Woolworths at Work share sustainability tips
The Sector > Provider > General News > It might be easy being green after all – Woolworths at Work shares sustainability tips

It might be easy being green after all – Woolworths at Work shares sustainability tips

by Freya Lucas

February 20, 2024

Environmental sustainability is now a familiar term and concept for the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector. 

Quality Area 3 of the National Quality Standard encourages ECEC leaders to consider how their service demonstrates care for the environment and supports children to be environmentally responsible (Element 3.2.3).

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has identified three dimensions of sustainability – environmental, social, and economic. These dimensions are intertwined and are reflected in a new principle in the refreshed national approved learning frameworks: Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia (EYLF V2.0 2022) and My Time, Our Place: Framework for School Age Care in Australia (MTOP V2.0 2022).

The revised learning frameworks acknowledge a simple yet complex truth: when it comes to sustainability, ‘you can’t have one without the other.’ 

A service which focuses on high end, sustainably sourced materials purchased at a premium price point may be being environmentally sustainable, but not economically or socially sustainable. 

Sustainability, viewed in this light, becomes ‘more than just a worm farm’, and requires services to think deeply about their pedagogy and daily practice. 

Thankfully the team at Woolworths at Work understands that when it comes to making a more sustainable future for children, even small changes can have a big impact. 

Sustainability made simple

There are lots of simple ways to encourage sustainability in ECEC settings, Jarad Nass, Managing Director from Woolworths at Work explained. 

“While some sustainability tips are long standing – like having children place their food waste into a bowl to be composted,” Mr Nass said, “there are some aspects to sustainable thinking that services might not yet have considered – like partnering with a supplier who is committed to sustainability.” 

Jasmine Medwell, Woolworths Group Sustainability Manager continued: 

“When it comes to sustainability, Woolworths wants to create a better tomorrow by making shopping more sustainable, so that together we can leave the planet in a better place.”

“That’s why we’ve taken a number of steps towards sustainability, including reducing our emissions, making healthier choices easier, reducing food waste, delivering more sustainable packaging, and sourcing responsibly.”

Woolworths was recognised by The George Institute for Global Health as Australia’s healthiest supermarket in the State of the Food Supply report for five consecutive years (2019 – 2023), and is proud of its track record of giving away over 30 million pieces of free fruit. 

Other simple sustainable actions at service level include: 

  1. Building and promoting sustainable children’s activities and responsibilities
  2. Displaying simple, colourful posters about the environment
  3. Reading books with waste reduction and sustainability themes
  4. Putting a fun and effective recycling and compost system in place 
  5. Encouraging children to save water
  6. Using environmentally friendly products
  7. Ensuring that educators practise green behaviours 
  8. Inviting families to bring in materials for craft that can be repurposed and reused – like bottle caps, cardboard and other items from around the home.

Sustainability in action 

One of the best ways of embedding sustainable practices in early childhood, Mr Nass explained, is through fun and engaging activities, like: 

Creating a vegetable and herb garden: This allows children to develop not only the valuable life skills which come from planting and tending to a garden, but is also an environmentally sustainable measure when the produce is used for meals and snacks. 

“Woolworths is proud of its involvement in the Woolworths Junior Landcare Grants  program, which provides grants to help ECEC services, schools and community groups to create vegetable and herb gardens and other garden based initiatives,” Mr Nash said. 

You can’t be what you can’t see: To support children to develop sustainable thinking, show them sustainability in action! Taking children on excursions to places such as the local community garden, waste recycling plant and nearest nature walk immerses them in nature and gives them access to others who are passionate about the value of sustainable practice. 

Learn about native flora and fauna: When children are deeply connected with the plants and animals of their local area, they can conceptualise sustainability in a meaningful way. Rather than considering littering as harmful “to the environment” children can develop a hands-on understanding of how animals and plants in their local area are affected by litter in the environment. 

Get involved: Participating in national events such as Clean Up Australia Day helps children to feel part of the solution. There are a number of local initiatives which children can support with too! For inspiration, read about the children at Honey Bird, who rallied their community to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups, or the children from Guardian Childcare and Education Flinders Street, who rallied their entire inner city office building to participate in an anti-landfill initiative, pairing up with Cbus Property and CBRE. 

Using nature in every day play: Collecting age appropriate and safe natural items like bark, leaves and rocks to use in imaginative play helps children to feel a connection to the natural world while developing mathematical skills such as patterning and comparison, as well as supporting their sensory development through exposure to a variety of textures. 

Explore the Woolworths Junior Landcare Grants program and Landcare Learning Centre which support ELCs and schools with activities and grants to involve children in environmental sustainable activities.

Sustainable support 

“Woolworths is committed to growing greener every day, both within our business and by supporting and giving back to our customers and the communities we serve.” Ms Medwell said. 

Some of the ways in which Woolworths is becoming more and more sustainable include:

The Odd Bunch range

  • Fruit and veg that might look less than perfect and would otherwise be thrown away are sold as The Odd Bunch, helping farmers sell more crops and helping customers enjoy great value fresh produce.
  • Since 2015, The Odd Bunch has saved over 300,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables from being wasted.

Green delivery windows

  • Green delivery windows reduce the overall distance Woolworths vehicles travel and help Woolworths minimise delivery emissions.
  • With 27 new electric home delivery vehicles on the road in 2023, Woolworths is working towards 100 percent electric home deliveries by 2030.

Sustainable packaging options

  • A number of packing options are available and include reusable, recyclable or recycled materials 
  • Woolworths at Work’s Bagless to Bench service means orders are placed into delivery crates, which are unpacked onto a bench or other suitable space on arrival, reducing the need for unnecessary packaging (note: not available if ‘Leave unattended’ is ticked at checkout. For food safety reasons, certain produce, chilled and frozen items will be packed into produce or reusable bags.)
  • Services can also purchase reusable paper bags made from 70 per cent recycled paper, sourced responsibly, as certified by the Forest Stewardship Council or PEFC.

Commitment to plastic reduction

  • Woolworths supermarkets and BIG W have stopped selling 15-cent plastic bags in Australian stores and online, becoming the first national retailer to do so. This sees approximately 350 million plastic bags removed from circulation annually.
  • Woolworth’s strives to make 100 per cent of its own brand packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable.
  • Woolworths continues to help its customers recycle, by displaying the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) on all own brand product packaging. By the end of 2023, the ARL had been added to the packaging artwork of 100 per cent of its supermarket own brand products.

Food waste reduction targets

  • Woolworths donated over 34 million meals to its food rescue partners in the 2023 financial year.
  • 80 percent of food waste diverted from landfill from Woolworths supermarkets in Australia.

Towards net positive 

  • Woolworths aspires to reduce its emissions to be a net positive business by 2050 – working with its partners to remove more carbon than it emits.
  • Woolworths has reduced its own direct emissions by 36 percent since 2015. 
  • Woolworths is targeting net zero deforestation for own brand commodities like palm oil, timber and paper by 2025.


Would you like to learn more about Woolworths and Woolworths at Work’s sustainability efforts? Please see here.

To learn more about how Woolworths at Work can support your ECEC service, visit the website where you can sign up and shop instantly. 

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