Asda and Sustainability

In an interview with 2degrees, Asda’s Head of Corporate Sustainability talks about how one of the UK’s largest retailers is engaging with sustainability

Asda Train

Key points:

  • A vast amount of Asda’s 35% improvement in energy efficiency is from colleague engagement, for example closing chiller doors and turning off ‘pizza cappers’ (i.e. pizza wrapping machines!) when not in use
  • There’s no silver bullet for engaging staff on sustainability issues, but making them realise that the financial savings will affect their personal bonus can help
  • Asda has built a Sustain & Save Exchange to engage its suppliers on sustainability issues. Central to its success is being open, transparent and clear about why suppliers should get involved
  • The Exchange is driven by suppliers themselves; it acts as a forum to enable suppliers to discuss issues that are important to them and learn from each other
  • One element to the Exchange is the Resource Saver, which benchmarks suppliers and suggests measures to improve performance. This is a particularly useful tool for smaller suppliers which don’t have a dedicated sustainability professional or sustainability expertise
  • One supplier, Arla Foods, recently opened up its doors to other Asda suppliers to showcase its LED lighting. As a result there are promising signs that other suppliers will implement similar technology to save money and carbon emissions
  • Supermarkets can work together on certain sustainability issues, such as palm oil, but scope is somewhat limited as there is a need to avoid breaching competition law. In an case, competition itself is a driver of efficiency improvements

The pizza capper: potential enemy of energy efficiency

  • More sustainable products should not be more expensive. Asda has a unique opportunity to reach sections of the public which would normally not engage with sustainability issues
  • Members of the procurement department are now approaching Asda’s Sustainability Team by themselves, so sustainability education is clearly having an impact
  • Sustainability work can be frustrating – after all, you’re transforming the way business operates. But if you persevere in making sustainability relevant and accessible, you will have success

You can watch the full interview here

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