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How we are working with our suppliers to help protect the environment

Asda VP of Own Brand and Commercial strategy, Paul Gillow, writes about what we, as well as our partners and suppliers are doing to reduce the impact we have on the environment and how our new goals and initiatives will help make a real difference…

By Paul Gillow

February 24, 2021 02:45pm
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I’m really proud that we brought together over 1300 people from over 540 suppliers for what was our biggest sustainability conference so far.

Suppliers from across the world joined us – albeit via Zoom this year – and I’m extremely thankful for their continued desire to help us make a real difference. We have said many times before, we cannot do this alone and partnership-working and having those honest conversations are so important if we all are going to achieve our goals.

It has obviously been an extremely challenging year for everyone and I am extremely proud of what we have achieved; donating our food surplus from our stores, preventing the equivalent of 3 million meals from going to waste, hitting the milestone of removing over 9,000 tonnes of plastic since 2018 and of course our flagship Middleton store.

We are partnering with some of the UK’s most popular household brands including PG Tips, Vimto, Kellogg’s, Radox and Persil at the Leeds store to help shoppers reduce, reuse and recycle with ease and we believe the numerous initiatives being trialled in Middleton will save one million pieces of plastic per year.

When we launched Middleton we also announced our ‘Greener at Asda price’ promise, a national price promise that loose and unwrapped products will not cost more than wrapped equivalents.

This was all part of our new strategy for plastics and sustainability, where we made some really strong commitments around plastic; removing 3bn pieces of plastic from own-brand products by 2025 and invest in 25 closed loop and circular projects by 2025, working closely with waste management companies, recyclers and product developers.

Within the strategy we also announced that we are committed to generate zero carbon emissions by 2040. I know that reducing our emissions is something our customers really care about so I want to talk about what we have done, what we are doing and how at the conference we asked for our suppliers to help us.

Carbon emissions are split into three scopes; 1,2 and 3, with the first two scopes covering our direct emissions and scope 3 covering our indirect emissions. That includes suppliers and other companies who are in our supply chain and help get food and other goods onto our shelves.

We have made a firm commitment to reduce our scope one and two emissions by 50% by 2025 and we are really pleased with our progress so far, reducing our carbon footprint by 31% since 2015, with 10% of that coming 2019 vs 2018.

In store, we have already reduced our energy usage by 20% using the same amount of as we did in 2005, despite our estate being 200% bigger and we have plans to purchase more renewable energy. While on the road we have invested in our distribution fleet having over 200 tractor units running on natural biogas. This is vital as we have found through trials that running lorries on biomethane reduced CO2 emissions by more than 80%.

But we know that the majority of our emissions are in our supply chain, which is why we launched a new scope 3 carbon footprint target at the conference, asking our stop 150 suppliers to join us and set a Scope 1 & 2 carbon reduction target by the end of 2022.

This is a vital step and having had conversations with suppliers, we know it is of equal importance to them, so I am excited by what we can achieve together not just in carbon but in all parts of our business, making greener changes which are right for our customers.

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