Sustainability drive saves Co-op £40m per year

The Co-operative Group's ethical plan, launched 12 months ago has paid dividends, reducing emissions, slashing water usage and making an impressive impact on the bottom line.

Just one year on from the formulation of its latest ambitious sustainability programme, the group has cut operational greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by more than a third (35%) and reduced water consumption by 20%. And, importantly, the savings resulting from environmental efficiency initiatives total almost £40m for the year.

Now, the group has revealed a new set of 53 commitments including targets for between now and 2014, such as reducing GHG emissions by 50% and water usage by 30%.

Other sustainable and ethical achievements over the past 12 months include £700m lent to green energy projects, and a commitment to ensure that 70% of developing world products that can be Fairtrade, will be Fairtrade by the end of March this year.

Group chief executive Peter Marks said: "Despite the economic downturn we have remained true to our pledge to show the way on corporate responsibility."

While the figures are testament to the work in themselves, the scheme has also had a resounding endorsement from Forum for the Future founder-director Jonathan Porritt, who said: "If you want to see what the 'green economy' looks like in practice, look no further."

Click here to view The Co-operative's 2011 Sustainability report.

Will Parsons


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