Sainsbury’s has announced that it is investing £1bn to commit to an extensive plastic and food waste reduction initiative, with the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2040 – 10 years earlier than any other supermarket.

The investment will be staggered across a twenty year period as the supermarket aims to become a Net Zero business, aligned to the ambitions of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and a decade ahead of the UK Government’s own target.

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.

This follows the recent news that Tesco aims to remove 350 tonnes of plastic a year from the environment by removing plastic wrapping from its multipack tins, whilst Asda trials a sustainability store, allowing shoppers to refill their own containers with Asda products to cut down on packaging.

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.

“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.


John Perry, managing director at SCALA, the supply chain and logistics organisation, said: “The news that Sainsbury’s is set to go net-zero by 2040 – a full decade earlier than some of its competitors, and indeed the UK as a whole – is extremely welcome. That said, the announcement is somewhat undermined by the notable omission of any concrete pledges to improve the environmental credentials of Sainsbury’s supplier network, which is responsible for most of the chain’s emissions.

“To create net-zero pledges that achieve major, long-term gains, businesses should ensure their environmental stance is properly reflected by their supplier network, which means partnering with suppliers that share their sustainability values and goals.

“To this end, businesses should prioritise longer-term and more strategic relationships with their partners, as this will in turn support longer-term thinking and subsequent investment into sustainability initiatives. Establishing and communicating expectations through a supplier code of conduct is a particularly effective way for businesses to involve suppliers in their sustainability efforts.

“By working in close partnership with their suppliers, businesses can drive a cleaner, greener future for the planet while substantially improving their reputation and bottom line.”