Coles Group on behalf of itself and participating supermarkets

Summary

On 16 November 2022, the ACCC received an application from Coles Group Limited seeking authorisation for itself, Woolworths Group Limited and ALDI Stores (together, the Participants) and current and future Program Partners to engage in certain conduct in connection with the Soft Plastics Taskforce, an industry-led taskforce, that will initially be chaired by the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water. The Participants also sought urgent interim authorisation to start coordinating to find solutions to address the immediate effect of the suspension of the REDcycle program while the ACCC considers the application for authorisation. The REDcycle program is a return-to-store soft plastics recovery program that facilitates the collection and processing of soft plastics into durable recycled plastic products.

Broadly, the Participants have sought authorisation to propose, discuss, enter into or give effect to any contract, arrangement or understanding between them, or engage in any conduct that:

  1. occurs at, in preparation for, or arises out of, a meeting of the Soft Plastics Taskforce and
  2. that has the purpose of considering, developing or implementing an interim solution for the storage, transportation, processing, recycling and/or management of soft plastics collected from the sites of two or more Participants.

On 25 November 2022, the ACCC granted urgent interim authorisation, with conditions, to enable the Participants and Program Partners to engage in conduct that is narrower than the conduct for which authorisation has been sought, prior to the ACCC’s final determination. Broadly, the conditions imposed on the interim authorisation require the Participants to provide to the ACCC minutes of meetings of the Soft Plastics Taskforce and provide the ACCC with periodic reports which detail the progress the Taskforce has made towards a short-term solution. Where appropriate, non-confidential versions of these documents will be made available on the ACCC’s public register.  

An indicative timetable for the ACCC’s assessment is set out below.

Indicative date

Stage in assessment process

16 November 2022

Lodgement of application and supporting submission.

28 November 2022

Public consultation process begins.

19 December 2022

Closing date for submissions from interested parties.

March 2023

Draft determination.

March 2023

Public consultation on draft determination including any conference if called.

April 2023

Final determination.

Applicant(s)

  • Coles Group Limited

Authorisation number(s)

  • AA1000627-1