Retail

Business In The Community Ireland – Our Members, Us, And Sustainability

By Publications Checkout
Business In The Community Ireland – Our Members, Us, And Sustainability

As sustainability remains top-of-mind for customers and retailers alike, Business In The Community Ireland walks readers through steps undertaken by members to advance their sustainability goals, and the difference it is making. 

Supporting companies to embed all aspects sustainability into their business models is core to what Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) is about.

Our purpose is to inspire, challenge and facilitate businesses to bring about a sustainable, low carbon economy and more inclusive society where everyone thrives.

Our membership comprises over 100 large companies spanning multiple sectors including retail.

For nearly 25 years, we’ve been trusted advisers in all Economic, Environment, Social, and Governance (EESG) aspects of Sustainability, ensuring our network of businesses build capacity, ambition and leadership.

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The Low Carbon Pledge

Within the Environmental aspect of sustainability, we’ve seen significant strides by some of our retail members to become greener as they reduce their carbon emissions, advance sustainable innovations into their products and create more sustainable supply chains.

BITCI has assisted them with this in many ways. This includes establishing the Low Carbon Pledge which Boots, Aldi, Tesco and Musgraves are all signatories.

This Pledge now has 68 companies signed up spanning 11 different sectors, with Professional Services and Agribusiness / Food & Drink companies being the largest sector groups.

These Pledge signatories are committed to setting Science Based Targets (SBTs) no later than December 2024 across their entire carbon footprint (Scope 1, 2, & 3).

Our latest report published in Sept 2023, found 50% of Pledge signatories have fully set SBTs and had them approved by the Science Based Target Initiative.

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A further 31% have formally committed to setting SBTs. This means that 81% of the signatories are well progressed to setting science-based targets by the end of 2024.

We believe sustainability can and should be woven throughout the fabric of an organisation.

It works best when overseen by accountable senior leadership to continually push ambition and drive performance.

We are proud our independently audited sustainability standard, the Business Working Responsibly Mark, has been raising the bar for responsible, sustainable business for over a decade.

In an ever-evolving landscape, the Mark is aligned with the requirements of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD).

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Those certified with the Mark including Aldi, Boots and Tesco adopt a robust management system to record and measure impacts.

It demonstrates their commitment to sustainability and to continuous improvement to go beyond minimum reporting requirements.

These certified companies are united to utilise the Mark as a lever for change across the sustainability agenda, they value the cohesiveness it brings and avoids the pitfalls of conducting sustainability initiatives in siloes.

This collective movement is assisting companies as they champion sustainability and EESG, navigate mandatory regulatory environments and seek to do more.

BITCI thrives on collaborating, supporting and challenging our members to be leaders in EESG. Within the retail sector, here are what some of our members are doing to proactively reduce carbon emissions, minimise packaging and improve recycling.

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Aldi

Rachel Nugent, National Sustainability Manager, ALDI Ireland, with FoodCloud’s Rory O’Connell (left) and Patrick McKinney of Too Good to Go

With 161 stores and over 4,650 employees, Aldi operates in every county in the Republic of Ireland, providing access to fresh and affordable food while simultaneously prioritising environmental sustainability and community wellbeing.

Aldi's sustainability strategy “Better Everyday” supports business development and fulfils Aldi's promise to customers to make sustainability affordable for all.

The framework focuses on three pillars: Greener, Fairer and Healthier.

These crucial pillars form the basis of the decision-making process at Aldi, who was named Ireland’s most sustainable supermarket in the 2023 Ireland RepTrak Sustainability Index.

Aldi achieved The Business Working Responsibly Mark in 2020 and was recertified to the Mark in 2023. The Mark has assisted Aldi with the integration of various aspects of EESG such as food waste, plastics and packaging, and energy efficiency.

Food waste

Aldi has committed to reduce its food waste by 50% by 2030. In 2023, Aldi recommitted to the Retail Action Group’s Food Waste Charter, after being one of the first supermarkets to join in 2018.

Aldi's partnership with FoodCloud which has been ongoing since 2014, has resulted in more than 3.4 million meals being donated to nearly 600 groups across Ireland. This amounts to over 4.6 million CO2 being avoided.

In January 2023, Aldi became the first Irish supermarket to partner with food surplus app Too Good To Go, making this nationwide rollout a key part of its Better Everyday strategy and ongoing commitment to reducing food waste across its operations, whilst offering even lower prices to customers.

