New climate change initiatives from European retail co-ops

Coop Sweden is constructing a solar-powered goods terminal and Coop Denmark is setting climate targets for its main suppliers

Two new green initiatives have been announced by retail co-ops in Europe, Coop Sweden and Coop Denmark.

Coop Sweden says it is working to make its new fully automated goods terminal in Eskilstuna as sustainable as possible, with its trains solar powered as well as the depot.

“Our electric Coop train will arrive at the terminal with goods several times a day and with our own photovoltaic system, we will largely be able to run the terminal with electricity from the sun,” said Örjan Grandin, CEO of Coop Logistik.

The solar cell plant will comprise approximately 14,400 solar panels on an area corresponding to 38,000 sq m – making it Sweden’s second largest roof-built photovoltaic plant.

The solar panels will be CFP-certified (carbon footprint), a certification based on carbon dioxide emissions for the entire life cycle of the solar system. Most of the production takes place in Norway with recycled silicon from Norway and silicon from Germany and the USA. Coop Sweden says these solar cells have a much lower climate footprint in comparison with those from China that are commonly found in the solar cell market. 

Construction work on the new new goods terminal started in 2020 and it is expected to be fully operational in the summer of 2024. The photovoltaic plant is expected to be completed in early 2023. Half of the plant’s electricity needs will be covered by the photovoltaic plant, the remaining electricity will be purchased from renewable energy sources.

Meanwhile Coop Denmark has released a new set of climate-related requirements for all its major food suppliers, commiting them to ambitious targets for the groceries they deliver to its stores.

It will primarily apply to the more than 50 suppliers who deliver goods worth approximately DKK 100 million (€13.4 million) per year and more.

Coop Denmark says it is the first food retailer in the country to have its climate action plan approved by the International Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), which is in line with the Paris Agreement. Its largest suppliers will now need to adapt to the requirements of SBTi by 2025.

In addition to reducing the climate impact from Coop’s own operations by 91% by 2030, Coop’s climate plan also includes reductions in emissions from the entire value chain, including food production.

The requirements for suppliers that supply goods worth less than DKK 100 million per year will set at a later date, the retailer added.

The move is “a historic commitment”, said Coop Denmark executive vice president Per Thau. “The biggest climate impact in Coop’s overall value chain stems from the production of the foods we sell. 

“In our climate plan, we have set goals to reduce this impact by 16%, measured in absolute reductions, by 2030. Some of our major suppliers have already committed themselves through SBTi, and others have set their own climate targets. We recognise the great work that food suppliers are doing both at home and around the world to reduce their climate impact, but with this announcement we want to send a signal in the market that in future it will be a prerequisite for the major producers to deliver food to us.”