Coles introduces BYO containers trial to encourage recycling

Coles is trialling a new 'bring your own' packaging system, to encourage recycling.

Coles is trialling a new 'bring your own' packaging system, to encourage recycling. Photo: Getty

In the years since the hotly debated plastic bag ban, Australians have gotten used to bringing our shopping baskets and bags to the supermarket, so what about BYO refillable containers?

Coles is taking a step towards sustainability, trialling a new ‘bring your own’ container system at an inner-city Melbourne store.

The trial is an effort to “help reduce plastic packaging” and will start at Fitzroy’s Coles Local next week, a Coles spokesperson told The New Daily. 

As an alternative to using provided plastic bags, customers will be able to bring their containers for select dry ‘scoop and weigh’ products.

“We have also partnered with Unilever on a refill station for laundry soaps at our Melbourne Moonee Ponds store, and with an ecostore at Chatswood in Sydney, to offer a range of refillable conditioners, body washes and laundry liquids,” the Coles spokesperson said.

The move comes as the world grapples with an enormous plastic waste problem.

In 2019, a Canadian study revealed that humans could be ingesting 74,000 bits of plastics annually.

Supermarkets in Australia and around the world are under pressure to rid their shelves of plastic packaging.

Last month, major supermarkets including Coles, Woolworths and Aldi and multinational companies including Coca-Cola, Nestle and Arnott’s Biscuits signed a pact that would see the elimination of plastic waste from supply chains in Australia by 2025.

The agreement followed a landmark review that found just 20 companies were responsible for producing more than half of the single-use plastics in the world.

The role of recycling

Worldwide, just 9 per cent of plastics are recycled, a figure that rises to 18 per cent in Australia.

According to a new report, about three in four Australians think recycling is the most positive thing they can do for the environment.

Released on Wednesday, the Australasian Recycling Label Consumer Insights Report 2021 by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and Planet Ark found that most Australians want more information about what can and can’t be recycled.

Recycling instructions on packaging are the first place many people turn to, the report said.

“We’re really encouraged to see how passionate Australians are about recycling and developing positive recycling behaviours,” Planet Ark deputy chief executive Rebecca Gilling said.

“Product packaging is the first place that Australians look for recycling information and this tells us that if products display accurate and easy-to-follow recycling instructions, consumers will be able to recycle with greater confidence.”

The Australasian Recylinc Label.

The Australasian Recycling Label.

In 2018, Planet Ark helped launch the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL), an evidence-based label that helps guide consumers on how to best dispose of each part of a product’s packaging.

“Initiatives like the ARL provide accurate on-pack instructions about how to recycle each part of a product’s packaging, taking the confusion out of recycling and giving Australians the confidence to know that they are recycling right,” Ms Gilling said.

“So keep checking it before you chuck it.”

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