U.K. Retailers Tesco, Marks & Spencer Report Progress in Reducing Carbon Emissions

U.K. Retailers Tesco, Marks & Spencer Report Progress in Reducing Carbon Emissions

Tesco, the largest retailer in the United Kingdom, has been awarded the Carbon Trust Standard for its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, and Marks & Spencer’s latest sustainability report says the chain cut its carbon emissions by 18 percent.

Tesco announced its certification under the Carbon Trust Standard and highlighted some of its latest eco-friendly achievements on Friday as Marks & Spencer released its 2009 How We Do Business sustainability report.

Tesco, which was recently rated the 15th greenest company in the U.K. and the greenest supermarket by the Sunday Times, says it has achieved a 0.7 percent reduction in its absolute carbon footprint, which is equivalent to an intensity reduction of 12.5 percent in greenhouse gas emissions per unit net sales area and 15.1 percent in emissions per unit turnover.

The measurements are based on a comparison of 2008/2009 emissions with an average of emissions in 2006/2007 and 2007/2008, according to the retail chain. It noted that the reductions were made despite Tesco’s acquisition of Dobbies Garden Centres, a string of 24 stores in England and Scotland, during the measurement period.

The company has set three targets for reducing CO2 emissions across its business operations. Each involves cutting emissions by 50 percent compared against a 2006 baseline in:
— Existing buildings (those constructed before 2006) by 2020
— Distribution of each case of goods delivered by 2012
— New stores (compared to comparably sized stores built in 2006) by 2020

Tesco also plans to build a zero-carbon store, which the company says will be the world’s first, in Ramsey, Cambridge, later in 2009. The store will have a combined heat and power (CHP) plant that will generate enough energy for the store and sell surplus to the country’s National Grid.

The chain just opened a store in Dumfries, Scotland, with a carbon footprint  that is 70 percent smaller than the 2006 baseline. The store is the first in Scotland and follows the opening earlier this year of a store in Manchester, England, that has a similarly small carbon footprint.

Consumer-facing carbon related efforts include the labeling of more than 100 products in partnership with the Carbon Trust. Bread, milk and recycled paper will be added to the products that display their carbon footprint on labels affixed to the goods.

More information about Tesco’s efforts in environmental responsibility are available in its latest corporate responsibility report.

The Marks & Spencer How We Do Business report charts the progress the company has made in its 100 Plan A sustainability commitments, which were established in 2007 and targeted for fulfillment by 2012.

The company had planned to invest £200 million to fund Plan A over its five-year period, but Marks & Spencer said the program had become cost postive in the past year as a result of energy and efficiency savings.

In the past year, in addition to reducing carbon emissions by 18 percent, the company says it has:
— Reduced food packaging by 18 percent
— Reduced use of food carrier bags by 83 percent
— Increased the efficiency of its delivery fleets by 20 percent
— Used 37 million two-liter bottles to make polyester for M&S homeware and bedding as well as in polyester garments and re-usable shopping bags.

Marks and Spencer also reported that it has worked suppliers with to open four eco and three ethical model factories. The green sites include a garment factory for a Chinese supplier that uses 40 percent less water and electricity than a comparable, conventional factory. The site also has a grass roof.

Of its 100 commitments, Marks & Spencer says 39 have been achieved and new stretch goals have been set in 24 of the areas.


Image by ortonesque.