The Co-operative Group, Nestlé and Sainsbury’s say they will improve the sustainability performance of some of their products in response to research from the Product Sustainability Forum.
The study, published by the Waste and Resources Action Program (WRAP), analyzed 50 grocery products with the biggest environmental impact and found that together they contribute between 21 and 33 percent of household greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some of the products include such staples as bread, potatoes, bananas and milk.
“The main objective of this important research has been to establish which grocery products are likely to contribute the most to environment impacts associated with UK household consumption,” said Dr. Liz Goodwin, CEO of WRAP and chair of the Product Sustainability Forum.
As a result, the Co-operative, Nestlé and Sainsbury’s will begin pilot projects called “pathfinders” to decrease the supply chain footprint of products with the most GHG emissions, product waste, and water, energy and resource use.
The Co-operative says it will engage stakeholders in its potato value chain to identify and act on ways to prevent waste and improve resource efficiency, including GHG emissions and energy and water consumption.
Nestlé will work with its main milk supplier in the UK, First Milk, to develop new working methods. The company also announced a series of goals such as achieving 100 percent certified sustainable palm oil by the end of this year and reducing direct GHG per ton of product by 35 percent by 2015.
Sainsbury's plans to focus on the environmental impacts of its meat, fish, poultry and produce.
Since 2009, these three and other UK retailers and brands have reduced their supply chain waste by 8.8 percent, well ahead of the three-year target of 5 percent, according to an October 2012 report by WRAP.
Earlier this year Sainsbury’s was among the first to be awarded the Carbon Trust Water Standard, given to organizations meeting a series of criteria showing a long-term commitment to reductions in water inputs and wastewater.