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What we’re working towards on our sustainability journey

Sustainability | 24 November 2020 | Julie Owst

We’ve recently released our latest Sustainability report, albeit a bit later than normal. The 2020s are widely agreed to be the decade of action on climate change so it did feel counter-intuitive to release the report late but it just wasn’t possible to keep to normal timelines, given the impacts of Covid-19. It takes a lot of time to collate all the necessary data for the previous financial year (July – June) and we always get it externally verified so you know you can trust what we say.

Leading up to April 2020, sustainability professionals had never been busier. The momentum was tangibly increasing and more organisations were setting ambitious carbon reduction targets, looking not just at their own operations but at supply chains too.  It was encouraging to see measurable progress in plastic reduction and recyclability. It seemed engagement and interest in sustainability topics had never been higher, both within Bidfood and amongst our customers and suppliers.

Our report reflects the strides forward we had started to take and some highlights from 2019/20 include:

  • our employees supported 201 different charities, volunteered 2,412 hours and fundraised £66,782
  • our sustainability co-ordinators were highly commended in the Sustainability Team of the Year category at the BusinessGreen Leaders Awards.
  • we became AB members of SEDEX and successfully established relationships with over 90% of our own brand tier 1 sites on the SEDEX platform
  • we recruited a sustainable packaging manager who has accelerated our progress on plastics reduction and recyclability
  • we became members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil and the Sustainable Fishing Coalition, to help drive progress in these areas
  • we joined forces with our competitor, Brakes, to deliver over five million vital food packs to clinically vulnerable people shielding, in the biggest food redistribution scheme since World War II
  • our Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions for CO2 have continued their steady downward trajectory since 2015/16, with a reduction in Scope 1 of 29% and a reduction in Scope 2 of 45% in that period.

Our efforts to build on these will continue into 2021 and beyond. The announcement of our parent company’s commitment to reduce CO2 emissions by 25% by 2025 has set the scene for some challenging conversations as to how we might achieve this, and what metrics we’ll set. None of this will be easy, as the uncertainty in our industry prevents wide scale capital spend on infrastructure, which is what would be needed for reductions on this scale.

I’ve personally been really encouraged by the number of online events dedicated to sharing knowledge and accelerating progress in key areas. A personal highlight for me has been joining the WRAP working groups on greenhouse measurement and reduction in supply chains, and securing the input of Oxford University, DEFRA, UKHospitality and the Carbon Forum in shaping our response to this complex challenge. I know a growing number of customers also want to see progress in this space, as they set their own carbon reduction commitments, and we are hearing that sustainability is still very much at the top of the agenda for many operators in the hospitality and foodservice sectors.

Finally, as 2020 draws to a close, I think this year has highlighted that individually we are vulnerable but there is power in collective action. From community projects to industry-wide collaborations, we achieve so much more when we work together. In a year of great change, we keep on moving forward. You can read more about our achievements and targets in our Sustainability report.

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