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Giant Aussie retailer gets behind waste reduction

Shoppers at Australian retail chain Coles Myer will be part of a national effort to minimise packaging waste under an agreement signed in Melbourne.

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill today congratulated Coles Myer on becoming the first retailer to sign the National Packaging Covenant. With 2,000 stores around Australia, the group represents nearly a fifth of the retail market.

"Coles Myer already has a strong environmental record and this agreement will encourage even greater results," Senator Hill said. "At Coles Supermarkets alone, 120 million plastic check-out bags have been recycled over the past five years, while back of store, 70,000 tonnes of paper and cardboard are recycled each year.

"By signing the Covenant, Coles Myer makes a commitment to continuous improvement."

The National Packaging Covenant is a voluntary agreement between government and business to minimise the impact on the environment of consumer packaging waste. It is supported by the Federal Government's $1.5 billion Natural Heritage Trust.

"The Covenant is an excellent example of governments and industry working cooperatively towards reducing the environmental impact of packaging waste, closing the recycling loop and ensuring that kerbside recycling collection programs are sustainable," Senator Hill said.

"Based on shared responsibility through product stewardship, it encourages all participants in the packaging chain, from raw material suppliers to retailers such as Coles Myer, to accept responsibility for reducing the environmental impacts associated with packaging products.

"The retail sector is an important link in the packaging supply chain, connecting product manufacturers and the general community. It is well placed to promote effective recycling and to encourage responsible purchasing decisions."

Almost 90 government, industry and business representatives from all sectors of the packaging chain have signed the Covenant. These include companies representing large percentages of their markets: steel can producers (85 per cent); liquidpaperboard and aluminium can producers (100 per cent); cardboard box manufacturers (95 per cent); PET manufacturers (80 per cent), and 92 per cent of the soft drink market.

"Coles Myer has joined other Australian companies in taking the first step towards effective product stewardship. I urge others to discover how ecological sustainability also saves money," Senator Hill said.

The Coles Myer Group is also a member of the Buy Recycled Business Alliance and Clean Up Australia's Waste Reduction Accreditation Program.

More information is available at www.environment.gov.au

See also www.australia.org.nz

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