Retail sector to be net zero by 2040

UK retailers will support sustainable diets and transition to electric delivery vehicles as part of an ambition to achieve net zero emissions by 2040.

Over 60 leading retailers including Aldi, Morrisons and Greggs are supporting the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) Climate Action Roadmap which aims to align the retail industry and its supply chains with legislative targets for the UK to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Demand for UK retail products is currently responsible for in excess of 200 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent. The BRC believes that with support from government, the industry can decarbonise stores by 2030, deliveries by 2035 and products by 2040 in order to achieve net zero emissions ten years ahead of the government’s UK-wide target.

The UK farming sector already has an ambition to achieve net zero by 2040. This week’s move by retailers looks set to increase the pressure on the foodservice and hospitality sector to follow suit.

The retail roadmap sets out five pathways for action. They are to put decarbonisation at the core of all business decision making; reduce carbon emissions from shops and distribution centres; move to net zero logistics operations; increase sustainably sourced products; and help customers and employees to live low carbon lifestyles.

The transition to net zero will see retail customers provided with personalised, zero carbon products and incentivised to eat healthy, sustainable diets.

Retail stores will be powered by renewable energy, while efficient nutrient cycling will ensure no resources are wasted.

Products will be sourced from carbon-rich, biodiversity-supporting farmland that supports the UK rural economy.

The BRC said the journey to net zero promises to bring new commercial opportunities for retailers with the rapid decarbonisation of the industry allowing companies to reduce costs and deliver new products and services to customers.

“Never before has an entire industry been so ambitious in tackling climate change,” said Helen Dickinson, BRC chief executive. “Retail is the critical gateway between vast international supply chains and every one of us as citizens. We have a fantastic opportunity to make a real global difference if we can all work collectively.”

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