Sainsbury’s pledges zero waste and carbon goals by 2020

Sainsbury's aims to become a zero waste to landfill retailer by 2020 and is confident that all new stores built after that date will produce zero carbon.

The ambitious goals form part of the retailer’s new 20 by 20 sustainability plan launched yesterday (October 11) at its Holborn headquarters in London. Under the plan, the company has set 20 environmental goals to achieve by 2020.

Ambitions include putting all waste to positive use – here the company hopes that the waste it collects through its recycling facilities will eventually exceed that which is generated from its own operations.

Anaerobic digestion will be the preferred disposal route for any food waste from its stores that is not suitable for charitable donation, and all stores will participate in a customer food donation programme.

By 2020, the retailer is aiming to have reduced operational carbon emissions by 30%, and by 50% by 2030. It is also looking to use renewable heat in most of its supermarkets by 2030 and has pledged to convert its refrigeration systems to natural refrigerants in all stores by the same timeframe.

On the supply chain front, Sainsbury’s will roll out a supplier carbon efficiency programme and will share best practice and encourage collaborative working through dedicated forums. It is also looking to improve the carbon footprint of its primary agricultural chains by working with grower and agricultural groups.

Other measures include reducing own-brand packaging by a half compared to 2005 levels and improving the efficiency of water use, both within its own operations and along the supply chain. The company says it will map water use for its top 30 commodities and introduce supply chain risk management where necessary.

Launching the plan, Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King said that the company has been “absolutely at the forefront of sustainability” for the past six years, but has kept relatively quiet about its achievements and ambitions so far.

“It was becoming clear to us that we needed to take a longer view if we were to really stretch ourselves. All the commitments we have set will genuinely stretch us. We don’t absolutely know how we will get there yet, some of the goals may have to be revised along the way,” he admitted.

Maxine Perella

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