In November 2020 Ethical Consumer downloaded the Morrisons 2019/20 'Corporate Responsibility' report.

The report discussed carbon emissions, food waste and packaging - including plastic, recycling, waste, lowering pesticide use in farming and promoting sustainable farming practices. It also discussed palm oil, timber sourcing and sustainable seafood sourcing.

Morrisons also sold clothing, household and personal care products. The report discussed cotton sourcing, stating that "100% of the cotton used in [the company's own brand] Nutmeg clothing will be in line with the Better Cotton Initiative by 2025".

Since its last report, Morrisons had introduced additional reporting around cotton, pesticides and sustainable farming and was seen to be moving in the right direction. However, as the company received a worst rating for its toxic chemicals policy, it was not considered to have demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its main impacts.

The report included more than two dated, quantified targets for reducing the company's environmental impacts, including:

- reduce Morrisons operational [greenhouse gas] emissions by 33% by 2025, 53% by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2040 (2017 baseline).
- reducing own brand plastic packaging by 50% by 2025 (2018 baseline).

Selected KPIs in the report had been verified by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. It stated: "The scope of our work was limited to assurance over the information on pages 42 to 45 entitled ‘KPIs Assured and Basis of Preparation’ in Morrisons’ Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/20 (the “Selected Information" Ethical Consumer expected to see verification of all the quantifiable data in the report, rather than select data.

Due to the fact that Morrisons had two quantified and future dated targets and a report dated within the last two years, but the data was not all verified and did not demonstrate reasonable understanding of its impact, it received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for Environmental Reporting and lost half a mark in this category.

Reference:

Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/2020 (2020)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Morrisons’ Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/20, looking for information on what the company was doing to reduce its climate change impact. Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:

1 a) For the company to show that it has a reasonable understanding of its areas of climate impact and how to ameliorate them, and appears to be taking steps to do so

Morrisons’ Corporate Responsibility Report included a section dedicated to discussing the company’s strategy relating to climate change. This page gave details of the following steps the company was taking regarding:

energy saving initiatives in stores
Improving the efficiency of logistics

1 b) For the company to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place

An important climate policy for the supermarket sector is phasing out HFC refrigerants. Morrisons', corporate website and 2017-18 'Corporate Responsibility Review' discussed refrigeration, stating, 34 stores across the estate now have fridges fitted with doors to reduce energy consumption, with estimated energy savings of around 30-40%. We also have 26 stores with full CO2 refrigeration." The company stated that it would continue to install CO2 refrigeration, however, it did not explicitly commit to phasing out HFCs.

1 c) For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding its climate actions.

Morrisons was found to be a retailer of petrol and therefore did not fulfill this criterion.

2) For the company to report its scope 1&2 emissions annually

Morrisons’ Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/20 contained scope 1 & 2 greenhouse gas emissions.

3) For the company to report scope 3 emissions, covering at least tier one suppliers (all greenhouse gases, which means reporting in CO2e, not just CO2).

Scope 3 emissions data appeared not yet to have been published, however the Report suggested the company was working towards it. “We are working with the Carbon Trust to establish baseline data for our scope 3 emissions, which includes purchased goods and services in our supply chain.

4) For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.

Morrisons had a target to reduce operational emissions by 33% by 2025, 53% by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2040 (2017 baseline)
The report also stated that the company was working to set a “Scope 3 science based target” in the future.

Overall, Morrisons received Ethical Consumer’s Worst Rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a full mark under the Climate Change category.

Reference:

Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/2020 (2020)

The campaign group Feedback published a report in June 2018 entitled The food waste scorecard: an assessment of supermarket action to address food waste. The report ranked UK supermarkets based on publicly available information, mainly from their websites or news articles, to assess their efforts to tackle food waste in the industry.

The report measured supermarkets against the food use hierarchy. Feedback established key indicators for each facet of the food use hierarchy, which include reducing and preventing surplus food as a priority, followed by redistributing surplus food, recycling surplus food and finally the proper disposal of food waste. Supermarkets scored a point for each of the 32 key indicators successfully implemented.

