Compass Group bans air-freighted fruit to cut emissions on road to net-zero
The UK's largest food services company, Compass Group UK & Ireland, has banned the use of air freight for fresh fruit and veg as part of its plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2030.
The move forms part of a string of changes made by the firm’s procurement division, Foodbuy, this week.
Compass Group UK and Ireland first announced its 2030 net-zero target last May. Since then, it has created a dedicated sustainability team within Foodbuy to accelerate emissions baselining work and reduction initiatives, as well as broader environmental work. It has also had its emissions targets -reducing emissions across all scopes by 69% against a 2019 baseline – approved by the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) in line with 1.5C and started working with the Initiative on its new Net Zero targets framework.
“Fruit and vegetable produce is our second biggest buying category, so to have none of these items air freighted is significant,” said Foodbuy’s head of sustainability and compliance Anne Simonnet. “We have worked hard to find suppliers that are closer to home – with no compromise on quality.”
Compass UK & Ireland’s business Levy UK & Ireland made headlines last autumn by banning air-freighted produce from the menu at COP26 and, subsequently, from all of its offer.
Also announced this week by Foodbuy are a transition to only free-range eggs this year, exceeding the previous target for Compass UK & Ireland to stop using eggs from caged hens by 2025, and a phase-out of all seafood reviewed by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and given one of its two lowest grades (four, ‘needs improvement’, and five, ‘avoid’).
Foodbuy has already launched a pilot scheme with milk farmers to help measure and reduce emissions across the dairy supply chain. To date, around 500 farmers have signed up. Dairy notably represents 10% of Compass Group UK & Ireland’s emissions footprint.
Aside from decarbonising supply chains, Compass UK & Ireland has been transitioning to 100% renewable electricity at managed sites and a 100% electric fleet of company cars. It hopes to complete the former transition by the end of 2022 and the latter transition by 2024. It has also rolled out new training to chefs to help them reduce food waste. Additionally, it has been working with the University of Oxford to introduce eco-labels to all meals served through its business and industry offering.
In other net-zero news from the UK’s private sector, recruitment agency Investigo has this week set a 2025 net-zero target for its operational emissions and a 2030 net-zero target for its indirect (Scope 3) emissions.
To address operational emissions, Investigo has pledged to shift all of its offices to 100% renewable energy sources. This has already been done for its head office, in London, and learnings from that project will now be applied to regional offices in the UK and international offices in the US.
It will also begin rolling out a company car scheme to encourage staff to switch to electric vehicles (EVs), and launch updated employee engagement schemes on topics including commuting, business travelling, reducing waste and increasing recycling.
Further plans for reducing value chain emissions will be drawn up going forward. The firm has pledged to address residual emissions from operations and the value chain using nature-based offsets, in a manner compliant with the Oxford Principles for Net-Zero Aligned Offsetting.
The SME Climate Hub will be supporting Investigo on its transition to net-zero.
Investigo’s chief executive Nick Baxter said:” To achieve net-zero 20 years before the government target date will take a monumental effort from every one of us. But with the commitment of our passionate, dedicated and incredibly engaged people, I’m confident we’ll get there.”