Coles’ support reaches new record in year of challenges

In a year marked by drought, bushfires and COVID-19, Coles and its customers, team members and suppliers have contributed a record $139 million to support communities across Australia – more than 20 per cent higher than the previous year.

As revealed in its Sustainability Report released today, the most significant component of Coles’ support for the community was food donated to national partners SecondBite and Foodbank to feed Australians who were facing tough times in FY20.

Coles’ $139 million in community support1 comprised $125 million from Coles directly in cash, in-kind support, management costs and time, and $14 million contributed by Coles’ customers, team members and suppliers from activities such as fundraising.

Achievements also outlined in the Coles Sustainability Report include:

Equivalent of more than 147 million meals provided to people in need since 2003;

  • More than 1 billion pieces of flexible plastic through REDcycle since 2011;
  • 79 per cent of waste diverted from landfill, compared with 74 per cent in the previous year;
  • Over 4700 Indigenous team members employed at Coles – 16 per cent more than in FY19;
  • More than 2400 Own Brand products displaying Health Star Rating (by the end of FY20);
  • A reduction of 36.5 per cent in greenhouse gas emissions from 2009;
  • Direct milk sourcing with dairy farmers in Victoria and south coast of NSW;
  • More than 2000 Own Brand products displaying the Australasian Recycling Label to help customers to recycle;
  • Broadest range of RSPCA Approved products of any major Australian supermarket;
  • 18.3 per cent improvement in total recordable injury frequency rate compared to FY19;
  • Awarded “Most Popular Retail and Fast-Moving Consumer Goods Employer” in the Top 100 Graduate Employers 2020 Awards;
  • Best Sustainable Seafood Supermarket in Australia awarded by MSC; and
  • Large Retailer Sector Award from the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation in FY20.

Coles CEO Steven Cain said Coles’ contribution to the community and the environment was central to its strategy of becoming Australia’s most sustainable supermarket, and to help all Australians to help them lead healthier, happier lives.

“As one of Australia’s largest companies, we understand our responsibility to support our community and minimise our impact on the environment,” he said.

“With drought in much of the country, floods in other parts, bushfires and then the COVID-19 global pandemic, FY20 was a year like no other. We are grateful to our team members, community partners, suppliers and customers for working with us to help reach new milestones for sustainability despite these challenges.”

In addition to its regular donations to SecondBite and Foodbank from supermarkets and distribution centres, Coles donated groceries to the retail value of $7.9 million during COVID-19.

SecondBite CEO Jim Mullan said the support of Coles during FY20 made a significant difference to so many Australians who had fallen on difficult times.

“In a year of extraordinary events, you need extraordinary partnerships to cope. SecondBite could not have made, nor continue to make, our contribution in support of lives of Australians blighted by COVID 19 or bushfires without the support of the entire Coles team,” he said.

“Coles’ decision early in the year to provide additional food relief on top of its regular store donations was an act of real generosity and ensured that food remained available for families and communities.”

“We have always understood the value of our partnership with Coles and our shared commitment to supporting the lives of those less fortunate. This year, perhaps more than any other, has demonstrated this partnership in action.”

Foodbank CEO Brianna Casey said Coles’ support was invaluable in a year which has “undoubtedly been our most challenging yet.”

“In addition to regularly donating essential food and groceries to help us provide relief to more than 815,000 people every month in ‘normal’ circumstances, Coles has stood with us shoulder to shoulder as we responded to unprecedented demand for food relief through drought, the devastating summer bushfires and then COVID-19,” she said.

“When COVID-19 hit our shores and panic buying escalated to a point that Foodbank’s own supplies became depleted, Coles committed to additional weekly donations to ensure we were able to get the food and groceries we needed to the increasing number of vulnerable people in our community. This year has been incredibly tough, but Coles has stepped up and helped us no matter the ask, no matter the timeframe, no matter the location, to help us ensure no Australian goes hungry.”

To read the Coles Sustainability Report, click here.

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