Sainsbury’s stores go ‘water neutral’

Sainsbury's has moved to reset the bar in terms of water efficiency with its first 'water neutral' store in Weymouth Gateway. Next month, a new site opening in Leicester will also achieve the same status.

The stores will be ‘self sufficient’ in water. Working closely with Waterscan, the supermarket will apply the government and Environment Agency definition of ‘water neutral’ to both stores. This is where “the total water used within a defined region after a development does not increase the total water used in that region immediately before that development had commenced”.

In Weymouth, for instance, 70% of the store’s water demand will be met through rainwater harvesting and other infrastructure including low flush toilets, waterless urinals and low flow percussion taps.

The other 30%, which needs to be drinking quality potable water for food preparation, will be offset by sponsoring water saving initiatives at partner sites in the local community. Sainsbury’s will offset at least 4.5 m3 of mains water each day through collaborations with Weymouth College and Wey Valley School. This will also substantially reduce the school and college’s annual water bills.

Sainsbury’s property director Neil Sachdev said that measuring, managing and reducing water use is one of the most important focus areas for the retailer.

“By collaborating with our partners and suppliers to better understand the amount of water we’re using in our operations and supply chain, we can start to put measures in place like water neutral to help reduce the amount we use and address this global challenge,” he said.

Last year, the supermarket’s CEO Justin King suggested that water is potentially the biggest environmental concern facing the food industry. “From our point of view, [water] is more important than carbon,” he told those attending his City Food lecture in London.

In March, Sainsbury’s achieved its target of a 50% relative reduction in its water use (per m2) – a saving of almost one billion litres each year while growing its floor space by up to 40% since 2005/06. It did this by introducing measures including rainwater harvesting and fitting pre-rinse spray taps and low flush toilets in all its stores. It also became the first retailer to receive the Carbon Trust Water Standard for reducing water use year-on-year.

Sainsbury’s and Waterscan are finalists in the water management category at this year’s Sustainability Leaders Awards.

edie staff

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