Climate and waste: HelloFresh and Superdrug make new sustainability commitments

The commitments

The new commitment from HelloFresh was revealed in its latest annual sustainability report and builds on efforts to date to minimise waste from packaging. The business, which charted a 111% year-on-year increase in sales during 2020, has, for example, begun packing some ingredients loose and has replaced plastic trays for popular meat and fish lines with plastic-free alternatives.

“HelloFresh inherently wastes less food than traditional food retailers by sourcing exactly the right quantities of ingredients based on customer orders, rather than estimating demand,” the company said in a statement.

Nonetheless, the statement confirms that the business views food waste as a key focus area – given food waste’s contribution not only to resource and social issues but to climate change. WRAP estimates that food waste is attributable to 8-10% of global annual emissions.

HelloFresh is aiming to halve the amount of surplus food that is landfilled or incinerated by 2022, against a 2020 baseline. 2020 levels were 0.6 grams of waste per euro of revenue. Actions that will assist with the delivery of the new target include expansions of partnerships on food redistribution.

Elsewhere in the sustainability report, HelloFresh outlined an ambition to reduce emissions from production facilities by 2022 – again, on a per-euro-of-revenue basis. It will continue to transition to renewable electricity, while exploring other low-carbon energy and improving efficiencies, to meet this target. HelloFresh was certified as carbon neutral last year but will now seek to reduce its reliance on offsetting by further driving down emissions in-house.

“In any rapidly growing context, meeting increased demand is not good enough unless environmental impact is mitigated,” HelloFresh UK’s chief executive officer Laurent Guillemain said. “As the world’s largest meal-kit provider, we have a responsibility to set a clear precedent for sustainable growth – and it’s a responsibility that we take very seriously.”

A.S. Watson Group

The announcement from HelloFresh came in the same week that A.S. Watson Group, the parent company of Superdrug, Savers and the Perfume Shop, launched a sweeping new sustainability strategy through to 2030. Its pillars are energy, emissions, plastics and community.

On energy and emissions, the headline commitment is to reduce the emissions intensity of electricity sourcing by 30%, against a 2015 baseline, and to reduce direct (Scope 1) and power-related (Scope 2) emissions overall by 40% within the same timeframe. Priority focus areas will include energy efficiency improvements at stores and warehouses, alongside the procurement of clean electricity.

On plastics, A.S. Watson Group has committed to eliminating unnecessary packaging from own-brand and third-party products this decade. PVC will be a focus area, as it is hard-to-recycle in all of the company’s major markets. The Group will also increase the proportion of recycled content in its overall plastic packaging portfolio to 20%.

These overarching commitments on plastic build on one-off pledges made by Superdrug in recent years. For example, the company removed plastic applicators from own-brand tampon lines following pressure from campaigners.

The strategy’s ‘community’ pillar includes a commitment to organise 180 actions that benefit people this year, globally, to mark the company’s 180th anniversary. These include providing free surgeries to children with cleft lips and palettes; hosting hackathons to develop green innovations and making charitable donations.

“We serve over 5.9 billion customers every year around the world and we are thankful to have a powerful community to do good together, to help build a better and more sustainable world,” A.S. Watson Group’s chief operating officer Malina Ngai said.

Sarah George

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