J Sainsbury commits to hitting net zero by 2040 – DirectorsTalk Interviews

J Sainsbury commits to hitting net zero by 2040  DirectorsTalk Interviews

J Sainsbury (LON:SBRY) today committed to investing £1 billion over twenty years towards becoming a Net Zero business across its own operations by 2040, aligned to the highest ambitions of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and a decade ahead of the UK Government’s own target.

The retailer’s current carbon footprint is one million tonnes, which is a 35% absolute reduction in the last 15 years despite its space increasing by 46% over the same time frame. For the last six years Sainsbury’s has been awarded an A rating for taking action on Climate Change by the CDP, the highest rating of any UK supermarket.

Sainsbury’s will use the £1 billion investment to implement a programme of changes, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating.

The investment will enable the business to fulfil Scope one and Scope two emissions, putting the business on course for Net Zero a decade ahead of the UK government’s deadlines.

The retailer will work with the Carbon Trust to assess emissions and set science-based targets for reduction, publicly reporting on progress every six months. The targets will align the business with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement.

Sainsbury’s will work with suppliers to set their own ambitious Net Zero commitments, in line with the Paris Agreement goals.

Sainsbury’s £1 billion investment will not impact net debt reduction targets. Sainsbury’s continues to expect net debt to reduce by at least £300 million in 2019/20 and £750 million over a three year period.

Mike Coupe, CEO of J Sainsbury, 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.

“We have a strong heritage of reducing our carbon emissions – we have reduced them by 35% over the past fifteen years despite the footprint of our business increasing by over 40%. We invested £260 million in over 3,000 initiatives over the last decade, including the start of our LED lighting programme and refrigeration. Over the next 20 years we will invest a further £1 billion 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. 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.”

COP26 President-Designate 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.”

Hugh Jones, MD Advisory Services of the Carbon Trust, said: “The Carbon Trust has worked with Sainsbury’s to set science-based targets for its own operations and is now working to extend these targets to the value chain. Sainsbury’s goal to get to Net Zero by 2040 is ambitious and will help raise the bar for the sector.”

Dexter Galvin, Global Director of Corporations and Supply Chains of the CDP said: “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. With this bold action, it’s not surprising Sainsbury’s has achieved a place on CDP’s 2019 Climate A List. 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.”

Across the Sainsbury’s business, programmes will be implemented that focus on seven core areas to tackle climate change:

Reduction in carbon emissions: Sainsbury’s will reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions within its own operations to Net Zero, increasing the use of renewable energy

·    1,400 Sainsbury’s stores have been fitted with aerofoil technology, keeping fridges cool and aisles warmer and saving 15% of the energy used by the fridge. 17,547 tonnes of CO2 were saved through a colleague behavioural change project

·    Sainsbury’s will increase its use of renewable energy, while reducing overall energy usage. Fridges will be made as efficient as possible through the use of innovative technology and increasing the use of natural refrigerants- as well as increasing the percentage of its fleet using alternative zero and low carbon fuels to 20% by 2025. 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

·    As the first retailer to be certified with the Carbon Trust Water Standard, Sainsbury’s uses 1 billion litres less water annually than in 2005. 170 stores are fitted with rainwater harvesting facilities and these are fitted as standard in new stores

·    Sainsbury’s will also review every aspect of water use in its business, measuring and lowering 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 and then go further- the first UK supermarket to make a commitment of this scale

·    Sainsbury’s removed thousands of tonnes of single use plastic across the business in 2019. From fresh food plastic trays (412 tonnes) to 290 million loose produce plastic bags and 20 million polystyrene pizza bases (180 tonnes). It also replaced 1,200 tonnes of own brand PVC packaging with recyclable alternatives

·    By the end of 2020, dark coloured, hard to recycle plastic and polystyrene packaging from own brand ranges will be replaced with recyclable alternatives. Where possible plastic film on fruit and vegetables will be replaced or removed. For Spring Summer 2020 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

·    Sainsbury’s provides facilities to help customers recycle metal cans, glass, plastic, paper and other materials in 275 stores nationwide as well as repurposing 5,000 tonnes of clothing annually through its donation banks in 340 stores and carparks

·    Sainsbury’s is piloting Deposit Return Schemes in five stores where customers recycle plastic bottles in exchange for a 5p per item coupon towards their shopping

·    Sainsbury’s will 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

·    Sainsbury’s has developed innovative packaging and clearer labelling to increase the shelf life of products and let customers know how long they can enjoy them for, meaning less food goes to waste

·    Sainsbury’s has sent no food to landfill since 2013. Sainsbury’s has 2,093 food donation programmes in place across supermarkets and convenience stores, ensuring that 87% of Sainsbury’s stores redistribute food to good causes locally