Morrisons scored a D rating overall and ranked joint 4th out of 10 supermarkets assessed in the report, along with Asda and Lidl.

On reducing and preventing surplus food, Morrisons was found to have implemented 6 of the 20 key indicators and scored a point for making its food waste data publicly available. Morrisons’ in-store food waste data highlighted that 11,000 tonnes of food went to waste in 2017/18.

The second step in the food use hierarchy is redistribution, which involves surplus food that is fit for human consumption being sent to charities and organisations that redistribute food. Morrisons was found to have implemented 3 of the 4 key indicators and scored 1 out of 3 available points for the quantity of food redistributed, which totalled 3.4 million tonnes based on the most recent data available. Morrisons announced in 2018 that it would donate £45,000 to the Community Fridge Network, a food surplus initiative run by environmental charity Hubbub. The Community Fridge Network stocks community fridges with edible surplus food from local businesses and are open to everyone.

The food use hierarchy holds that food surplus unfit for human consumption should be used to feed animals. Morrisons did not score any points under this criteria and was not found to be engaging in this activity.

The final step in the food use hierarchy is the disposal of inedible food waste. Most UK supermarkets have a zero waste to landfill commitment. Instead, large quantities of food suitable for human consumption is being sent to Anaerobic Digestion (AD) to be converted into energy. According to the Feedback report, AD should only be used to process food waste which is unsuitable for redistribution or animal feed. Morrisons was recognised for fulfilling 1 of the 3 key indicators under the disposal criteria due to its zero waste to landfill commitment.

The report stated, "Producing our food costs our planet dearly, with Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) from agriculture, forestry and fisheries doubling over the past 50 years (FAO 2014) to nearly 20% of emissions resulting from human activity. Globally, around one third of all food produced is wasted (FAO 2011)". As Morrisons scored well, this reference is for information only.

Reference:

Food Waste scorecard 2018 (18 April 2019)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Morrison's website and saw that the company sold clothing and cosmetics. Ethical Consumer searched for a policy on toxic chemicals in its clothing and cosmetics products but none could be found. It therefore received a worst rating for its toxic chemicals policy.

Many of the processes involved in the manufacture of clothing, especially the production of man made fibres and dying of fabrics, release numerous hazardous substances that have a significant negative environmental impact. As the issue was considered to be an industry wide problem all clothing companies lost a whole mark under pollution and toxics unless: they used 100% sustainably sourced materials (i.e. organic, recycled or cotton sourced under the Better Cotton Initiative); or were listed as a leader in the Greenpeace Detox campaign; or had a turnover of less than £10.2 million and were providing an environmental alternative. Some companies partially met these criteria, or were signatories to ZDHC (Zero Discharge Hazardous Chemicals), and lost only half a mark. Morrisons did meet any of these criteria.

In relation to cosmetics, Ethical Consumer expected the company to have a policy on the use of the hazardous chemicals parabens, triclosan and phthalates.

Some forms or uses of these chemicals were banned or restricted in the EU or the USA. Triclosan is an antibacterial and a suspected endocrine disruptor. Parabens are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer. They are used as preservatives. Phthalates, usually DEP or DBP, are used in fragrances and are endocrine disruptors.

A strong policy on toxics would be no use of these chemicals or clear, dated targets for ending their use. No policy was found.

Morrisons receieved Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Pollutions and Toxics and lost a whole mark in this category.

Reference:

www.morrisons-corporate.com (13 January 2020)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed the Morrison's website, my.morrisons.com, and found that the company sold a range of clothes containing cotton under the "Nutmeg" brand. The clothes were not labelled as being made from organic cotton.

Morrisons' website stated: "Morrisons is committed to improving cotton farming practices globally with the Better Cotton Initiative. The Better Cotton Initiative makes global cotton production better for the people who produce it, better for the environment it grows in, and better for the sector’s future. Better Cotton is sourced via a system of Mass Balance. We are committed to sourcing 100% of cotton used in our Nutmeg clothing range as Better Cotton by 2025."

