We brought together 900 Asda colleagues and suppliers in Leeds for our biggest ever sustainability conference to look at what we’re doing to reduce our impact on the environment and help protect the natural world.
Many people joined us in person, with suppliers from as far away as China, Bangladesh and India following the conference online. Our delegates covered a broad spectrum of products, everything from milk and ready meals to bedding. Their presence and commitment is a strong sign of how important it is to us and our suppliers to continue delivering our sustainability commitments.
I believe that working closely with our suppliers is crucial. We need to have open and honest conversations, and we have clear requests for our suppliers to help us collectively do our bit.
Together we’ve made great progress throughout the last two years, delivering a significant reduction in plastic waste thanks to brilliant initiatives like moving all our ready meals to recyclable trays, reaching our zero waste to landfill target and donating over four million meals from surplus food to charity.
We’d like to say a special thanks to all the suppliers who helped us work on the best before plus four project helping more surplus food go to those in need.
Sourcing has also become increasingly important to our customers with looking after nature their second priority area for us to work on. At Christmas all of our own brand confectionary was sustainably sourced and by the end of 2020 all cocoa in Asda brand products will be too.
We’ve also made great strides in transparency, becoming the first retailer to publish pesticide data and farmed seafood data so customers can understand more about the food they're eating.
Doing even more to reduce plastic waste and doing our bit to help tackle climate change are two key priorities for us this year and we know they’re really important issues for our customers.
That’s why we’ve announced we’re opening our first sustainability store at Middleton in Leeds, where we’ll be trialling a range of innovative solutions over a 12-month period to help customers use less plastic in their everyday lives. Initiatives include new refill zones, more “naked” plastic-free produce, a recycling zone with additional customer recycling solutions and hanger-less George displays and coat hanger recycling.
But this isn’t just about this one store – we want to work with our suppliers to continue to reduce plastic wherever possible and increase recycled content.
We're also going to do more to let customers know what we’re doing, so look out for messages like these appearing in our stores:
Many of our suppliers are making great strides, so we’ll look to share their achievements with our customers too. There are some great success stories out there. Border Biscuits, for instance, have redesigned their packaging to remove 90% of the plastic and reduce the weight of their packaging by 50% – leading to a significant reduction in their carbon footprint, and hygiene and health supplier Essity are investing in alternative fibre, using wheat straw for their tissue products.
There’s a lot happening this year and we’re already working with our suppliers on longer-term initiatives. Both today and tomorrow we’re looking for opportunities to do things differently, disrupt the norm and make the right change for our customers.