·    Sainsbury’s will increase the amount of food it redistributes that is fit for human consumption and will talk to customers more about how they can reduce food waste at home

Healthy, more sustainable diets: Sainsbury’s will develop and deliver healthy and sustainable diets for all

·    Sainsbury’s was the first retailer to introduce front of pack traffic light labelling in 2005 and in 2016 was the first supermarket to stop food multibuys

·    In 2015, Sainsbury’s introduced calorie labelling in cafes. It also offers the equivalent of two portions of vegetables in more than half of children’s menu options

·    In 2019, Sainsbury’s was the first UK supermarket to trial selling meat-alternative products in meat aisles, nudging customers to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle

·    In August 2019, Sainsbury’s ran a campaign with Disney which incentivised customers to buy healthier products including mini fruits by offering additional promotional cards in return. Sales of the promotional fruits increased by more than 250% over the three-week period. 80% of customers were new purchasers of those products and just under half of these stayed with the new products after the campaign

·    Sainsbury’s will drive sales of both healthy and healthier products, nudging customers towards the Eat Well Guide

Biodiversity: Sainsbury’s will ensure that the impact of its operations is net positive for biodiversity

·    Sainsbury’s has planted more than 3.8 million native trees over its fifteen-year partnership with The Woodland Trust and will work to plant 1.5 million native trees by 2025, which has the potential to mitigate 375,000 tonnes of CO2

·    In 2019, 82.5% of wild caught seafood and 100% of farmed seafood was sourced sustainably to an independent standard. Sainsbury’s is working towards 100% sustainably sourced seafood by the end of 2020

·    Sainsbury’s sustainably sources 98.7% of palm oil used in 1,700 own brand products. Sainsbury’s will continue to work on sustainable sourcing and, by 2025, will ensure that 100% of high-risk origin soy meal is zero forestation and certified as sustainable

*Paris agreement details

The Paris Agreement is an agreement made by nearly 200 parties within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, signed in 2015. One of the key focuses of the agreement is to keep global temperatures rise “well below” 2.0C (3.6F) of pre-industrial times and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5C

Global Standardized Frameworks

Scope 1 – All Direct Emissions from the activities of a business. Including fuel combustion on site such as gas boilers, fleet vehicles and air-conditioning leaks.

Scope 2 – Indirect Emissions from electricity purchased and used by the business.

Scope 3 – All Other Indirect Emissions from activities of the business, including those that they do not own or control. This covers emissions generated from purchased goods and services, travel and commuting, end of life treatment of sold products and use of sold products.

Sainsbury’s Net Zero 2040 – Focus Areas

·    Sainsbury’s announces pledge to be Net Zero by 2040 with £1 billion commitment, aligned to the highest ambitions of the Paris Agreement

·    By the end of 2022 all Sainsbury’s stores will be 100% lit by LED

·    Sainsbury’s will make its fridges as efficient as possible by increasing the use of natural gas refrigerants

·    Sainsbury’s will increase its use of electric vehicles and alternative fuels

·    Sainsbury’s will drive towards becoming a water neutral business by 2040

·    Sainsbury’s will halve plastic packaging by 2025 and then go further- the first UK supermarket to make a commitment of this scale.

·    As part of its continued work with the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s expect to plant more than 1.5million trees between now and 2025, with the potential to mitigate 375,000 tonnes of CO2

·    Sainsbury’s will halve food waste by 2030

·    Sainsbury’s will continue to expand its meat alternatives offering, with a quarter of all British people expected to be vegetarian by 2025.

Reduce Greenhouse Gas emissions within own operations to net zero, increasing the use of renewable energy

What Sainsbury’s has done:

·    Reduced its carbon emissions by 35% in the last 15 years despite growing by 46%

·    1,400 Sainsbury’s stores have been fitted with aerofoil technology, keeping fridges cool and aisles warmer and saving 15% of the energy used by the fridge

·    17,547 tonnes of CO2e saved through colleague behavioural change project ‘Greenest Grocer’

·    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 of its refrigeration, heating and cooling requirements. It also utilises waste heat from refrigeration, making it particularly energy efficient.

·    For the last six years retained an A rating for taking action on Climate Change, the highest CDP rating of any UK supermarket

What Sainsbury’s will do:

·    By the end of 2022 all Sainsbury’s Stores will be 100% lit by LED lights

·    Continue to invest in efficient technology, developing innovative solutions to reduce Carbon emissions and accelerating its engineering technical innovation in next generation technologies for use in new and existing stores

·    Increase its use of renewable energy

·    Make its fridges as efficient as possible by using innovative technology and increasing its use of natural refrigerants

·    Continue its work with colleagues on effective energy saving behaviour change programmes throughout the business

·    Use alternative Zero/Low Carbon fuel for the transport of colleagues and product

·    Design stores and formats with a low Carbon impact and use low Carbon materials

