As Southern Co-op continues to grow its estate, it’s also continuing to reduce its overall carbon footprint with a reduction of 36 percent in absolute greenhouse gas emissions since 2019.
The figures have been released in the regional co-operative’s latest annual review which shows that there was also a decrease of 10 percent compared with 2021.
Southern Co-op has committed to reduce absolute scope one and two greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2030 from a 2019 base year – this relates to emissions that fall under its operational control such as electricity, gas, fuel and emissions associated with refrigeration.
This was on top of a previous reduction of the business’s carbon footprint of 27 percent between 2012 and 2019.
The overall number of Southern Co-op’s coffee stores, retail stores, funeral and burial ground locations increased by 42 since 2019 to more than 300.
Gemma Lacey, Director of Sustainability and Communications at Southern Co-op, said: “It’s very rewarding to see that the actions we are taking to tackle climate change are making a difference. But these actions go beyond greenhouse gas emissions as we’ve been working on enhancing areas for wildlife, keeping products in the food chain and encouraging customers to recycle soft plastics.
“We also took the decision to remove plastic ‘bags for life’ from sale, offering instead a smaller range of durable reusable bags and compostable bags. More recently these compostable bags have been removed from our self-service checkouts to deter people from taking them unnecessarily.”
Over the next year Southern Co-op will be prioritising retail energy efficiency programmes and looking for further reduction opportunities in its end of life services and Cobra Coffee business.
Key actions outlined in the 2022-2023 annual review include:
- Solar panels installed in a total of 11 locations with more in planning
- Replacing older, obsolete refrigeration as part of a long term phased programme
- Twin-bladed shelf-edge strips called EcoBlades to keep the cool air in and hot air out rolled out to 97 locations – these provide up to 26 percent energy saving
- Replacing refrigeration fans with a more energy efficient version providing up to 9 percent energy saving
- Trialling thermal night blinds on refrigeration that don’t have doors which have a potential 7 percent energy saving
- Assessing sub metering to better understand equipment usage, adjusting times on equipment to save energy, identifying, and taking localised action to address high energy using sites
- Optimising Building Management Systems which manage and monitor equipment on sites e.g. managing oven operating times and turning lights on/off
- Enhancing wildlife habitats at the 93 acres across Southern Co-op’s crematoria, woodland and natural burial grounds
- Establishing a Biodiversity Working Group to look at opportunities for enhancing green spaces around or near food stores, such as installing bat and nesting boxes
- Supporting Wilder Portsmouth and Wilder Wight projects by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust which are helping to build nature recovery networks across these areas
- Too Good To Go, which enables customers to rescue magic bags of surplus unsold food, available across all food and coffee stores
- Continuing a scheme in 20 stores called Share to Care, which donates unsold surplus food to good causes
- Soft plastics, such as cling film, biscuit and crisp wrappers, can now be recycled in 167 stores
- Disposable barbecues have been permanently removed from sale in all stores to protect the environment from increased risk of fire
Support for the local community was also significant in 2022/23 with a total of £2,126,232 of contributions made via its Love Your Neighbourhood community programme.
The programme aims to make neighbourhoods greener, safer, healthier, and more inclusive, and includes a mix of financial donations, volunteering, goods donations, customer and colleague fundraising, and the carrier bag fund.
To read Southern Co-op’s annual review and to view its highlights video, visit https://southern.coop/who-we-are/annual-report-2022-23.