Plastics and Packaging

Aldi is conscious of the negative impact plastic has on the environment and how it’s a cause of concern for customers.

Subsequently, Aldi introduced its first Plastic and Packaging Pledges in 2018, which were updated in 2022.

These pledges reflect Aldi's commitment to reduce and remove any unnecessary plastic and packaging from its products.

To date, Aldi has made significant progress since setting these targets and the packaging on 99% of own-label products is now recyclable, reusable or compostable.

Aldi has successfully reduced its plastic packaging by 20%, demonstrating its ongoing efforts to mitigate its environmental footprint.

Energy Efficiency

Aldi is committed to achieving net zero carbon in its operations by 2035, as well as improving energy efficiency at every Aldi store, regional distribution centres and national office through improvements in lighting, refrigeration, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and small power.

Aldi has achieved ISO 50001 accreditation in recognition of its efforts to improve energy efficiencies with the Aldi Project Fresh retrofitting programme, ensuring every Aldi store receives a revamp.

This project moves to more efficient LED lighting throughout the sales area, which uses up to 60% less energy.

Since 2023, all new Aldi stores have solar panels installed.

Musgrave

Owen Koegh, Head of Sustainability Musgrave and Luke Hanlon MD Supervalu and Centra

Musgrave’s strategy, Growing sustainably every day, is about working with retail partners, suppliers and customers to make every community a sustainable community.

It is also focused on shifting consumer behaviour by making it easier for shoppers to make sustainable choices; and importantly, Musgrave have set a target of reducing their operational carbon emissions to reach Net Zero carbon by 2040.

In practice, this means considering the environmental impact of their activities in the round – from sourcing to consumption – as well as leveraging the collective opportunities that exist to reduce impacts within their commercial ecosystem.

For example, in 2022 Musgrave invested €25 million in a new sustainability fund, empowering SuperValu and Centra (their retail partners) to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Through this action they have reduced their collective carbon footprint by an estimated 12% over two years.

As the largest retailer and wholesaler in Ireland, Musgrave know the importance of reducing the impact of their fleet.

In 2023, Musgrave announced the roll out of Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel across their network of almost 500 vehicles.

By 2030, 50% of the fleet will operate on alternative fuel, with an overall ambition for the entire fleet to be net zero by 2040.

HVO is a fossil-fuel free biofuel and provides up to 90% reduction in C02 emissions per litre of fuel used.

To achieve this Net Zero ambition, Musgrave work across the full value chain and with suppliers, producers and partners to deliver an unprecedented reduction in emissions.

They are aware also how vital supplier collaboration is to achieve the targets on packaging, biodiversity, circular economy and creating vibrant communities.

Through innovation, mindful product development and by sharing best practice Musgrave continue to address excessive packaging and food waste.

Musgrave have made positive progress on this target and now 96% of all fruit and veg, own brand, and in-store packaging in SuperValu and Centra is recyclable, reusable or compostable.

Their scope 3 emissions reduction plan is a key focus for their plans in the future.

This includes engaging and supporting suppliers to develop their own emissions reduction plans.

This year Musgrave are proud to be one of the founding members of the All-Ireland Climate Action Pilot Programme for SMEs with Business in the Community Ireland.

Through this programme Musgrave aim to support their Food Academy suppliers with training and education to build emissions reduction programmes themselves.

Musgrave are committed to achieving ESG progress but cannot do this alone and so by mobilising all parts of the supply chain in their sector they can make great progress collectively.

Boots

Maeve McNamara, ESG Manager and Vicki Larry, Store Manager at the launch of Recycle at Boots

Boots, a household name in Ireland for health and beauty, launched in 2023 a ground-breaking initiative called Recycle at Boots, aimed at revolutionising the disposal of hard-to-recycle beauty and wellness packaging.

Recycle at Boots introduces an in-store recycling scheme across 50 Boots locations nationwide.

This initiative addresses the challenge of recycling plastic packaging from beauty and wellness products that cannot be recycled through household waste bins.

Items such as mascara wands, lipstick tubes, and toothpaste tubes often end up in landfills due to their inability to be cleaned or emptied sufficiently.

With Recycle at Boots, customers can now drop off these items at designated in-store recycling points – and the scheme accepts any brands and products not purchased in Boots.

Upon dropping off their empty products, customers are not only contributing to a more sustainable future but also being rewarded for their efforts.

For every five items recycled, customers receive 500 Boots Advantage Card points, equivalent to €5, to use in-store or online.