Although this was a positive commitment, Ethical Consumer looked for policies already in place to cover a company's entire clothing range. As the company's range was not 100% certified at the time of writing, it received Ethical Consumer's Worst Rating for its cotton sourcing policy and lost marks in three categories as detailed below:

According to Anti-Slavery international (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton. Due to the high proportion of cotton likely to have come from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan and the prevalence of forced labour in its production, the company lost half a mark in the Workers Rights category.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales. Due to the impacts of the widespread use of pesticides in cotton production worldwide the company also lost half a mark in the Pollution & Toxics category.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017. Due to the prevalence of GM cotton in cotton supply chains and the lack of any evidence that the company avoided it, it was assumed that some of the company's cotton products contained some GM material. As a result it lost half a mark under the Controversial Technology category.

Reference:

www.morrisons-corporate.com (16 January 2019)

In 2019, Pesticide Action Network UK conducted a survey to investigate what supermarkets were doing to minimise the harmful effects of pesticides on the environment, wildlife and human health. PANUK ranked the top ten UK supermarkets based on eight areas related to pesticides. They were ranked out of 4, where 1 was 'lagging behind', 2 was 'could do better', 3 was 'making good progress' and 4 was 'outstanding'.

Morrisons came seventh in the supermarket rankings and overall were scored in the 'could do better' category. None of the supermarkets received the score 'outstanding' overall. The scores for Morrisons were broken down as follows:

Supporting suppliers - 2
Residues in food - 3
Highly hazardous pesticides - 2
Customer engagement - 2
Bees and pollinators - 2
Transparency - 1
Pesticide products - 1
Organic - 2

As a result Morrisons lost half a mark under Pollutions & Toxics.

Reference:

Ranking UK supermarkets on pesticides (28 January 2020)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Morrison's timber policy on its corporate website.

It stated, "At the heart of our approach is concern to ensure that the wood used in our products originates from responsibly managed forests, because we know that unregulated deforestation is a significant factor in climate change and the depletion of biodiversity."

"Our policy requires that all wood and wood derived products being contracted for sale must be FSC certified or from an approved alternative source if FSC is not available in sufficient volumes to be competitive."

The company's Corporate Responsibility Review 2019/20 stated that "In own brand household & beauty products 92% of wood and wood derived products were Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified, approved alternatives or recycled. In home & leisure 76% of own brand products were FSC or recycled.”

This was its progress towards its commitment that "All timber and timber derived own brand products must be third party certified sustainable."

Previously, the company had committed to buying timber and timber products from sustainable sources by 2020 and making its performance public. In its 2019/20 Report, Morrisons stated “We’ve launched a zero deforestation policy. This means we will not take products from areas which have been deforested or converted after 2018. Whilst effective immediately, we will work with our suppliers to ensure our own brand products are 100% compliant by 2025”

Ethical Consumer considered the following factors necessary for a robust timber sourcing policy (detailed below).
The ten issues were:
1. Having a timber sourcing policy that covers all timber and timber-derived products
2. the exclusion of illegal timber or that sourced from unknown sources and...
3. ...a discussion on how a company ensures/ implements this
4. clear targets for sourcing timber from sustainably managed sources
5. a discussion of a good minimum standard
6. preference given to certified sources
7. a discussion about tropical hardwoods (THW) and the percentage of THW sourced that are FSC certified
8. involvement with a multi-stakeholder initiative or bridging programme such as the World Wildlife Fund- Global Forest Trade Network
9. use of reclaimed or recycled wood/ paper
10. a high total percentage (50%+) of FSC certified timber sourced by the company.

Morrisons was considered to have met the following points: 1, 2, 3, 6. As the company met 4 of the above criteria, it received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for its timber sourcing policy.

Regarding point 5, although the company stated that it had a preference for certified sources, which could constitute a 'good minimum standard', it did not state what its minimum standard was for wood that was not certified.

