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Sainsbury's pledges one billion pounds to become carbon neutral by 2040

By Huw Hughes

28 Jan 2020

Retail

British supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has announced it will be investing one billion pounds to help it meet a number of new sustainability targets which include becoming a net zero business across its own operations by 2040.

The retailer said it would use the money to implement a number of changes focusing on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water usage while increasing recycling, biodiversity and encouraging healthy and sustainable eating.

Among a number of new initiatives to reach the announced targets, Sainsbury’s also said it would be repurposing 5,000 tonnes of clothing annually through its donation banks across in 340 stores and carparks.

“The retailer will recycle more operational waste and continue to expand and provide facilities to help customers recycle unwanted clothing, metal cans, glass, paper, batteries and other materials,” Sainsbury’s said.

It will be working with the Carbon Trust to assess emissions and set science-based targets for reduction and will be publicly reporting on progress every six months. Sainsbury’s will also work with its suppliers to set their own Net Zero commitments, in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

Mike Coupe, CEO of Sainsbury’s, said: “Our commitment has always been to help customers live well for less, but we must recognise that living well now also means living sustainably. We have a duty to the communities we serve to continue to reduce the impact our business has on the environment and we are committing to reduce our own carbon emissions and become Net Zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the government’s own targets, because 2050 isn’t soon enough.”

Coupe also highlighted the effort the retailer has already made in recent years. Its current carbon footprint is one million tonnes, a 35 percent absolute reduction in the past 15 years despite its space increasing by 46 percent. It has also invested 260 million pounds in more than 3,000 initiatives in the last decade, including the start of its LED lighting programme and refrigeration.

Coupe said: “We recognise that we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the changes needed to help the planet exist sustainably. We have over 27 million customers each week and almost 180,000 colleagues and we hope that we can collaborate across industries and sectors to help create momentum and drive meaningful change. Only when the trajectory for global warming slows to a maximum of 1.5 degrees will we all know that we can truly live well for less now and in the future.”

Photo credit: Tu Clothing, Facebook