Midcounties beats its targets on climate emissions and food waste

The society reports a 32% reduction in GHG emissions on 2019, and a 21% reduction in controllable food waste

Midcounties Co-op says it has exceeded its sustainability commitments as it continues to make progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and food waste.

Last year, the society agreed sustainability-linked finance targets with its banking partners – which, it says, ”means that working to create a fairer, more sustainable, and ethical future is at the core of how the society does business”.

The banking targets are focused on reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and food waste across the society’s operations and include reducing direct GHG emissions by 40% by Jan 2026 compared to 2019 and reducing controllable food waste by 30% over the same timeframe.

Midcounties’ phased target for the 2023/24 year was to reduce direct GHG emissions by 25%, and food waste by 20%.

It says it has exceeded both targets with a 32% reduction in GHG emissions compared to 2019, and a 21% reduction in controllable food waste compared to 2019.

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The GHG emission reduction was achieved through measures including helping colleagues to adopt more sustainable behaviours at work, investing in replacing refrigeration units in 50 stores and introducing LED lighting in 139 stores.  

The co-op adds that improvements in operational processes and a partnership with Too Good To Go, which allows customers and members to purchase “surprise bags” of discounted food that may otherwise have gone to waste, have reduced the number of food waste items across its stores by over 600,000 compared to 2019 levels.

The sustainability linked targets also take in the society’s more complex indirect GHG emissions – known as scope 3 emissions, including those associated with its products and services. Midcounties became one of the first UK co-op consumer retailers to Science-based Targets Initiative (SBTi) validation for its plans to reduce these emissions, in January 2024.

In recognition of these efforts, Midcounties has been shortlisted for several awards this year – including Retailer of the Year at the UK Green Business Awards. Younity, the society’s joint venture with Octopus Energy to support community energy producers, has also been recognised with nominations at the Better Society Awards 2024 and The British Renewable Energy Awards.

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Pete Westall, chief values officer at Midcounties, said: “Working to build a fairer, more sustainable, and ethical future has always been at the heart of how our society operates, and we wanted to go further to embed this in every element of how we do business. That’s why agreeing sustainability-linked finance targets with our banking partners last year was so important and will help to ensure we continue to make progress in reducing waste and emissions.

“We’re proud to have exceeded our targets to date and be recognised with these awards nominations. I want to thank all of our colleagues, members and customers who have helped us to deliver these achievements. But we also know that the hard work doesn’t stop here, and we remain laser-focused in making further progress and driving positive change across our business and in our communities.”