Asda Sustainability Manager, Laura Babbs, explains what we're doing to tackle climate change as a retailer...
As a responsible retailer, we understand the importance of doing everything we can to help in the fight against climate change and plastic pollution. We know we don’t have all the answers and that we can have a much more far reaching impact when we work collaboratively with our partners and suppliers, so together we can help tackle these important issues faster and more efficiently.
Lighting, heating and cooling our stores is one of our biggest operational challenges and our teams are always working hard to reduce the impact they have on the environment - already cutting our energy usage in store by over 20%. From remotely monitoring lighting to installing LEDs and changing our refrigerant systems, we’ve made some big savings. This means that despite our estate being 200% bigger than it was in 2005, we use around the same amount of electricity.
But, we aren’t stopping there and we know we need to reduce our impacts further. That’s why we’ve committed to reduce our scope 1 & 2 emissions by 50% by 2025 from the 2015 baseline. This keeps our emissions well below the 1.5°C target.
One of the greatest opportunities to find efficiencies lies in the supply chain, so we will be working closely with our suppliers to reduce our carbon footprint. We recently held our biggest ever Sustainability Conference, which brought together over 900 suppliers and Asda colleagues to share ideas and solutions to tackling climate change and food waste.
As part of the Walmart family, we are committed to meeting their target to remove 1 billion tonnes of emissions globally as part of Project Gigaton, and we’re pleased to say that 179 Asda suppliers have already signed up to this commitment, saving a significant 29 Million Metric Tonnes of emissions.
Beyond the work we’re doing to cut down on emissions, we’re working closely with our suppliers, farmers and growers to protect, restore and enhance nature. From deforestation to soils and water, we want to ensure any footprint we leave is as light as possible. We have been developing new trials over a number of years and are beginning to see some positive results. For example, we have been working with our potato growers over the last few years where we’ve planted biodiversity plots on the land where they drive tractors, which has resulted in the identification of some rare insects inhabiting these areas. We are extending this project to all root vegetables by 2025. Meanwhile, in the world of agriculture we’ve been working with our dairy farmers for over a decade to reduce the carbon footprint of dairy by improving efficiency.
As a member of WRAP, the not-for-profit food waste charity, we play an active part in reducing food waste. As signatories of the Courtauld Commitment 2025 we’ve made the pledge to reduce our food waste by 20% by 2025 and on the UK food waste reduction roadmap, we’ve further committed to halving food waste by 50% by 2030.
We know this collaborative approach to tackle climate change really works and we’re making great progress in our stores too through our partnership with FareShare. This has enabled us to donate millions of meals to thousands of charities and community groups across the country, so they can access fresh, quality surplus food which otherwise might have gone to waste.
Tackling climate change is all part of our wider sustainability commitments, of which action on CO2 and food waste is vitally important, but we also want to make sure we are tackling the problem of plastic. Together with our suppliers, we are making great strides in our journey to find the answers and are constantly looking at new innovations in plastic pollution solutions, with some really exciting initiatives coming for 2020.
We’ve already removed 8,000 tonnes of plastic from across the business including from our Easter eggs, steak packaging, baby wipes, bedding and many more items, as well as recently launching our Middleton store concept, which will be our testing ground for everything from refillable solutions for cereals, tea and coffee, to un-wrapped flowers and hanger-less clothes. We are also going to be trialling more loose fresh produce, like mushrooms and cucumbers, which our customers are really passionate about.
Although we know there’s still more we can do, we are confident that we are taking the right steps towards becoming a more sustainable business and playing our part in creating a better planet.