Countdown unveils significant work plan to help turn the tide on climate change

Countdown has announced it will revolutionise its business to help meet ambitious new sustainability goals it has set to achieve by 2025, which include sending zero food waste to landfill across its 183 supermarkets, having 20 per cent Māori and Pasifika representation at store manager level and above, and reducing its emissions by 63 per cent from a 2015 baseline.

Countdown’s Sustainability Plan 2025, Kia pai ake te apōpō - A Better Tomorrow, details the significant work it will undertake over the coming years to reduce its environmental impact and support its team and communities.

While there are more than 40 commitments included in the plan, Countdown has identified 13 game-changers from across three focus areas: people, planet and product, that it believes will drive some of the most powerful changes.

Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability, Kiri Hannifin, says the commitments are more ambitious than ever before to meet the scale of challenges the planet is facing.

“Climate change is a very real and present threat and we have to keep making progress on the gains we’ve made over the last few years when it comes to sustainability. We’ve recognised that to do that, we can’t be vague in our intentions - we’ve had to make sure our plan is game-changing for Aotearoa’s environment and our people.

“This plan isn’t about doing the easy things that make people feel good about our brand in the short-term. It’s about tackling the big, gnarly issues, and making changes that will have long-lasting positive impacts on our team, our communities and the environment,” Kiri says.  

“Our game-changer commitments in particular are the ones that will shift the dial for not only our team and customers, but for all Kiwis. They tackle the big issues like making a firm commitment on zero food waste to landfill from our stores by 2025; actively encouraging a diverse and inclusive team with more Māori and Pasifika team members at senior levels; developing and building our supermarkets and distribution centres in more sustainable ways; and cutting carbon emissions dramatically.

“We want all our own brand packaging to be reusable or recyclable, and that our own brand products are not only sourced sustainably, but are healthier too.  We had previously committed to our own brand eggs being cage-free, but we’re taking this even further so that eggs used in any of our own brand products are cage-free too,” says Kiri.

“Importantly, we’re taking a stand to make sure that the mental health and wellbeing of our team is at the forefront of our business, and that we’re creating a place to work where it’s ok not to be ok all the time.”

Countdown has also joined the Accessibility Tick programme with a commitment to achieving year-on-year improvements on their accessibility baseline. The baseline will be developed alongside the team from the Accessibility Tick programme.

“We hope that this plan demonstrates our unwavering commitment to helping make Aotearoa a great place to live, where our people and environment thrive, and a place that is recognised globally as leading the way when it comes to tackling climate change,” Kiri says. 

To read Countdown’s full 2025 Sustainability Plan Kia pai ake te apōpō - A Better Tomorrow, visit: www.countdown.co.nz/sustainability 

Countdown’s game-changer 2025 commitments are as below:

  • 20 per cent of senior leadership positions (store manager level and above) will be held by Māori and Pasifika New Zealanders.

  • We will join the Accessibility Tick programme and achieve year-on-year improvements on our baseline.

  • Our team members are empowered and encouraged to support their wellbeing.  We are committed to building a workplace where people believe it’s ok not to feel ok, and it’s absolutely ok to ask for help.

  • We will have a positive impact on our communities by investing the equivalent of 1 per cent of a three‑year rolling average of total Earnings Before Interest and Tax (EBIT) in community partnerships and programmes.

  • We will support teams identified at risk of future changes in how we work (e.g. automation) through the establishment of the Woolworths Future of Work Fund, providing access to tools and support to help them prepare for the future.

  • All new property developments will achieve a 4 Green Star design and as-built rating, and by 2025 we aim to have a 5 Green Star minimum standard.

  • Zero food waste to landfill from our stores by 2025.

  • Achieve net zero waste from our support offices by 2023.

  • Reduce our emissions by 63 per cent by 2030, from a 2015 baseline

  • 100 per cent of Own Brand packaging will be recyclable or reusable

  • Characters, graphics and activities that could be perceived as primarily appealing to children will only be used on healthier Own Brand product packaging. 

  • 100 per cent of our Own Brand products will have a least one health or sustainability attribute

  • 100 per cent of our Own Brand eggs and the eggs used in Own Brand products will be cage-free. 

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