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Asia Minute: Addressing Australia’s Landfill Challenge

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Two of the largest grocery store chains in Australia are taking new steps to cut down on the amount of waste they produce. It’s the latest development in a series of moves aimed at curbing waste in Australia. HPR’S Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

Coles and Woolworths are the two giants of the grocery store business in Australia. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, together they control about 80-percent of the market.

Both chains are cutting back on their use of plastic in food packaging.

Coles will stop wrapping bananas and kale in plastic, along with some other fruits and vegetables. The store also plans to divert 90-percent of its waste away from landfills within four years.

Woolworths will stop selling plastic straws by the end of this year.

Both retailers said the decisions are a direct response to demands from consumers.

The initiatives come as other moves are made around Australia to reduce the amount of waste going to landfills.

Queensland state, which includes the city of Brisbane, will ban single-use plastic bags starting next month – along with New South Wales and Western Australia.

Credit Alpha / Flickr
Woolworths Supermarket in Chadstone Shopping Centre

Victoria state, home to the city of Melbourne, is exploring whether to go ahead with plans to construct a waste-burning facility to produce electricity and reduce the amount of trash going to landfills.

As for the grocery stores, environmental groups support the moves, but also say the stores could do even more to fight waste — such as using more recycled material in their packaging.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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