What is sustainability and why is it important to Waitrose & Partners?

From the beginning, caring about communities and the world around us has been central to what we do here at Waitrose – and will be pivotal in helping us work towards future progression. Our recent and future goals are an integral aspect of our changes in how we operate and reduce the impact we have on the environment.

Why is sustainability important to Waitrose?

Our food touches the lives of millions of people. From our customers to those who make, grow and pack our products. We are passionate about every step of our products’ journey and ensuring it has the least amount of negative impact on our planet as possible. Our corporate social responsibility is built upon 3 pillars.

These 3 pillars of Sustainability are:

Environmental

One of our key goals in sustainable development is to eliminate unnecessary plastics from our own brand packaging by 2023 and replace it with widely recyclable or home-compostable material. Once we meet this target, Waitrose’s environmental sustainability will be at a level where we can focus on developing other parts of our partnership with a conscious effort in maintaining our shrinking footprint.

Our main objectives in improving environmental sustainability are to divert as much waste from landfill, provide customers with creative and innovative solutions to reuse products or dispose of them responsibly and decarbonise our operations through constant and significant reinvestment into greener technologies.

The hard work we have put into reducing unnecessary packaging has not gone unnoticed either, as we topped Greenpeace’s supermarket plastics scorecard. This scoring was contributed to with the implementation of the new Waitrose Unpacked test. Launched in 2019 at Waitrose Botley Road in Oxford, the aim was to reduce unnecessary packaging and test how customers shop these products. As a result, we saw total packaging reduced by 41%, 130,000 pieces of single-use packaging removed and single-use plastic packaging reduced by 98%. With this success in mind, we will be looking to roll out similar initiatives to other stores soon.

Social

Our social responsibility is captured in the positive work we do in and around the communities that Waitrose is a part of. Since we started our green token “Community Matters” scheme in 2008, we have donated over £35 million to important causes around the UK with over £4 million donated in 2019 alone. These important causes are all chosen by our loyal customers.

Not only do we support local communities with charitable donations and contributions through our Community Matters scheme, the Partnership supports other organisations in distributing aid and assistance to those in need locally, nationally and internationally. In 2019 we created a £1 million community fund, donated over £1.4 million to around 3,000 local charities and continued to support programmes and initiatives such as Age UK, Fareshare and the Trussel Trust.

Economic

With our future goals constantly evolving and changing, we at Waitrose want to ensure that we are laying the best economic foundations we can for our future partners and suppliers. Therefore, we have taken a large chunk of our profits and reinvested it into the “Waitrose & Partners Foundation”. Formed in 2005, £11 million so far has been invested into improving lives and better work conditions for the local communities that work with us globally, ensuring Waitrose continues to deliver the best service we can to our valued customers while also supporting those that allow us to do so.

In 2019, the Waitrose & Partners Foundation invested in 90 projects in seven different countries, resulting in the support of over 27,000 people throughout our complex and varied supply chain. We work closely with multiple organisations in ensuring that our workforce is treated fairly and given enough financial support to provide suitable conditions for them to operate in. Over 1,150 farms have been assessed and verified that these conditions are being provided while also ensuring that they are given written contracts and payslips.

What is next for Waitrose & Partners?

We are proud of the progress we have made to date, however there is much more to do in improving and establishing ourselves as the most ethical and sustainable retailer in the UK. Within the Waitrose stores, we are looking to build upon our current 97% renewable electricity consumption, with the desire of making this 100%, we have an interesting journey ahead.

With the recent opening of the new Enfield Customer Fulfilment Centre, our goal for 228 heavy goods vehicles to run on biomethane by the end of 2020 is within distance. As technology develops and we look to invest in new ways to reduce our environmental impact, our aim of removing fossil fuels across our entire transport fleet by 2030 is the next big step.

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