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waste and water use


Waste and water use

We strive to reduce our waste to landfill and water use where possible.

We are working to reduce our waste to landfill intensity rate and to divert as much as possible to recycling, both in our operations and for our customers.

Water use is a material issue in our industrial businesses and our focus is on using water more efficiently, reducing our water use intensity rate and replacing scheme water with reclaimed or recycled water where possible.

Reducing water use

This year, the Group recorded water use of 15,913 megalitres, which is in line with consumption last year. Of this, 4,500 megalitres (29 per cent) is reclaimed and recycled water at the Curragh mine site.

Curragh continues to reduce raw water consumption. River water use at the mine has decreased by 27 per cent over the past two years. This can be attributed to greater water efficiencies, innovation and increased use of reclaimed mine water.


Recycling and waste

This year, we increased our waste to landfill by 11 per cent to 151,000 tonnes and increased our waste recycled by 17 per cent to 356,000 tonnes. This is primarily due to improved data capture methods (which allow us to capture liquid waste disposed and recycled at Coles, Kmart Tyre and Auto and WesCEF), as well as store growth at Coles, Kmart and Bunnings.

As one of Australia’s largest food retailers, the Group's main source of waste is cardboard, food and plastic at Coles. Coles has comprehensive strategies to recycle and divert waste from landfill for these components. The principal component of Coles' recycling stream is cardboard, and this year its stores recycled 5.3 per cent more than last year. Coles donated more than 7,800 tonnes of food via its partnerships with SecondBite and Foodbank, a 50 per cent increase on last year.

During the year, Kmart conducted a review of its waste, and identified a number of opportunities for improvement. This includes better separation and recycling of flexible plastic and cardboard, and the reduction or recycling of polystyrene packaging.

Officeworks has increased the percentage of waste recycled to 71 per cent. Major initiatives included a waste optimisation program aimed at reducing waste bin size and an ongoing awareness program to educate team members on what is recyclable.


This year, Target, Kmart and Officeworks funded the collection and recycling of more than 142 tonnes of unwanted televisions and computer waste, under the National Television and Computer Recycling Scheme Product Stewardship Agreement.



tonnes '000
2016   151
2015   1361
2014   135
2013   144
2012   159
2016   356
2015   303
2014   282
2013   255
2012   248
1 This does not include liquid waste disposed at Coles and WesCEF

Helping customers recycle

Our retailers understand that our environmental responsibilities extend beyond the time a product leaves our stores and they continue to support the circular economy through customer recycling programs.

Some highlights of our customer recycling initiatives during the year include:

  • Coles customers returned more than 299 tonnes of soft plastic to our stores to be recycled via the REDcycle program which recycles plastic bags and packaging and is now available at more than 500 supermarkets.
  • Officeworks collected 390,651 kilograms of computers and accessories through the BringITback program and the equivalent of 41,364 mobile phones and batteries for recycling.
  • Officeworks has a range of Zero Waste Boxes that enable our customers to recycle used products such as coffee pods, pens and markers, or office supplies products that were otherwise destined for landfill.
  • Ten Bunnings stores in metropolitan Melbourne continued to participate in the Victorian Batteryback Program, with more than 11,700 kilograms of household batteries collected since participation began in 2009.



As retailers, many of our divisions can have an impact on waste by making changes to how products are packaged. All retail divisions have made commitments in relation to packaging under the Australian Packaging Covenant (APC), to which Wesfarmers is a signatory. 

The APC is a packaging waste reduction and recycling initiative between governments, the packaging industry, retailers and consumer brand owners. Wesfarmers reports annually on its progress and packaging initiatives.

Our 2016 report and action plan are available here.

In 2016, Wesfarmers was pleased to be acknowledged as an Australian Packaging Covenant 'high performer'.

Improvements to packaging this year include:

  • Officeworks have partnered with Planet Ark to develop a packaging recycling label to make it easier for consumers to do the right thing when it comes to recycling.
  • Target focused on removing excess packaging, maximising the use of shelf ready packaging and re-defining apparel folding standards to reduce the amount of packaging sent to stores. Transit packaging has been optimised by reducing the number of cartons available to suppliers and increasing the number of products being packed in each box. These cartons are then reused in distribution centres to distribute replenishment lines to stores.
  • Coles regularly reviews its product packaging to ensure it is aligned with the sustainable packaging guidelines as outlined by the Australian Packaging Covenant. All packaging development is subject to the requirements of our Sustainable Packaging policy which commits Coles brand to improve recycling communication on pack, and maximise the use of recyclable and recycled material.
"As the first company to adopt the Australian Recycling Label, Officeworks is leading the way in helping its customers make better recycling decisions. This results in greater packaging recovery and less contamination of the recycling stream." Paul Kymenjo, Chief Executive Officer, Planet Ark

Contaminated sites

Some of our businesses are actively managing contaminated sites. Wesfarmers is involved in the remediation of several contaminated sites that were owned or leased by former Wesfarmers businesses that have now ceased operations at these sites. Wesfarmers continues to undertake ongoing monitoring and reporting obligations on the sites and in most cases active remediation activities have been completed. CSBP, which is part of Chemicals, Energy and Fertilisers, continues to monitor groundwater in accordance with statutory requirements following the successful remediation of a former fertiliser site in Bayswater, Western Australia.

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GRI Reference: G4-DMA (Water), G4-DMA (Product and Services), G4-DMA (Environmental grievance mechanisms), G4-EN8, G4-EN23, G4-EN27