Sainsbury’s pledges to become carbon neutral by 2040

Sainsbury’s has announced it will commit £1bn towards becoming carbon neutral by 2040.

The supermarket giant will use the £1bn investment to “implement a programme of changes”, including reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water usage, and aim to increase recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating.

The group will work alongside the Carbon Trust to assess emissions and set science-based targets for reduction, while progress will be publicly reported every six months. 

The new targets align the business with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the “highest ambition” of the Paris Agreement.

Sainsbury’s carbon footprint is currently one million tonnes, which marks a 35% reduction in the last 15 years despite its space increasing by 46% in the same period.

For the last six years, the supermarket giant has been awarded an A rating by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), a charity that helps corporations manage their environmental impact. This is the highest rating of any UK supermarket.

The investment will “not impact” net debt reduction targets, and the group expects to reduce net debt by at least £300m in 2019/20 and £750m over a three year period.

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

“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.”

He added: “Over the next 20 years we will invest a further £1bn in programmes that will transform the way we do business and put environmental impact at the forefront of every decision we make.

“We recognise that we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make the changes needed to help the planet exist sustainably. We have over 27 million customers each week and almost 180,000 colleagues and we hope that we can collaborate across industries and sectors to help create momentum and drive meaningful change.”

President-designate of the UN climate change conference, Claire O’Neill, said: “It’s fantastic to see Sainsbury’s committing to hitting net zero by 2040. It’s vital that big organisations recognise the responsibility they have in curbing emissions.

“Today’s announcement is an outstanding example that being green shouldn’t be a barrier to success. I hope to see other major supermarkets following their lead ahead of the COP26 UN climate conference later this year in Glasgow.”

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