UK Better Retailing Climate signatories pledge 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020 

By Janaina Topley Lira, Mar 05, 2014, 18:31 3 minute reading

The UK retail industry has collectively signed up to a new set of ambitious targets for reducing its impact on the environment as part of the ”A Better Retailing Climate” initiative. At the beginning of 2014 British Retail Consortium (BRC) members pledged to reduce emissions from refrigeration gases by 80% by 2020, relative to floor space, and to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 25 per cent by 2020.

First set up in 2008, the A Better Retailing Climate committed businesses representing the majority of the UK retail market to sector-wide green goals. Having exceeded all the targets, including cutting greenhouse gas emissions from supermarket refrigeration by 55%, the BRC has set new targets to ensure the retail sector is able to meet the 80% emissions reduction target set by the UK Climate Change Bill.
Pledge to reduce emissions from refrigeration gases by 80% by 2020
According to the BRC report “A Better Retailing Climate: Driving Resource Efficiency” unless action is take to reduce the use of HFCs, their total warming potential will rise from 1.5% today to between 9-19% of total greenhouse gases by 2050.
Supermarket signatories to the BRC initiative are thereby committed to reducing emissions from refrigeration gases by 80%, and begin phasing out HFC refrigerants by 2015. This latter target reflects the fact that many UK supermarkets are already committed to begin the phase-out of high global warming potential (GWP) refrigerants by 2015 as part of the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) pledge.  
Supermarkets will address emissions by:
  • Phasing out HFC refrigerants
  • Switching to natural gas refrigerants with a lower GWP
  • Setting internal targets on reducing refrigerant leak rates
What UK retailers have already achieved
Retail giant Tesco has already started to install natural refrigeration systems using carbon dioxide instead of HFCs. Tesco already has over 140 of these systems in its stores from the UK to Asia, including the first systems to be used in supermarkets in China. 
Since 2010, M&S, as part its Plan A sustainability programme, has also been introducing natural refrigerant systems to its new UK stores.
Another leading UK retailer, Sainsbury’s is considered a pioneer of CO2 transcritical refrigeration, with 167 stores using the climate friendly technology.
Pledge to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 25% by 2020
The target to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 25% by 2020 includes direct emissions across scopes 1 and 2 and is measured in tonnes of Carbon Equivalent (tCO2e). The target also does not allow energy consumption generated from renewable sources to count towards overall carbon reduction, making it much more challenging than the UK overarching target.
British Retail Consortium Director General Helen Dickinson said: "Retailers in the UK have made significant progress in reducing their impact on the environment. I'm delighted that the signatories are pushing themselves to achieve against even more ambitious commitments, having gone above and beyond the last set of targets.”
Other targets include:
  • Transport: reduce energy-related carbon emissions from store deliveries by 45% by 2020, compared to 2005 levels. Carbon emissions from stores were reduced by 13% between 2005 and 2013.
  • Water: measure water usage across sites collectively anticipated as accounting for 100% of usage by 2020 and set a reduction target when the targets are reviewed in 2015. In 2013 83% of water use was measured.
  • Waste: divert waste from landfill so that less than 1% of waste is landfilled by 2020. In 2013 BRC signatories sent 6% of waste direct to landfill.
A Better Retailing Climate is a voluntary initiative that sets out the collective environmental ambitions of a group of leading British retailers.


By Janaina Topley Lira

Mar 05, 2014, 18:31

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