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Woolies, Aldi plan leaves Coles in the dust

Jessica Yun
·3-min read
(Source: Getty)
Woolworths and Aldi have both made commitments to be powered by 100% renewable energy. (Source: Getty)

Woolworths has joined Aldi in committing to make its operations 100 per cent renewable, leaving Coles the only other player in the competitive Australian supermarket war yet to make the same commitment.

Aldi announced in late August that its Australian operations would be 100 per cent powered by renewable electricity by 2021.

Woolworths has now made a similar commitment, though it has set itself a longer time frame of 2025.

The supermarket giant operates 995 stores across the nation, but also includes Big W and Dan Murphy’s in its group, employing more than 215,000 people in total. It is the nation’s sixth largest electricity user and consumes 1 per cent of Australia’s electricity.

The new commitment means 1 per cent will be slashed from Australia’s total emissions.

Not only will Woolworths reduce its emissions but it will aim to be net positive, which means it will remove more carbon than it produces.

Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said going 100 per cent renewable had become an expectation among its customers, teams and shareholders.

“We have a unique opportunity to use our scale for good and make a real impact. Over the coming years, we’ll invest tens of millions of dollars into renewable energy partnerships and prioritise new green energy projects to spur growth in the industry and new jobs in the sector,” he said.

“We want to give our customers confidence that their food and everyday needs are delivered to them ethically, sustainably and that we continue to lift the bar for our industry.”

Greenpeace praised the investment, pointing out that the supermarket had joined other giants such as Bunnings, Officeworks and Telstra.

“What Woolies does matters,” said Greenpeace Australia Pacific REenergise Campaign Director Lindsay Soutar.

“Woolworths Group going 100 per cent renewable puts solar and wind power at the heart of Australian communities across the country,” she said.

“The scale of Woolworth’s energy commitment is vast. Using their abundant roof space for solar panels, and sourcing the rest of their electricity needs from wind and solar farms in regional Australia will create new jobs and speed our transition to a renewable-powered grid.”

Woolworths will make “huge savings” on electricity bills, and the move will be well-received by consumers, Soutar added.

Major change often follows when major brands make large-scale renewable energy commitments, she said.

Greenpeace has called for Coles to make the same commitment.

Coles defends 33% renewable energy

However, Coles has side-stepped the calls and defended its emission reduction so far, adding that a number of initiatives would result in the supermarket consuming 33 per cent of its energy from renewable sources.

“Since 2009 Coles has reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 36.5 per cent and we are working to reduce them even further,” said a Coles spokesperson.

“Coles has led the market in its support of renewable energy, last year announcing a 10-year agreement to purchase power from three solar plants now being built in New South Wales to provide 10 per cent of Coles’ national power needs.

“In September, Coles announced a further agreement to source more than 90% of our Queensland electricity requirements from renewable sources in a 10-year agreement with the state-owned clean energy generator and retailer CleanCo.

“Combined, the NSW and QLD initiatives will mean that approximately 33 per cent of Coles electricity will be renewable.”

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