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Sainsbury’s to spend £1bn on 2040 net zero ambition

Sainsbury’s has ring-fenced £1 billion over the next 20 years to become a net zero business by 2040.

Sainsbury’s will use this money to introduce a number of programmes focussed on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging, water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating.

As part of its plans, the grocer will work with suppliers and ask for their own carbon reduction commitments.

Currently, Sainsbury’s carbon footprint stands at one million tonnes – a 35% reduction compared to 15 years ago, despite increasing its physical footprint by 46%.

 “Our commitment has always been to help customers live well for less, but we must recognise that living well now also means living sustainably,” said Sainsbury’s CEO, Mike Coupe.

“We have a duty to the communities we serve to continue to reduce the impact our business has on the environment and we are committing to reduce our own carbon emissions and become Net Zero by 2040, ten years ahead of the government’s own targets, because 2050 isn’t soon enough.

“Only when the trajectory for global warming slows to a maximum of 1.5 degrees will we all know that we can truly live well for less now and in the future.”

Dexter Galvin, global director of corporations and supply chains of the CDP – which has awarded the grocer an A rating for taking action on climate change for the last six years – added: “This is a critical year in the race to tackle climate change, and it’s vital that companies step up, as customers are increasingly demanding. We welcome Sainsbury’s ambition to bring its operational emissions down to Net Zero by 2040, a decade ahead of the UK’s climate target. The retailer has further committed to set a science-based target verified by the Science Based Targets initiative and will work with their suppliers to set their own targets aligned with the Paris Agreement.

“These commitments also send a clear message to politicians that businesses want more ambitious action to protect our natural world and people’s quality of life as we head towards the COP26 climate summit.”


Core areas of sustainability focus:

  • Reduction in carbon emissions: Sainsbury’s will reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions within its own operations to Net Zero, increasing the use of renewable energy. Fridges will be made as efficient as possible through new technology and increasing the use of natural refrigerants. One fifth of its transportation fleet will begin using alternative zero and low carbon fuels by 2025. And by the end of 2022 all Sainsbury’s stores will be 100% lit by LED
  • Lowering water usage: Sainsbury’s will minimise the use of water in its own operations, driving towards water neutral by 2040. It will look to lower the amount of water used in bathrooms and will look to recycle water from areas such as ice on fish counters and carwashes.
  • Use of plastic: Sainsbury’s will halve plastic packaging by 2025. By the end of this year dark coloured, hard to recycle plastic and polystyrene packaging from own brand ranges will be replaced with recyclable alternatives and, where possible, plastic film on fruit and vegetables will be replaced or removed. Later this year, Sainsbury’s Home Cookshop transit packaging will be removed and replaced by paper, removing 662 tonnes of plastic
  • Recycling: Sainsbury’s will increase the use of recycling in its own operations and make it easier for customers and colleagues to recycle. It is piloting a deposit return scheme in five years and plans to recycle more operational waste and continue to expand and provide facilities to help customers recycle unwanted clothing, metal cans, glass, paper, batteries and other materials.
  • Tackling food waste: Sainsbury’s is committed to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030 by increasing food redistribution and informing customers how to reduce food waste at home.
  • Healthy, more sustainable diets: Sainsbury’s will develop and deliver healthy and sustainable diets for all.
  • Biodiversity: Sainsbury’s will ensure that the impact of its operations is net positive for biodiversity by planting 1.5 million trees by 2025 and working towards 100% sustainably sourced seafood by the end of this year.

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