·    Work with the Carbon Trust to set science-based targets that align its business to the most ambitious aim of the Paris Agreement, to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C

·    Commit to 20% of its fleet using alternative fuel by 2025

Minimise the use of water in its own operations, driving towards water neutral by 2040

What Sainsbury’s has done:

·    Use 1 billion litres less water annually than it did in 2005/6

·    Reduced absolute water use by 30% in 6 years in its own operations

·    Saved 25m litres of water a year through its two water neutral stores

·    Fitted over 170 stores with rainwater harvesting facilities

·    Became the first retailer, and one of the first four companies ever, to be certified with The Carbon Trust Water Standard

·    In 2019, received an A- rating for its CDP water disclosure

·    Achieved its 2020 water reduction targets early, and continued to drive efficiency across the business, rolling out low-flow water taps in bathrooms

What Sainsbury’s will do:

·    Look to install rainwater harvesting facilities in new stores and work towards retrofitting rainwater harvesting tanks in existing stores

·    Roll out improved metering to enable detailed understanding of its water usage and to allow any underlying issues to be identified and resolved quickly​

·    Continue to explore how it recycles water in-stores, from fish counters to car washes

Increase the use of recycling in its own operations and make it easy for customers and our colleagues to recycle 

What Sainsbury’s has done:

·    Deposit Return Schemes are being piloted in 5 stores so customers can return recyclable packaging simply and easily

·    A ‘pre-cycle’ area was trialled in stores for customers to remove unwanted packaging and leave it for recycling

·    Donate 5,000 tonnes of clothing every year to Oxfam through its donation banks in over 340 stores           

·    All of the plastic in Tu Clothing hangers is made from 100% recycled material

·    Accept carrier bags and all film marked with the ‘recycle with bags at larger stores’ OPRL logo on the doorstep during an online delivery

·    Provide carrier bag and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) recycling in 400 supermarket stores

What Sainsbury’s will do:

·    Sainsbury’s has reused and recycled 320 tonnes of hangers in the last 12 months. In the next 12 months it will aim to increase that to 800 tonnes

·    Continue to expand and provide facilities to help customers recycle unwanted clothing, metal cans, glass, paper, batteries and other materials

·    Collaborate with others on research to develop new packaging and recycling technologies

Develop and deliver healthy sustainable diets for all

What Sainsbury’s has done:

·      Continue to reformulate its own-band products to improve their nutrient profile. Since 2015 they have:

o  Consistently reduced the number of red multi traffic lights on its products, year on year

o  More than 20% reduction in the tonnes of sugar used since 2015

o  More than 97% of its own brand products meet the PHE maximum targets for salt

o  More than 350 products delivering greater than or equal to 1 portion of veg

·      Launched a range of “Super mushrooms”, the first mushrooms on the market to be biofortified with vitamins D and B12, recognising potential nutrient deficiencies among vegans

·      Sold 4.6m portions of vegetables since the hugely successful launch of Little Ones, promoting healthier eating and encouraging children to develop a taste for vegetables at a young age

What Sainsbury’s will do:

·    Drive the sales of both healthy and healthier products with the aim of moving customers towards the Eat Well Guide

·    Encourage customers to increase their plant intakes from fruits, veg and whole grains and diversify the sources of proteins in their diet to include beans, legumes, nuts and other meat alternatives

·    Continued expansion of its nudging trials

·    Partner to develop science-based targets and build product data to establish sustainability metrics​

Ensure that the impact of its operations is net positive for biodiversity

What Sainsbury’s has done:

·    Sustainably sources 98.7 per cent of palm oil across more than 1700 Sainsbury’s brand products

·    82.5% of wild caught seafood and 100 per cent of farmed seafood sourced sustainably to an independent standard

·    Planted 3.8m native trees with the Woodland Trust over the last 15 years which has the potential to mitigate 900,000 tonnes of CO2

·    97% of timber in Sainsbury’s Home products is certified to international sustainability standards. (Forest Stewardship Council or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification)

·    Since 2006, Sainsbury’s has been working to help the bee population thrive through its ‘Bee Happy’ programme. Solitary bees need a safe space to build nests and lay eggs, so Sainsbury’s has put Bee Hotels into 107 of its stores across the country

·    Proudly work in partnership with its farmers, growers and suppliers to encourage environmental protection, wildlife conservation and Integrated Farmed Management through its ‘Sainsbury’s Farmed Environment Approach’

What Sainsbury’s will do:

·    Through its partnership with the Woodland Trust, Sainsbury’s expect to plant more than 1.5 million trees between now and 2025, with the potential to mitigate a further 375,000 tonnes of CO2

·    In 2019 Sainsbury’s launched its Transformational Roadmap for Sustainable Soy focusing on zero deforestation and conversion standards, and aiming to certify 100% of its high-risk origin soy meal by 2025.

