An update on our Plan for Better
The environmental and social challenges that are facing the world have never been greater. The food we eat, and how that food is produced, sourced, packaged and disposed of has major consequences. By helping everyone eat better we are committing to play a leading role in offering delicious, affordable food that supports healthy and sustainable diets and helps customers reduce their impact on the planet, one plate at a time.
In June we launched our Plan for Better, our new sustainability plan covering our environmental and social commitments, which is integrated into our business strategy. Our Plan for Better sets out our sustainability goals across our whole business, outlining our priority areas of focus, our key commitments, and our progress.
Our Priority Pillars
We recently announced our commitment to tackle the climate crisis by accelerating our target to become Net Zero in our own operations by 2035, five years earlier than our original ambition and aligned to UN’s goal to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. We have committed to report on our sustainability progress twice a year to maintain clear communication with our stakeholders.
We recently published our half year report for 2021/2022 on our progress for Plan for Better, and you can read the updates below on some of our priority pillars. To read the full report please click here.
Reducing Carbon emissions
As part of Plan for Better, we strengthened our commitment to reducing absolute greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from our own operations to Net Zero by no later than 2035. We are making significant progress, having reduced our absolute greenhouse gas emissions from our own operations by 14 per cent over the past two years.
We continue to roll out our LED lighting across our supermarket estate, and will reach 100 per cent by the end of the year, reducing lighting energy consumption by 70 per cent. By the end of the year we are also transitioning to 100 per cent renewable electricity across the entire estate, and have committed to the long term purchasing of renewable energy from new wind farms and solar projects to be built over the next two years, significantly reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. This year we were also the first UK retailer to introduce fully electric refrigerated trailers to our delivery fleet, offering a more sustainable solution for the transport of groceries. The innovative new technology adds charge back into the battery by converting kinetic energy into electricity, keeping the onboard fridges cool and reducing energy consumption and the overall environmental impact of the vehicle.
We are also reducing Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent by 2030, with a long-term commitment to be Net Zero by 2050. This will only be achieved through working with you – our suppliers. We are really pleased to share that 181 suppliers disclosed their key carbon data via CDP this year at our invitation, 111 of which disclosed publicly – thank you to everyone that participated this year! CDP scores are now live, take a look at The A List 2021 to see the companies who are leading the way to a net-zero, nature positive, and equitable future.
The suppliers we requested to disclose in 2021 were identified as being some of our top priority suppliers for Scope 3 emissions, but next year we’d like to give all suppliers the opportunity to share their carbon data with us. If you would like us to nominate you for CDP submission in 2022, please enter your details into this form. As we progress with our work on carbon, we are asking all suppliers to have a carbon reduction plan in place, and request that SBTi targets for scopes 1, 2, and 3 are established.
Reducing Food Waste
We have seen a 157 per cent increase year-on-year in the amount of food redistributed for human consumption. This is mostly driven by our food donation partnerships and this year we have proudly partnered with Neighbourly to manage our back of store food donation programme, helping to connect our stores with local partners who will redistribute food to those in need.
Where we can’t donate surplus food to charity, we send surplus food to UK farms, via our partners, to form an ingredient in animal feed. We’ve been sending surplus bread for use in animal feed since 2013 and this year we trialled diverting unsold fruit, vegetables and salad as well.
Reduce use of plastic packaging and increasing recycling
We have seen an absolute reduction in plastic packaging of 1.1 per cent year-on-year and relative reduction (per million units sold) of 2.1 per cent year-on-year.
This year we rolled out a flexible plastic recycling scheme to facilitate recycling plastic packaging which is not commonly accepted for kerbside collection. The front of store recycling points offer customers the opportunity to bring back any flexible plastic packaging such as salad bags, crisp packets and food pouches, as part of the Flexible Plastic Fund initiative rolled out across all our supermarkets.
We have removed own-brand plastic straws from our own-brand range of lunchbox juice cartons. This is facilitating the removal of 18.5 million plastic straws from circulation each year, equating to 6.6 tonnes of plastic reduction.
