Report Plastic Pollution

Unwrapped: Plastic use in Australian supermarkets

by AMCS and The Boomerang Alliance November 8, 2023

Supermarkets in Australia are a $130.2 billion industry, responsible for the majority of household packaging.

See how the big brands ranked in the first ever independent audit of Australian supermarket plastics use.

For too long, supermarkets have not been held accountable for the amount of plastic packaging they generate, pumping out difficult-to-recycle packaging at the expense of our environment. With no legislated mandate to curb plastic production, supermarkets have largely avoided public accountability relating to the amount of plastic on their shelves.

To help you make sustainable choices about where you shop, we’ve audited Australia’s biggest supermarket brands on their plastic reduction efforts.


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All the supermarkets claim to be leading on sustainability – but who is really making the biggest impact?

In our assessment of their performance in the 2022 financial year, it is clear that most of Australia’s supermarkets are just beginning their work to reduce plastic.

Aldi is leading the way, achieving the highest score in 2023.
Coles, Woolworths, and Metcash (IGA, Foodland, and others) are falling behind.

Supermarket Plastics - Leaderboard

Key findings

  • Most supermarkets are not transparent about their plastic footprint. 
  • Reuse and refill systems need to be scaled up urgently, to provide consumers with cost comparative options without unnecessary plastic packaging
  • Leading supermarkets are not prioritising removal of plastic, over-relying on false solutions such as ‘lightweighting’ – making packaging lighter to claim plastic reductions. 
  • Loose fresh produce is frequently more expensive than plastic-packed produce, pushing consumers towards unnecessary plastic packaging, and penalises those who try to reduce their plastic consumption in a cost-of-living crisis. 
  • Supplier packaging guidelines are rarely enforced, allowing suppliers to use whatever packaging option is cheapest or easiest to print marketing material onto.
  • Recycling and recycled content was the worst performing area of all assessed categories. In spite of the message coming from Australian supermarkets, little real progress has been made on increasing the recycled content in plastic packaging, diminishing recycling efforts and the vision of creating a circular economy for plastics in Australia. 


For more information on the methodology behind the audit, view our audit framework and volunteer survey.


You can help keep supermarkets accountable

For the first time, Australia’s federal, state, and territory governments have come together to develop new laws on plastic packaging, thanks to pressure from AMCS supporters like you.

Will you sign the petition supporting laws to cut plastic by 20% by 2030?

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