In July 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Co-op Group's Sustainability Report 2019, 'Co-operate: It's what we do'.
The report discussed the company's environmental and social impact. It addressed a wide variety of issues covering many aspects of the company's activities. Greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprints were discussed covering: ingredient sourcing, land-use change, manufacture, packaging, transport, on-site energy use and refrigeration, and waste. Reference was also made to the carbon impact arising from customers as well as the companies investments.
It discussed plastic packaging waste of its own business and its customers. Food waste and water scarcity were also addressed.
Sourcing issues were addressed including responsible fishing and farming, antibiotic use, animal welfare and animal testing. Deforestation issues around soy and palm were discussed as was peat degradation. Impacts of pesticide use and sourcing of wood and paper were also highlighted.
The report also discussed how it considered environmental criteria for its investments, and stated that the investments in fixed-income bonds made by its insurance business were screened against its ethical policy.
The company reported a 39% reduction in direct GHG emissions and 2.5% reduction in product-related GHG emissions between 2016 and 2019. The company was engaged in carbon offset projects. It stated that it had consistently campaigned against fracking and in favour of renewable energy. The company had reduced food waste by 27% since 2015. Many other figures reporting the company's prprogress were reported.
The report provided comprehensive quantitative data covering the majority of the above environmental aspects.
The company was therefore considered to demonstrate a good understanding of its environmental impacts.
The report contained at least two quantifiable targets. These included:
- 50% reduction in direct emissions by 2025 compared to 2016.
- 11% reduction in product related emissions by 2025 compared to 2016.
- Eliminate all own-brand plastic products not designed to be recycled or reused by 2023.
- Reduce food waste generated in own stores and depots by 50% by 2030 compared to 2015.
- Reduce water consumption across own properties by 10% by 2025 compared to 2020.
- 100% of palm oil in own products will be segregated RSPO certified by the end of 2020.
- 100% of soy in own products, including that embedded in animal feed, will be deforestation-free and sustainable by 2025.
The report had been independently verified and assured by DNV GL Business Assurance Services UK Limited.
Therefore the Co-op received Ethical Consumer's best rating for Environmental Reporting.
Sustainability Report 2019 (2019)