Sainsbury’s will launch a £1 billion sustainability plan today, in which it pledges to double the amount of British food it sells by 2020.
The promise to back British food
is part of Sainsbury’s
‘20 by 20 Sustainability Plan
’, in which the grocer is undertaking to meet 20 sustainability targets by 2020. Another key target of the retailer is to reduce absolute operational carbon emissions by 30 per cent and relative operational carbon emissions by 65 per cent on 2005 levels. Sainsbury’s, which claims to the «greenest grocer», said the measures would ensure the company remains at the forefront of sustainability over the coming decade.
«Given the scale of our business, we believe these 20 commitments represent the most ambitious sustainability targets in our industry,» Sainsbury’s chief executive, Justin King, said. «If we are to meet the sustainability challenges that lie ahead, it is important that companies such as Sainsbury’s invest in the future right now. We do not see this plan as a luxury, it is rather, an essential investment
that will ensure we can continue to provide customers with quality food at fair prices, sustainably.»
Sainsbury’s already spends £4 billion a year on British food produce and is the largest retailer of MSC certified fish and RSPCA Freedom Food certified products. The retailer’s pledge to source twice as much British food
by 2020 was welcomed by UK farmers’ union the NFU.»This additional demand will send a really positive signal to the industry at a time when farmers are facing massive investment pressures,» NFU president, Peter Kendall, said.
To meet its 2020 operational carbon reduction targets, Sainsbury’s said it would invest in more carbon-saving technologies
for new and existing stores. The supermarket, which has already pledged to cut its carbon emissions by 25 per cent on 2005 levels by 2012, has partnered with Imperial College London’s Faculty of Engineering and Grantham Institute for Climate Change, to research and test out innovative solutions, include finding ways to heat and recycle water to customers’ homes, ways to manage waste
streams for customers and taking Sainsbury’s stores off grid. The grocer is already testing out a number of new green technologies at its stores, including a ‘smart grid’ system at a new store in Hythe in Kent, and geothermal energy at an outlet in Crayford. It introduced CO2 refrigeration in 2009, which it said would help reduce the company’s carbon footprint by around a third.
In May, the company announced it was launching a new Carbon Academy, which would train up 20,000 people in environmental awareness and skills by 2020. Sainsbury’s 20 by 20 Sustainability Plan sets out how the supermarket will create 50,000 new jobs in the UK by 2020.
Prime Minister David Cameron welcomed Sainsbury’s sustainability plan. «It is a great example of the principles of ‘Every Business Commits’ – helping to create jobs and growth whilst also tackling our shared social and environmental challenges, investing in their workforce and in our communities, and building a bigger, stronger society.»
Sainsbury’s announced its sustainability plan in the same week as it launched a report with Unilever and Forum for the Future that suggests sustainable products and services will be mainstream by 2020.»Sustainability will continue to rise higher up the agenda over the coming years, so it is key that brands work to ensure they can respond to consumer demand. Being a sustainable company is not about box ticking, it’s about future-proofing your business and building trust and brand loyalty that will last for years to come,» said King.