Develop and deliver healthy and sustainable diets for all
As part of our Plan for Better we aim to develop and deliver healthy and sustainable diets for all. Last year our ‘healthy’ and ‘better for you’ sales tonnage was 80 per cent of our total sales tonnage. This was supported by our customers during ‘The Great Big Fruit and Veg Challenge’, which incentivised shoppers to increase the amount of fruit and vegetables they eat to earn bonus Nectar points for buying fruit and vegetables at Sainsbury’s. Customers could also redeem Sainsbury’s Healthy Start vouchers, which are provided by the Government to low-income pregnant women and families with children under the age of four. The vouchers consisted of a £2 fruit and vegetable coupon, which is more than any other retailer, helping families in need have access to nutritious produce through the half-term and summer holidays. In the 6 months the programme ran this year, we supported over 17,000 customers to take home an additional 1.2 million portions of fruit and vegetables.
Collaborating to tackle climate change
Tackling climate change requires transformational thinking across industry and government and a willingness to collaborate locally and globally. We have committed to work with a range of charities and brands on a variety of initiatives.
We have collaborated with PwC UK on a report focusing on water: Uncharted Waters: Preserving our most vital resource.
By engaging with over 80 diverse stakeholders, including academics, utility companies, NGOs, and representatives from UK government organisations, we have provided a synopsis on the water crisis we collectively face, and have proposed a series of recommendations to help address these fundamental challenges. We have worked with PwC UK to develop this report and have been humbled by the time and energies contributed by a wealth of subject matter experts from many stakeholder groups. Together they have highlighted key cross-sector water issues, helped us understand challenges and areas of best practice, and suggested tangible ways forward.
We are collaborating with Anya Hindmarch to create a new generation of shopping bag. After the success of the ‘I am not a plastic bag campaign’ 14 years ago, we are working with Anya to produce a Sainsbury’s edition ‘Universal Bag’ which launched on the 2nd December across 334 stores and will change customer behaviours by encouraging a greater reuse mindset. The bag is made from 100% recycled plastic and has been fully certified under the Global Recycling Scheme, making this a truly 100% recycled product. The bag will also be guaranteed to last 10 years, being practical and durable. For more information on the Universal Bag please click here.
We have also built on our fantastic partnership with Woodland Trust now working with Nectar to let customers donate their Nectar points to help protect the planet. Since November, customers can donate their points to the Woodland Trust to plant a native tree and support the maintenance and protection of existing trees and woods cared for by the Woodland Trust. Every 5,000 points donated goes towards the maintenance and protection of the existing trees and woods cared for by the Woodland Trust, locking up around 1 tonne of carbon, a significant step in helping to protect nature. For more information on our partnership with the Woodland Trust please click here.
We are working with Tesco, M&S, Coop, Waitrose and WWF to form a taskforce working together to tackle the climate crisis and protect nature, called the WWF retailer commitment for nature. By coming together, we aim to agree a common approach to tackling scope 3 emissions and other climate and nature related challenges as a sector, with the ultimate aim of halving the environmental impact of UK baskets by 2030.
We are also working with Prevented Ocean Plastic to turn plastic collected from the coast into packaging for our strawberry and fresh fish range removing 297 tonnes of plastic from entering the ocean each year. For more information please click here.
WRAP Water Roadmap
On the 24th November, WRAP launched a new roadmap towards Water Security for Food & Drink - building on the learnings from the Courtauld Commitment Water Ambition, which you can find out more about here. We expect this to become an increasingly important topic over the coming years as it has been identified as one of the most material climate-related risks relevant to the food industry. This new roadmap is a practical response to this growing problem. In particular, it sets out what actions your business could most meaningfully take, and is setting up a network of collective action/stewardship projects to make it easier to work together to tackle the most relevant issues at a local level.
If you would like to become a supporter of this important initiative or find out more about it, please get in touch with Rowen West-Henzell.
For more on Sainsbury’s approach to water click here.
We are passionate about our Plan for Better and will continue to communicate our sustainability progress with you. We will be in contact over the next few weeks to get your feedback on our engagement, and how we can improve.