag options across stores, and will offer thicker, reusable versions at different prices to suit our customers.



When we design the packaging for Woolworths own brand products, we try to use our packaging as efficiently as possible and assess each new product against a list of sustainability criteria. The own brand Sustainable Packaging Guidelines have been updated in 2017 as part of the continued focus to improve their sustainability – the improved guidelines will be implemented in early FY18.

In December 2016 we changed the packaging format and reduced the amount of plastic packaging for potato and pasta salads by 120 tonnes.


Woolworths Group

Clear on-pack communication that informs customers how to dispose of each packaging component after use is an important part of increasing recycling rates in Australia. We have been working on a new recycle logo system which will be rolled out in FY18 to make our recycle instructions simple and easy to understand.

improved recycle logo


Endeavour Drinks

Pinnacle Drinks (the own and exclusive brands arm of Endeavour Drinks) partners with Australia’s biggest packaging suppliers who are leaders in sustainability within their sectors, with preference towards recycled materials used in packaging. Pinnacle Drinks’ main wine production site in Angaston, South Australia has a zero waste to landfill policy with five waste recycling streams for packaging waste. Any landfill waste is used as energy for the site.



Meat departments across Countdown have moved away from non‑recyclable expanded polystyrene packaging into recyclable RPET trays. The trays themselves are made using postconsumer 50–95% recycled PET (typically 95% depending on availability).

premium lamb



We currently partner with Redcycle in 96 of our supermarkets, where we collect soft plastics like bread bags, which are then recycled into products including outdoor furniture. We are expanding this program to over 500 stores. We also offer a place to recycle single use plastic bags in all our stores.

(T/Square Metres) 1

Waste Intensity


recycle bin




1  Waste intensity is from Australian operations.
2  Materials diverted from landfill data from Australian Supermarkets, New Zealand Supermarkets and BIG W.
3  Waste to landfill data from Australian operations.