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Sainsbury’s announces ambitious science based as part of journey to net zero

Sainsbury’s has announced plans to significantly reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions with approved science based targets in its operations and across the supply chain. As part of this, the retailer will work with a number of suppliers on developing and meeting their own Scope 1 and 2 targets, including through supplier engagement programmes with CDP and the Higg Index.

The Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) has approved Sainsbury’s science based target for Scopes 1, 2 and 3. For Scope 1 and 2, these, include the reduction of GHG emissions from Sainsbury’s own operations by 2040 in a bid to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The company worked with the Carbon Trust to define an ambitious Scope 3 target which requires the reduction of absolute GHG emissions by 30% by 2030, to align to a well below 2°C scenario. This includes reducing emissions from purchased goods and services sold, upstream transport and distribution and the direct use of sold products.

Sainsbury’s recognises that it cannot achieve these targets alone and will work collaboratively with its suppliers to deliver against their own Scope 1 and 2 targets to drive lasting change. By delivering against its Scope 3 targets by 2030, through innovation and collaboration, it will endeavor to help customers make more sustainable product choices, helping them live well now and into the future.

This builds on the retailer’s wider goals, announced in January 2020 to achieve net zero by 2040 in its own operations. As part of this, the supermarket also outlined key pillars of focus in addition to carbon reduction targets. These include, increasing healthy and sustainable diets, recycling, driving towards water neutral, reducing food waste and plastic packaging and working to be net positive for biodiversity.

Over the past year, a number of energy saving initiatives have been launched in Sainsbury’s own operations, including:

  • In 2020, the company installed its one millionth Aerofoil in its Battersea Park Local store, keeping fridges cool and aisles warmer and saving 15% of the energy used by the fridge.

  • In July, Sainsbury’s became the first UK supermarket to switch to lithium-ion pallet trucks. The retailer purchased 1200 initially which has the potential to save enough energy to power 700 average sized UK homes for 12 months.

  • Sainsbury’s Olney supermarket is the first store with a full Refrigeration Integrated Heating and Cooling system which uses the store’s refrigeration system to provide all its refrigeration, heating and cooling requirements. It also uses waste heat from refrigeration, making it particularly energy efficient

  • CDP has awarded Sainsbury’s with an ‘A’ rating, the highest of any UK supermarket, for the past seven years.

The strategies outlined to reduce Scope 1 and 2 emissions will see Sainsbury’s implement new initiatives within the refrigeration and lighting space such as LED technology, along with improving overall efficiency. The retailer’s Scope 3 efforts will focus on working with its suppliers to set their own carbon reduction targets and identify opportunities across product lifecycles.

Simon Roberts, CEO of Sainsbury’s, said: ‘We have a responsibility to our colleagues and the communities we serve to reduce the impact our business has on the environment and have been working hard to reduce our carbon emissions over the last 16 years. Setting bold science based targets across our Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions strengthens our long standing commitment to protecting the environment and tackling climate change. We are making significant progress on our road to net zero however we can’t get there on our own, to make a meaningful difference to climate change we need to collaborate with industry, work closely with our suppliers and engage our colleagues and customers.

‘As part of our strategy, we are improving the overall energy efficiency of our existing stores and depots, investing in innovative technology to ensure our fridges are as efficient as possible, reducing refrigerant gas and continuing to look at zero carbon alternatives for the delivery of goods. We will also ensure that our new store designs are in line with the latest thinking to minimise energy consumption. We have one opportunity to get this right, so it is really important that we continue to be ambitious and innovate.’

Hugh Jones, managing director at the Carbon Trust Advisory, added: ‘This is a critical year in the fight on climate change, with the UK also hosting the COP26 Climate Change Conference in November. It is vital that the business sector steps up to this challenge and it is great to see Sainsbury’s aligning to this now by engaging its supply chain and extending its net zero targets to cover the products it sells.’

‘We congratulate Sainsbury’s for setting science based targets consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C, the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement,’ said Alberto Carrillo Pineda, director, Science Based Targets at CDP, one of the Science Based Targets initiative partners. ‘By aligning its goals with a 1.5°C future, and asking its partners to do the same, Sainsbury’s is ensuring it builds resilience firmly into its business model and will be positioned to thrive as the global economy transitions to a zero emissions future.’


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