Asda's Sustainability Manager, Laura Babbs, writes about our work to ensure nature thrives...
Here at Asda, we work with businesses across the globe to provide our customers with the products they love, so they can save money and live better.
Helping our customers to live better also means helping the planet too, and together with our suppliers we have really clear aims - to reduce our impact on the environment around us and to help protect our natural world.
Over the years we’ve been working hard with our suppliers, on initiatives big and small. For instance, we’ve done things from ensuring all of our bananas are Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade certified– meaning that our growers work to higher social and environmental standards and take action on reducing water consumption and tightly controlling their use of pesticides– to planting cotton underpants on a farm in Italy to understand how we can improve soils!
With a supply chain that spans continents and thousands of businesses, partnership is always important to us.
For example, we know that water plays a vital role in nature but can also cause a bit of trouble. So we partnered with Norfolk Rivers Trust to plant reed beds in East Anglia. These grasslands capture the nutrient-rich run-off from the farm and allow the sediment to settle, rather than flowing into the watercourse. This is hugely important because excessive nutrients can affect local ecosystems, threatening vegetation and – in this case – the resident Narrow-mouthed Whorl Snail: a rare and internationally endangered snail.
While these things might seem small, nature is all connected and even small changes to the balance can have a big impact – both positive and negative.
That’s why I’m really pleased to be setting out Asda’s new plans to do our bit to protect, restore and enhance nature in our supply chains, both here in the UK and across the world.
Protecting our natural world is the starting point of our operations. This means looking at all areas where we have an impact. For instance, we know that protecting our oceans is important, but what about the birds that use the ocean as a source of food? Working with our supplier New England Seafood International the vessels that supply Asda products have changed the hooks they use to a design which avoids accidentally catching Albatross.
To make sure that we’re minimising the impact our supply chain has on the environment, we’re going to ensure that:
All of our growers will have water management/stewardship plans by 2022
We publish a list of plant protection materials we use (pesticides) and look at how we can minimise the less desirable ones
We continue to reduce unnecessary plastic packaging, building on the 6,500 tonnes removed in 2018/19
All of the timber paper, pulp, in our products is sustainably certified by the end of 2020.
All of the cocoa in our products, from the chocolate bars to the chocolate chips, will be sustainably sourced by the end of 2020.
We continue to ensure all of our palm oil is RSPO certified – as it has been since 2014 – and that 80% is from segregated sources by the end of 2020.
All of the soya in the animal feed we use will be covered by sustainability certificates by 2020 and physical sources by 2025.
All of the fish we sell is registered on the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership website, and it will all be either Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified or in a Fisheries Improvement Project working towards MSC by 2020.
Restore and enhance
It’s vitally important that we not only reduce our impact now, but also help nature to recover. This can take many forms; for instance we have previously worked with the Biodiversity Partnership in Cosa Rica to restore the Nogal-La Selva Biological Corridor. As well as reforesting large areas of the region, they also created rope bridges across busy roads, allowing animals to move safely from one side to the other.
To restore and enhance nature further we plan that:
All of our potato growers will plant biodiversity plots on the land where they drive their tractors, and we will extend that to root veg by 2025. We’ve been trailing this with a few of our potato growers over the last few years and have identified some rare insects flourishing as a result, including the Squat Furrow Bee, Lobe Spurred Furrow Bee and Spider Hunting Wasps.
All of the vessels that supply white fish to Asda will be collecting plastic as they fish by 2020.
By 2025 500 farmers will be engaged in our Pathfinder group, sharing best practice on how to increase biodiversity on their farms.
We will plant 5,000 trees as part of our zero net deforestation commitment.
We know that we cannot start to tackle big issues like this on our own, but only by working in partnership with our farmers, growers and all the other parts of our supply chain. In setting out these plans, we hope to do our bit towards ensuring a healthy, vibrant and diverse natural world for us all to enjoy.