Regarding point 10, Morrisons did not specify how much wood was specifically FSC certified (as opposed to other certifications). It stated that FSC was its preference and other certifications were only to be used if "FSC is not available in sufficient volumes to be competitive", but Ethical Consumer expected to see a complete breakdown of what percentage of timber products was certified by each certification body. Furthermore, in the company's 2018/19 Corporate Responsibility review, it gave a percentage figure for the amount of certified wood used in its own brand household and beauty products and own brand home and leisure products, but it was not clear whether these ranges were the only ranges which used timber or timber derived products. A total percentage figure for certified wood was therefore not provided.

As the company received Ethical Consumer's middle rating, it lost half a mark under Habitats & Resources.

Reference:

Corporate Responsibility Report 2019/2020 (2020)

In January 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed a story on the Guardian website titled, "Tesco and M&S likely to have soya linked to deforestation in supply chains." The story also included Morrisons.

The story stated, "Tesco, M&S and several other UK supermarkets admit that they cannot guarantee that soya from deforested areas is not in their supply chain despite commitments to phase out its use."

Morrisons was found to be buying products from UK farms using animal feed which included soya from Argentina. About 14% of planted soya in Argentina is in the north of the country where large amounts of deforestation have occurred. As there was no traceability system, according to Argentinian officials, for soya from deforested areas, it is possible that soya from these areas was finding its way into UK supply chains.

"Morrisons did not respond to Guardian queries."

As Morrisons did not have a robust system for ensuring that the soya within its supply chain was sustainably sourced, the company lost half a mark under Habitats & Resources.

Reference:

Tesco and M&S likely to have soya linked to deforestation in supply chains (5 October 2019)

It was reported in the Independent in May 2019 that major UK supermarkets were buying corned beef from JBS, a Brazilian meat firm linked to illegal deforestation in the Amazon.
Friends of the Earth found that Co-Op, Morrisons, Waitrose, Iceland and Lidl all sold corned beef from JBS. Morrisons, Lidl and the Co-Op sold own-brand products by JBS. Waitrose and Iceland sold corned beef by Princes with beef produced by JBS.

FoE investigators cross-referenced the product codes on the tins with regulatory documents and supply-chain websites, tracing the corned beef back to JBS slaughterhouses in Brazil.

At the same time, research group Earthsight said it found Sainsbury’s and Asda, as well as Morrisons and Lidl, still stocked JBS products. Sainsbury’s and Asda stock Exeter and Princes corned beef supplied by JBS.

Iceland, which sells corned beef by Princes, says: "Princes is confident that it does not source any product from sites that have been called into question by the investigation, and that any issues Friends of the Earth has identified are historical and have already been addressed by JBS.”

The world's largest meatpacker had a history of buying cattle from farms that were illegally deforested. In 2017, JBS was fined nearly US$8 million for doing that.
JBS has also been accused?of ‘cattle laundering’, a tactic by which farms with illegal deforestation move cows to legal farms that then sell them on to JBS.
Deforestation displaces indigenous communities that have lived in the Amazon for generations.
Rainforests are also habitats to countless wild species, many of which we haven’t even discovered yet. Some plant species could hold the key to curing life-threatening conditions.
And these forests absorb and store carbon dioxide (CO2), the main planet-heating gas that we urgently need to reduce. Cutting down the rainforests releases CO2 into the air, ramping up the climate crisis – and erasing wildlife from the planet.
The cattle industry is responsible for 80% of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon.

Reference:

Major UK supermarkets ‘buy corned beef from meat firm linked to illegal razing of Amazon rainforests

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer downloaded the Wm Morrison 2019 Annual Communication on Progress (ACOP) to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) from the RSPO's website and looked at the information provided on the company group's website.

98% of the total palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm oil derivatives used by the company was reported to be certified by the RSPO and 52% of this was through a segregated mechanism. The company picked up additional marks for disclosing volumes and having a group wide commitment. It was not conducting any additional positive initiatives regarded as significant and it did not disclose its suppliers.

It received Ethical Consumer's Middle Rating for its palm oil policy and practice and lost half a mark in the Palm Oil category.

Reference:

ACOP 2019 (9 January 2020)