Sainsbury’s makes big investment to become net zero

Marianne Wilson
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Sainsbury’s has committed itself to having net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 and is making a major long-term investment to achieve its goal. 

The U.K’s Britain’s second largest supermarket company said it would invest 1.0 billion pounds ($1.31 billion) over 20 years to becoming a net zero business across its operations by 2040, which is a decade ahead of the U.K. government’s own target.

Sainsbury’s, which operates some 2,300 stores, said it  will use the investment to implement a series of changes, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water usage and also increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating. 

“Our commitment has always been to help customers live well for less, but we must recognize that living well now also means living sustainably,” stated Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury’s. “We have a duty to the communities we serve to continue to reduce the impact our business has on the environment and we are committing to reduce our own carbon emissions and become net zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the government’s own targets, because 2050 isn’t soon enough. “Over the next 20 years we will…transform the way we do business and put environmental impact at the forefront of every decision we make.”

Sainsbury’s, which has reduced its carbon emissions  by 35% during the past fifteen years while increasing its business footprint  by over 40%, will work with the Carbon Trust to assess emissions and set science-based targets for reduction, publicly reporting on progress every six months. The targets will align the business with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, in line with the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement. 

Here are some of the core areas that Sainsbury’s will focus on to tackle climate change.

Reduction in carbon emissions: Sainsbury’s will reduce greenhouse gas emissions within its own operations to net zero, increasing the use of renewable energy while reducing overall energy usage. Fridges will be made as efficient as possible through the use of innovative technology and by increasing the use of natural refrigerants. By the end of 2022, all Sainsbury’s stores will be 100% lit by LED.

Also, the retailer will increasing the percentage of its truck fleet using alternative zero and low carbon fuels to 20% by 2025.

Lowering water usage: Sainsbury’s will minimize the use of water in its own operations, driving towards being water neutral by 2040. As the first retailer to be certified with the Carbon Trust Water Standard, Sainsbury’s uses 1 billion liters less water annually than in 2005. One hundred and seventy stores are fitted with rainwater harvesting facilities and these are now standard in new stores.

The company will review every aspect of water use in its business, measuring and lowering the amount of water used in bathrooms and will look to recycle water from areas such as ice on fish counters and car washes.

Use of plastic: Sainsbury’s will halve plastic packaging by 2025 and then go further, being the first U.K. supermarket to make a commitment of this scale. 

By the end of 2020, dark colored, hard-to-recycle plastic and polystyrene packaging from Sainsbury’s own brands will be replaced with recyclable alternatives.  Also, where possible, plastic film on fruit and vegetables will be replaced or removed. For spring summer 2020 the transit packaging on the chain’s “Home Cookshop” delivery will be removed and replaced by paper, removing 662 tons of plastic.

Recycling: Sainsbury’s will increase the use of recycling in its own operations and make it easier for customers and colleagues to recycle. The retailer will recycle more operational waste and continue to expand and provide facilities to help customers recycle unwanted clothing, metal cans, glass, paper, batteries and other materials.

Tackling food waste: Sainsbury’s is committed to reducing food waste by 50% by 2030. It has developed innovative packaging and clearer labelling to increase the shelf life of products and let customers know how long they can enjoy them for, meaning less food goes to waste.

Sainsbury’s, which has sent no food to landfill since 2013, has 2,093 food donation programs in place across supermarkets and convenience stores, ensuring that 87% of its stores redistribute food to good causes locally.

Click here for more on Sainsbury’s sustainable initiatives.