Carbon Innovation Fund: Co-op to allocate £3m to projects creating low-carbon food systems

Retailer the Co-op and its charity, the Co-op Foundation, are launching a £3m innovation fund that will support projects that slash greenhouse gas emissions and improve social sustainability across the food value chain.

Image: Co-op Group

Image: Co-op Group

Announced today (23 November), the Carbon Innovation Fund will run for three years, offering £1m in grant funding annually to community environmental causes, social enterprises, charities, start-ups and collaborative projects working on solutions for a more sustainable food system.

Ten projects will be awarded each year by the Fund and each successful applicant will be entitled to a share of up to £100,000. Applicants will need to be UK-based but their projects could help decarbonisation at any point in the food system globally.

Co-op said in a statement that it will only support projects that contribute to “real systems change” for food. The company has also said the fund will support the preservation and dissemination of ancient and indigenous knowledge as well as supporting emerging technologies and processes.

“With the Carbon Innovation Fund, we’re looking to do something different; rather than ideas for individual commercial benefit, we want innovations that can be freely shared and can be of benefit to society in general,” said Co-op Food’s chief executive Jo Whitfield.

It’s this type of co-operation that we believe we need to help accelerate our response to the climate crisis.”

The Fund is being provided with money allocated from the Co-op; the retailer allocates 2p from every £1 of sales to its charitable foundation. Applications are open until 12pm on Friday 10 December 2021.

Earlier this year, the Co-op Group built on a commitment to reach carbon neutrality for all own-brand food and drink by 2025 with a detailed 10-point climate action plan. The firm’s long-term climate goal is net-zero across all scopes, for all Group activities, by 2040. 

Then, at COP26 in Glasgow this month, the retailer joined competitors Sainsbury's, Tesco, Waitrose & Partners and Marks & Spencer in signing a new joint commitment to halve the nature and climate impacts of food systems by 2030. This initiative is being orchestrated by WWF.

The news on the Carbon Innovation Fund comes on the same week that John Lewis & Partners, in partnership with environmental charity Hubbub, launched a new £1m fund for innovative projects that help to reduce waste across the food, textiles and technology sectors.

Sarah George



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