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Sainsbury’s commits to £1 billion to become Net Zero by 2040

Sainsbury's commits to £1 billion to become Net Zero by 2040

UK retailer Sainsbury’s has issued a pledge that its operations will become Net Zero in line with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement, and a decade ahead of the UK Government’s own target. The project will focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging, water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating    Sainsbury’s will work collaboratively with suppliers and will ask suppliers for their own carbon reduction commitments. 

According to a press release issued by the retailer, its current carbon footprint is one million tons, which is a 35% absolute reduction in the last 15 years despite its space increasing by 46% over the same time frame. For the last six years Sainsbury’s has been awarded an A rating for taking action on Climate Change by the CDP, the highest rating of any UK supermarket.

Sainsbury’s will use the £1 billion investment to implement a programme of changes, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating. The investment will enable the business to fulfil Scope one and Scope two emissions, putting the business on course for Net Zero a decade ahead of the UK government’s deadlines. 

The retailer 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, the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement. Sainsbury’s will work with suppliers to set their own ambitious Net Zero commitments, in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

Mike Coupe, now former CEO of Sainsbury’s, said: “Our commitment has always been to help customers live well for less, but we must recognise that living well now also means living sustainably.  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. We have a strong heritage of reducing our carbon emissions – we have reduced them by 35% over the past fifteen years despite the footprint of our business increasing by over 40%. We invested £260 million in over 3,000 initiatives over the last decade, including the start of our LED lighting programme and refrigeration. Over the next 20 years we will invest a further £1 billion in programmes that will transform the way we do business and put environmental impact at the forefront of every decision we make.”

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Buying locally not the answer

Buying locally not the answer

The distance food travels is not the only consideration when establishing the carbon footprint of what we eat. A report conducted by the UK Department of Transportation has found that North American cherries have the highest ratio of emissions of any crop, despite the fact that New Zealand apples travel much further. The key point is that the apples travelled by sea, while the cherries came by air, which produces much greater emissions. Moreover, the transportation in bulk of food from around the world does not account for as many miles as the estimated 14 billion food miles UK-consumed food travels in consumers’ cars when driving home from the market. In fact, around 20% of total emissions from food stem from consumer transportation, while supply-chain transportation contributes to about 5-6% of all carbon emissions.

The largest contributor to harmful emissions is farming production, which accounts for about 45% of the total. A Swedish study found that it was more environmentally friendly to buy tomatoes produced in Spain than purchasing them locally. The Spanish climate allows tomatoes to grow naturally in fields, whereas in Sweden, tomatoes have to be grown in greenhouses, which requires fuel consumption. Total carbon emissions for transporting tomatoes from Spain were about a fifth of those from growing tomatoes in Sweden.

Source: geneticliteracyproject.org

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Vote today on EU clamp down on plastic carrier bags

Draft rules requiring EU countries to cut use of the most polluting plastic bags will be put to a vote in Strasbourg today

Draft rules requiring EU countries to cut use of the most polluting plastic bags will be put to a vote in Strasbourg today.

With pollution of water bodies and aquatic ecosystems a major environmental problem, the law would require EU member states to choose between two options:

  • take measures to ensure that average yearly consumption does not exceed 90 lightweight bags per citizen by 2019 and 40 by 2025, or
  • ensure that, by 2018, these bags are not handed to shoppers free of charge.

According to the European Parliament website, in 2010, every EU citizen used an estimated 198 plastic carrier bags, some 90% of which were lightweight. Estimates suggest more than eight billion plastic carrier bags became litter in the EU the same year.

Carrefour also seeking alternatives to plastic bags for loose fruit and vegetables

French retail giant Carrefour said in its recently published 2014 annual report that it stopped handing out free plastic bags in 2012 in consolidated stores in all its countries except Argentina and Brazil, where the process is underway.

“In anticipation of future European regulations, the Group is working to identify alternatives to the plastic bags currently used for loose purchases of fruits and vegetables,” it also said.

source: EU Parliament

image: By Trosmisiek (Public domain) via Wikimedia Commons