Lidl and Waitrose top supermarket sustainability ranking

10th February 2022


Lidl and Waitrose are the most sustainable supermarkets in the UK, according to a ranking by Which?, with Iceland bottom of the pile.

The research involved rating 11 major supermarkets on their efforts to minimise plastic waste, food waste, and greenhouse gas emissions, based on hundreds of pieces of data from annual reports.

Lidl ranked above its rivals on greenhouse gas emissions, and third best for plastic use, boasting a massive 87% of its own-brand plastic as being recyclable at kerbside. It scored poorly on food waste, but claimed this was due to selling more fresh items than other supermarkets, in relative terms.

Waitrose earned a reasonable score for greenhouse gas emissions and strong results for both plastic and food waste compared to other supermarkets.

Frozen food specialist Iceland was the worst performer on operational greenhouse gas emissions by some margin – Iceland’s in-store freezers need a lot of energy to run, though it does buy 100% renewable electricity for its UK sites.

M&S was the only supermarket unable to provide its food waste data in a comparable format, so scored zero points for this. The supermarket uses a lot of plastic relative to the number of grocery items it sells, and is also in the bottom half of the table for emissions.

Aldi came just after Lidl in the greenhouse gas rankings, but has the best operational emissions intensity (Scope 1 and 2 emissions relative to its revenue) of all 11 major supermarkets, and has decent targets to reduce them further.

The Co-op was the best supermarket on the overall issue of plastic, with a market-leading 94% of own label plastic packaging recyclable at kerbside. All of its own-brand plastic packaging can be recycled if you include in-store collection points.

Ocado beat the other supermarkets when it came to food waste. It redistributes almost all surplus food, leaving just 0.04% as waste. Aldi, Co-op and Lidl have 24 times as much food waste proportional to their food sales as Ocado.

Harry Rose, editor at Which? magazine, said: “We know that consumers increasingly want to shop sustainably and our in-depth analysis of three key areas shows that all the big supermarkets could be looking to make some improvements.

“The good news is shoppers can make a big difference themselves by adopting more sustainable habits, such as buying loose fruit and vegetables, buying seasonal local produce, eating less meat and dairy and limiting their own food waste.”

Image credit: iStock

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