Photo courtesy of Tesco

Tesco’s new mission: Net zero emissions across chain by 2050

Produce Business report

UK supermarket chain Tesco is making a further commitment to world climate sustainability by saying it would reach net zero emissions in its value chain by 2050.

The action will include all of the products that are in its stores as well as throughout supply chains, which will meet the goals set out by the United Nations in diffusing global warning.

“In this critical year for tackling climate change, it’s right that we set out this ambitious commitment to cut emissions across our entire value chain,” Tesco Group CEO, Ken Murphy said.”We don’t yet have all the answers and we’ll need support from our suppliers and wider society to meet our targets, but it’s vital we take action now. Building on the good progress we’ve made in cutting emissions in our own operations, we’re also setting out a Group-wide net zero target of 2035. These new commitments will bring an unprecedented level of transparency to our emissions footprint and will allow us to identify and tackle those areas where urgent transformational change is needed.”

This new goal aligns with Tesco’s mission to reach net zero across its operations in the UK by 2035.

The retailer says its 2050 commitment will cover “sourcing of raw materials and food production, where emissions are generated through agriculture and manufacturing; plus food waste; and in people’s dietary choices.” It said it will get there in part with a boost in plant-based food offerings.

But it will take more than a village to make it a reality, so Tesco will be relying on its partners to achieve those dreams.

“It’s vital we continue the good work in our own operations but also drive collective action with our suppliers to achieve these new commitments,” Tesco Chief Product Officer, Ashwin Prasad said. “We’re encouraged that 100 of Tesco’s largest suppliers have already reduced manufacturing emissions by 20%, but we know we all have further to go. Which is why today I have written to all Tesco suppliers to ask for their support in the transition to a low carbon economy.”

Tesco notes that more than 90% of its emissions come from its products and supply chains, but says that its top 100 suppliers have already trimmed 20% of their emissions.

In the next year, Tesco says it will aim to achieve the following:

  • Supporting all suppliers to establish a net zero ambition and set science-based targets
  • Accelerating operational decarbonisation across key emissions hotspots such as refrigeration, heating and transport
  • Trialling innovations with suppliers to reduce emissions from agriculture, including the use of low-carbon fertiliser and alternative animal feed such as insect meal
  • Cutting emissions associated with customer’s diets, including increasing the sales of plant-based products
  • Advocating for collaborative industry action and support from Government

“The scale of this welcome commitment from Tesco creates much-needed momentum as we head into COP26 – and throws down the gauntlet to other big companies to match this ambition, and to the government to back their action through legislation to require all businesses to publish credible net zero plans,” Tanya Steele, Chief Executive of WWF, said. “This announcement shows that even our biggest and most complex businesses know that if we’re going to tackle the climate and nature crisis, it can’t be done by offshoring our emissions through imports and supply chains – we need to change every part of the system. We at WWF don’t underestimate the challenge of translating this into a roadmap to net zero that moves at sufficient pace throughout Tesco’s supply chains. But the payoff is worth it.”



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