Recycle at Boots provides a tangible solution by allowing customers to recycle problematic items that would otherwise contribute to environmental degradation.

By making recycling accessible and rewarding, this scheme fosters a sense of community involvement in combating environmental challenges and crucially rewards customers for doing the right thing!

Recycle at Boots aligns with the company's Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy, aiming to reduce waste, increase recycling, and support sustainable beauty practices.

Through innovative Scan2Recycle technology, customers can easily track their recycling habits and contribute to a circular economy.

This initiative is innovative on multiple fronts, being the first of its kind in Ireland.

It incentivises responsible consumer behaviour, utilises cutting-edge technology for seamless recycling, and closes the loop on the plastic journey by transforming recycled items into new products like stormboard.

With over 4,000 registered users and thousands of items recycled, the impact is already significant.

Through ongoing measurement and reporting, Boots ensures transparency and accountability in its sustainability efforts.

Boots was delighted to be awarded Sustainable Retailer of the Year 2023 at the Retail Excellence Ireland Awards, recognised “as a role model for positive change in the retail landscape” and earlier this year the Recycle at Boots scheme won Project of the Year in the Sustainable Waste and Circular Economy category at the PwC Ireland Business Post Sustainable Business Awards.

Recycle at Boots is not just a recycling scheme; it's a testament to Boots' commitment to environmental stewardship and community engagement.

By empowering customers to make a difference, Boots is leading the charge towards a more sustainable future, one beauty product at a time. Join the movement, recycle at Boots, and be a part of the solution.

Tesco Ireland

Tesco recycling bins

Tesco is one of Ireland’s largest grocery retailers having operated in the Irish retail market since 1997.

With 175 stores nationwide, it employs over 13,500 people around Ireland, supporting almost 45,000 jobs directly and indirectly.

Deposit Return Scheme

Tesco Ireland has shown its commitment to tackling waste and contributing to the circular economy by fully getting behind Ireland’s Deposit Return Scheme.

The company has made a €15 million investment in state-of-the-art machines for all its 175 stores. More than 500,000 Tesco customers are now using their Reverse Vending Machines every week.

Sustainable Development Goal Champions

In May 2023, Tesco Ireland was appointed as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) champion for 2023-2024.

The retailer is among a group of 26 organisations awarded the special status as leaders who advocate and promote the SDGs into their work practices and activities.

The special status aligns strongly to Tesco’s stated commitment to be carbon neutral in its own Group operations by 2035 and net zero across its entire value chain by 2050.

Food Waste

Over the past decade, almost 20 million meals, or 7,900 tonnes of food, have been redistributed to people living in food insecurity across Ireland through Tesco’s Surplus Food Donations Programme.

On average, 40,000 meals are donated every week to over 350 charities across the country.

In 2013, Tesco became the first retailer to partner nationally with FoodCloud in Ireland.

Through the partnership with FoodCloud and with Olio, Tesco donates surplus food from 175 stores nationwide every day.

In July 2023, the retailer re-signed the Irish Government’s Food Waste Charter, making a public commitment to target, measure, and act on food waste.

Packaging & Plastic

At Tesco, the target is to ensure never to use more packaging than is needed.

Where packaging is needed, to reduce food waste or to protect a product in transit, the retailer does its best to ensure to use packaging from sustainable sources.

Tesco is a member of Repak and are proud signatories of the Repak Plastics Pledge.

In its latest packaging innovation Tesco has launched a more sustainable packaging format across all its fresh mince meat products.

The flow wrap alternative known as ‘pillow pack’ uses just under 70% less plastic and has the potential to save around 76 tonnes of plastic each year.

Refrigeration, lighting and heating

Since 2016, Tesco has made significant energy efficiency upgrades to the fridge, lighting and heating systems across its stores.

It has led the way in retail refrigeration by moving to phase out higher Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerant gases like 404a and replacing with lower CO2 impact gas 448a.

Renewable Energy

Tesco sources 100% renewable energy to power its network of stores, offices and distribution centres.

As part of its partnership with Green Generation, who process their surplus food waste via anaerobic digestion, Tesco purchases renewable gas made from its own surplus food to power six of its stores.

Business In Community Ireland

All these activities and initiatives being led by high profile retailers who are all members of Business in the Community Ireland demonstrate their understanding and commitment to more sustainable practices for the benefit of the planet and its people.

Read More: Mentorship Series #2: Allyship In Action

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