The world is in the middle of an environmental crisis and consumers don’t know what they can do to help. The environmental cost of our desire for ‘more’ will be felt for generations. As one of New Zealand’s largest retailers, The Warehouse is tackling this head-on by progressing its circular practice while increasingly introducing more post-consumer waste solutions as a priority.
David Benattar, Chief Sustainability Officer at The Warehouse Group, says the company understands the importance of taking responsibility for its impact on the environment.
“We’re committed to operating in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way, and making recycling and waste reduction easier and more accessible for Kiwis,” he says.
“We are prioritising our work around delivering more solutions which will make recycling plastic and hard-to-recycle waste possible for consumers whose desire to live more sustainably continues to build."
“We want to empower Kiwis to make a real difference to our environment by giving them the tools they need to make a valuable and tangible contribution to collective sustainable action.”
FIGHTING AGAINST SOFT PLASTICS
For the last five years, the Soft Plastics Recycling Scheme has been operating out of a number of The Warehouse stores around the North Island. The number of participating stores will double to 27 across the country, including seven in the South Island.
From August 2019 to July 2020 alone more than 4.6 million pieces of single use soft plastic, equating to approximately 29.19 tonnes, has been collected and diverted from landfill. This includes items such as bread bags, frozen food bags, toilet paper packaging, confectionery and biscuit wrap, chip bags, pasta and rice bags, courier envelopes, sanitary hygiene packaging, squeeze pouches and basically anything made of soft plastic which can be scrunched into a ball. Waste collected through the programme is recycled into a range of items such as cable covers, garden edging and fence posts for vineyards.
A RECYCLING INITIATIVE TARGETING POST-CONSUMER WASTE
In April 2021 The Warehouse will team up with recycling company, TerraCycle, who has partnered with leading global brands including Colgate, Gillette, Schwarzkopf, Zuru and NESCAFÉ, to provide New Zealanders with a free recycling service for hard-to-recycle waste that would traditionally end up in landfill.
The recycling programme will be initially trialled at three Auckland The Warehouse stores in Silverdale, Albany and Manukau.
Items which will be accepted as part of the trial initiative include toothpaste tubes and caps, toothbrushes, razors, hair colouring packaging (bottles and tubes) and lids, NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto coffee capsules and Zuru Bunch O Balloons which will be recycled and reprocessed by TerraCycle.
Benattar says the “game changing” initiative will provide customers with ways to recycle waste which cannot be done through kerbside collections and divert a significant amount of waste from landfill. “Almost all of the hard-to-recycle rubbish we throw into the bin ends up in landfill because it’s not accepted in kerbside recycling.”
“Technology and innovation are being harnessed in programmes like this to provide cradle-to-cradle solutions to waste reduction and landfill pile up.”
CREATING A CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Benattar says programmes such as the one being rolled out in conjunction with TerraCycle are part of a broader plan to roll-out further post-consumer waste solutions across the store network this year.
“Creating a circular economy is fundamental to a sustainable environment and reducing climate impact.”
Benattar says the company has a Group-focused approach to sustainability which is being embedded in everything it does. In 2019, The Warehouse Group (which also includes Warehouse Stationery, Noel Leeming, TheMarket.com, 1-day.co.nz and Torpedo7) became the first large New Zealand organisation and the third major retailer in the world to go carbon neutral. And in September 2020, The Warehouse launched its Sustainable & Affordable campaign which highlights its sustainable actions with respect to products, people and planet.
For more information about The Warehouse’s sustainability journey, visit thewarehouse.co.nz/sustainable.