Reduce its use of plastic packaging by 50% by 2025 and then go further

What Sainsbury’s has done:


·    In 2019, Sainsbury’s removed or replaced 3,800 tonnes of plastic

·    Removing plastic bags for loose produce and bakery counters saving 290 million bags and 489 tonnes of plastic annually and offering a reusable, recyclable alternative. Customers are also able to use their own bags or containers

·    Trialled removal of single use online delivery bags and started to remove the bags in October this year saving 477 tonnes of plastic annually. Sainsbury’s do use clear recyclable plastic bags for segregating some select items

·    Plastic has already been removed from organic bananas, easy peeler citrus fruit and certain lines of cauliflowers, brassicas and cabbage

·    Sainsbury’s were the first retailer to remove black plastic from chilled ready meals and replace with a natural CPET material, saving over 1,000 tonnes of hard to recycle plastic annually

·    Since April 2019 Tu clothing has removed over 500 tonnes of plastic transit shrouds

·    Microbeads were removed from Sainsbury’s own brand products in 2013


·    Replaced polystyrene pizza bases with recyclable board for 20 million pizzas a year, saving 180 tonnes of plastic annually

·    Replaced plastic with wooden cutlery in Food to Go, saving 38 tonnes and 12 million single use plastic items annually

·    Replaced 1200 tonnes annually of own brand PVC plastic packaging with recyclable alternatives

·    Replaced all of its plastic cotton bud stems with a biodegradable option in 2017


·    Fresh water stands are available for customers to refill their own water bottles in 326 supermarket cafes across the country

·    Customers are encouraged to bring their own containers to meat and deli counters

What Sainsbury’s will do:

Sainsbury’s is committed to reducing its use of primary plastic packaging by 50% by 2025 based on an approach of remove, reduce, replace, recycle and reuse. Replacing with alternatives to plastic will be evaluated on a lifecycle environmental impact basis and in line with industry guidelines and legislation.


·    SS20 Sainsbury’s Home Cookshop plastic transit packaging replaced by paper annual reduction: 50 tonnes; 5.5m polybags from mid-2020.

·    SS20 Sainsbury’s Home Filled Bedding packaging reduction Total saving 8.5 tonnes per annum from March 20

·    Sainsbury’s Home 18% reduction in plastic packaging saving 662 tonnes

·    In AW20 Sainsbury’s Home will remove plastic from large pack baubles-saving 10 tonnes

·    Collaboration with others on research to develop new packaging technologies


·    Replacing 4500 tonnes of own brand dark coloured plastic packaging (excluding cosmetics) with recyclable alternatives by end March 2020

·    Removing own brand polystyrene plastic packaging where feasible whilst replacing 700 tonnes with recyclable alternatives

·    Cut flowers wrap trial – Plastic to paper wrap trial ongoing across 167 stores

·    Replacing plastic trays for eggs with a fibre alternative saving 341 tonnes of plastic per year

Reduce Food Waste by 50% by 2030

What Sainsbury’s has done:

·    Food waste accounts for 23% of global greenhouse gas production, it is estimated a third of all food produced globally is wasted

·    Sainsbury’s has sent ZERO food waste to landfill since 2013

·    87% of Sainsbury’s stores already have a food donation partner helping it redistribute food to local causes

·    1188 Sainsbury’s Stores have food donation partnerships, for customers and colleagues to donate food to local causes

·    905 Sainsbury’s stores have back-of-store food donation partnerships helping redistribute food to local causes

·    Sainsbury’s has increased investment to revolutionise how its products are packaged. For example, the retailer introduced vacuum packaging across many of its meat and fish lines which boosts shelf life significantly, so products last 3-5 times as long. This dramatically cuts the amount of food wasted, boosts sustainability and reduces the annual food bills for our customers

·    Labelling is now clearer than ever and perishable food only includes ‘Best Before’ or ‘Use-by’ dates. Sainsbury’s has also worked with its colleagues and customers to clarify the difference between these two dates so customers understand exactly how they can store products and for how long they can be enjoyed

·    Sainsbury’s realised that there was also some confusion around freezing products, with many products stating that they had to be frozen on the day of purchase. This led to more food waste and more expensive weekly shops so labels were made clearer to indicate that products can be frozen at any point up until the ‘Use-by’ date

·    Where possible, Sainsbury’s packaging also contains advice on how products can be stored to boost shelf life. For example, recommending including a sheet of kitchen roll in salad packaging in the fridge or drying fresh herbs to prolong freshness

What Sainsbury’s will do:

·    Sainsbury’s will increase the amount of food it redistributes that is fit for human consumption and will talk to customers more about how they can reduce food waste at home

Join us on our new LinkedIn page

Follow us on LinkedIn

Source: directorstalkinterviews.com

Leave a Comment