WHSmith targets net-zero emissions by 2025

Retailer WHSmith has unveiled a new five-year sustainability plan to reduce its operational emissions to zero by 2025, with the company set to engage with suppliers to help them become net-zero.

WHSmith targets net-zero emissions by 2025

WHSmith has reduced absolute carbon emissions from its UK estate by 45% since 2006 and has this week unveiled new commitments to align with the net-zero trajectory.

Specifically, an objective to reach zero operational emissions by 2025 has been introduced as part of a new sustainability action plan titled ‘Our Journey to a Better Business’.

WHSmith will prioritise energy efficiency upgrades and schemes, alongside a switch to renewable electricity to facilitate decarbonisation over the next five years. For any emissions that cannot yet be eliminated, the retailer will invest in certified carbon removal schemes.

In addition, WHSmith will engage with suppliers to agree on a set of pathways to achieve net-zero for Scope 3 emissions by 2040.

WHSmith’s group chief executive Carl Cowling said: “We are committed to playing our part to protect the future of our planet and to building on our long-track record of supporting children’s literacy and education.

“I am immensely proud of how much we have achieved to date, and our new ambitions for 2025 will enable us to focus on delivering even more activity in those areas where we can make the biggest difference to society.”

The company was among the first 20 retailers in the sector to sign up to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) net-zero declaration in June. The group will work with each other, environmental experts from the BRC and third parties to define the roadmap’s overarching pre-2050 deadline and create specific, time-bound measures towards complete net decarbonisation.

Since then, more than 40 other retailers have signed up to the net-zero pledge. Retailers plan to reduce emissions from shops and distribution centres, create net-zero logistics operations, increase sustainable sourcing for products and help customers and employees reduce emissions.

WHSmith is among a cohort of retailers that have opened new stores at the UK’s first “electric forecourt”, which features rapid electric vehicle (EV) chargers, battery storage and onsite renewable generation. The forecourt opened in Essex earlier this month and is the first of 100 planned forecourts across the UK.

The company’s head of sustainability Nicki Woodhead added: “We have made some great progress over the past 15 years, but there is much more that we can help to deliver. We must play our part in achieving a net zero economy, in addressing social inequalities in our society and in using our commercial activities as a force for good.”

Mission Possible: Achieving a green recovery for retail

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The Retail edition of the report is out NOW. Created in partnership with Reconomy, the report provides expert insight from some of the UK’s major retailers and features exclusive results from edie’s survey of 243 sustainability and energy professionals. 

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Matt Mace

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