Firms to test products' impacts

9th April 2013

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The Co-operative, Nestlé and Sainsbury's are to initiate trials aimed at improving the environmental performance of products

The publication of research looking at the greenhouse-gas (GHG), waste, water, energy and resource impacts of traditional grocery goods throughout their life cycles has signalled the start of trials by the Co-operative, Nestlé and Sainsbury’s to improve the environmental performance of some of their products.

The three companies will pilot projects known as “pathfinders”, to target their efforts where many of the biggest environmental savings can be achieved.

The decision to launch the trials follows research from the Product Sustainability Forum (PSF) – a collaboration of more than 80 organisations, including grocery and home improvement retailers, suppliers, representatives from NGOs and the UK government – which identified the groups of products with the greatest potential environmental impacts.

It is estimated that, together, these “top 50” product groups comprise about 80% of the GHG emissions associated with the production, transportation and selling of all grocery products consumed in the UK.

The Co-operative and Nestlé will look at waste prevention and resource-efficiency measures across their potato, milk and chocolate supply chains, while Sainsbury’s will focus its activity on its meat, fish, and poultry products as well as fresh produce.

“This [project] will allow us to identify areas where we can make environmental savings while still delivering great quality products,” commented Iain Ferguson, environment manager at the Co-operative.

Liz Goodwin, CEO at Wrap, which published the PSF report and is coordinating the pilots, said: “By gaining a better understanding of the products that matter in the context of UK consumption, we can help businesses to prioritise their efforts to improve the environmental performance of their products in areas that will generate the biggest economic and environmental savings.”

The PSF research examined product life-cycle data from more than 150 published studies as well as from members. Wrap plans to adopt a similar methodology to review the electrical and home improvement markets.


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