Sainsbury’s to become Net Zero by 2040

Cold Chain Federation member Sainsburys are committing £1 billion over twenty years to achieve this .

Commitment will see Sainsbury’s business and operations become Net Zero in line with the goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C, the highest ambition of the Paris Agreement*

Focusing on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging, water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating.

Sainsbury’s will work collaboratively with suppliers and will ask suppliers for their own carbon reduction commitments 

Sainsbury’s has 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.

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.

“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 colleague behavioural change project
  • The retailer 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
  • The retailer 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
  • 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

For more information about Sainsbury’s commitment to Net Zero 2040 visit netzero.

*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. 


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