Tesco and Target join CDP’s supply chain initiative

Tesco and Target have committed to a programme to cut emissions, tackle deforestation and promote water efficiency in their supply chains, through a partnership with CDP.

The retail giants have joined the likes of Unilever, Walmart and Microsoft to sign up to CDP’s supply chain programme, which requires signatories to scrutinise their suppliers in a bid to reduce their overall carbon emissions and water footprints.

The move by the firms, which made the commitment alongside US pharmacy CVS Health, is timely. Research from CDP revealed that emissions in the supply chain across all sectors are, on average, around four times greater than those from a company’s direct emissions. This figure rises to up to seven times greater for retailers and other consumer-facing companies.

Target’s vice president of corporate social responsibility (CSR), Jennifer Silberman, said she hoped the pledges from Tesco, Target and CVS Health will act as a “catalyst for change across the retail industry”.

“The future of Target’s business depends on taking care of the resources we have today, so we are constantly working to find more environmentally friendly ways to bring guests the products they want,” Silberman said. 

“We have been reporting our own emissions to CDP since 2012 and will now seek this data from key Target suppliers to better support them in achieving greater efficiency, investments in innovation and sustainable choices.”

Cutting out carbon

Since the CDP supply chain initiative was launched ten years ago, 115 global organisations with a combined annual spend of more than $3trn have requested sustainability data from more than 11,500 of their suppliers.

Other pledge signatories include Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola and Philips Lighting, with members coming from a range of sectors across the US, UK, Europe and Asia.

“It’s very encouraging to see so many of the world’s biggest buyers taking supply chain sustainability seriously,” CDP’s head of supply chains, Sonya Bhonsle, said.

“By requesting data from their suppliers, they are shining a light on the risks hidden deep within their production chains – and uncovering a myriad of opportunities for reducing their overall environmental footprint, boosting innovation and cutting costs.”

CDP noted that the rising number of participants in its supply chain scheme coincides with growing momentum behind the take-up of science-based targets among corporates, with the likes of Ikea, L’Oreal and Hilton recently setting strategies in line with the Paris Agreement’s target of limiting the global temperature increase to 2C or below.

Indeed, more than 400 companies have applied to have their decarbonisation ambitions approved by the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), and only ones that meet strict criteria are approved.

Tesco and Target have science-based targets of their own, with the former striving to become a carbon-neutral business by 2050.

The British supermarket, which employs around 440,000 people, has set “milestone” goals to reduce its absolute carbon emissions from its operations by 35% by 2020 and 60% by 2025, against a 2015-2016 baseline, as it progresses towards this lofty aim.

Meanwhile, US-based clothing and homewares giant Target has pledged to source 100% renewable electricity for its operations as it progresses towards a goal of reducing its absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by a quarter by 2025. An interim goal is in place to have 500 buildings fitted with solar panels by 2020, and 350 projects have so far been completed.

Sarah George

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