Sainsbury launches competition to cut energy use

By Laurence Gibbons

- Last updated on GMT

Sainsbury is seeking help to cut its energy use
Sainsbury is seeking help to cut its energy use

Related tags Retailing Sustainability Climate change Sainsbury

Sainsbury is calling on energy firms to help it tap into solar energy on all its properties as part of its plan to become the UK’s greenest grocer.

The Institute for Sustainability, in partnership with the retailer and the Climate Knowledge and Innovation Community, has launched a competition to find photovoltaic solutions to help Sainsbury reduce the environmental impact of its buildings.

Photovoltaics is a method of generating electric power by converting solar radiation into direct current electricity.

Shortlisted ideas will be selected for pitching to Sainsbury. For more information about entering the competition, click here.

Sustainability commitment

Sainsbury’s 20 by 20 sustainability plan is a commitment to reach 20 ambitious goals for 2020 to help consumers make more nutritious, sustainable and ethical purchasing decisions.

These include, securing zero waste to landfill, only stocking 100% fresh British pork and reducing salt, saturated fats and sugar in its own-label products.

The retailer also planned to cut operational emissions by 30%, double the amount of British food sold, provide clear nutritional information and make a number of commitments to benefit local communities and its workforce.

Earlier this week, the UK retail industry – including grocery retailers Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Waitrose, The Co-Operative and Marks & Spencer – signed up to a range of targets for reducing its impact on the environment, after matching those previously set.

High street baker Greggs and McDonald’s are also signed up to the commitments.

The commitments, announced at the ‘A Better Retailing Climate’ launch event at the House of Commons yesterday (January 29), included a collective pledge to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 25% by 2020.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said this would put the industry well on course to meet its 80% overall target set by the UK Climate Change Bill.

‘Significant progress’

BRC director general Helen Dickinson said: “Retailers in the UK have made significant progress in reducing their impact on the environment. I’m delighted that the signatories are pushing themselves to achieve against even more ambitious commitments, having gone above and beyond the last set of targets.”

The strength of the commitment was reflected by the progress that had been made in the last decade, Dickinson claimed.

“For example, only 6% of waste was sent to landfill in 2013, down from 47% in 2005,”​ she added. “But retailers will continue to keep this momentum going. They recognise that it makes business sense and delivers real environmental benefits as well as value for their customers.”

Environment secretary Owen Paterson said: “This initiative has been very successful in showing how industry can reduce the environmental impact of the retail sector.  

“It also highlights how it is possible to grow businesses in a sustainable way that is not only good for the environment but for the economy as well.”

Reducing emissions

Other new targets announced included a commitment to reducing emissions from refrigeration gases by 80% by 2020, and to divert less than 1% of waste to landfill by the same year.

Trade body the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has committed to an industry-wide target to reduce overall greenhouse emissions by 35% by 2020.

The latest FDF figures show its food and drink manufacturing members slashed such emissions from their production operations by 32% in 2012, compared with 1990 figures.

This built on a 27% cut in 2011.

The FDF aims for its members to send zero food and packaging waste to landfill by 2015 and reduce water usage by 20% by 2020, compared with 2007 data.

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