Helping our Customers Live More Sustainably

Most of us want to reduce our impact on the environment. A good starting point is buying and using eco-products.

These are items that have a minimal impact on the environment during their use. However, we know that buying an eco-product isn’t always simple. They can be difficult to compare with other products and sometimes eco-products can be more expensive, so you may not be afford to reduce your impact on the environment.

We want to help our customers live more sustainably by giving them peace of mind that the products they are buying have been sourced in an environmentally sustainable manner.

We started this journey in FY15 with our Wood Product Sourcing Policy which covers any product that contains wood or wood pulp – from paper products to pencils to furniture. This policy commits us to improve the sustainability of these products by only sourcing those which meet stringent sustainability standards.

During FY16, we introduced our Palm Oil Sourcing Policy which covers any product that contains palm oil (or a palm oil derivative). Palm oil is an ingredient in a wide range of product categories, most common in food, pet food, household cleaning products, personal care, health and beauty, and automotive cleaning products and additives. This policy commits us to ensure that any palm oil ingredients come from certified sustainable sources.

We have also begun developing a policy prohibiting the use of microplastics in health and beauty, personal care, and cleaning products. Microplastics are minuscule balls of plastic, often called microbeads, which are used in products for functions such as abrasion (exfoliation), bulking or controlling viscosity. The plastics are washed down the drain after use and sewer systems cannot capture them, and they consequently end up in the ocean as pollutants and are often eaten by sea creatures.

Beyond these sourcing policies, over the medium term we will be focusing on better understanding of the ingredients in our products, particularly in the food, health and beauty, household cleaning products, and personal care categories. This understanding will enable us to identify any ingredients that are potentially harmful to the environment – either in their manufacture or in use – and replace them with safer ingredients.

Plastic bags and recycling

In FY16, The Warehouse Stores ordered 14.2 million plastic checkout bags, 548,000 or 3.7% less than last year. Customers can now recycle these plastic bags in-store in some locations, together with other ‘soft’ plastics like bread bags, cereal bags and other food packaging. These are all items that customers cannot readily recycle at home. The Warehouse is part of a voluntary, industry-led initiative that enables customers to recycle these plastics in special recycling bins in our stores. The soft plastics recycling programme launched in Auckland in October 2015, and has since expanded to Hamilton and Canterbury, with Wellington beginning in October 2016 and Dunedin in early 2017. By 2018, the scheme will cover most parts of the country.

As at July 2016, the scheme had collected over 40 tonnes (approximately 10.5 million pieces of plastic), which has significantly exceeded expectations. The plastics collected through the programme are recycled into a range of items, mainly plastic ‘timber’ products that are used for park benches and walkways.

Customers recycling their plastic checkout bags helps reduce their environmental impact and to achieve even more we also encourage The Warehouse customers to switch to using reusable bags. We do this by drawing customers’ attention to reusable bags with our annual The Warehouse Reusable Bag Design competition. The competition attracts hundreds of environmentally inspired designs, with the winning design printed on reusable bags sold in store.

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