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Tesco Reveals New Plans to Axe Toxic Chemicals, Slash Building Emissions

While UK supermarket giant Tesco has focused the majority of its sustainability efforts on slashing food waste, the company is now setting its sights on reducing impacts across its F&F clothing line. The retailer has announced that it is joining Greenpeace’s DETOX campaign in an effort to phase out the use of toxic chemicals in its own-brand clothing label’s supply chain.

Tesco will work with Greenpeace and its complete supply chain to ensure zero discharge of hazardous chemicals into the environment by 2020.

As part of its commitment, Tesco has devised a seven-part action plan, which covers:

  • Supply chain disclosure, including publication of the company’s Restricted Substances in Textiles, Leather and Footwear List and Manufacturing Restricted Substances List, in addition to information regarding the current use and discharges of hazardous chemicals
  • Development of elimination policies for hazardous chemical groups, alkylphenols and their ethoxylates and perfluorocarbon/polyfluorinated compounds
  • Deployment of recycling/take-back schemes, consumer awareness campaigns and closed loop strategies that encourage responsible consumption or living
  • Self-reporting on DETOX commitments

The company has pledged to implement the plan within six to 12 months of the publication of the commitment.

Greenpeace launched its DETOX campaign in 2011 to encourage brands to eliminate toxic chemicals across the value chain. The initiative has been backed by 80 international brands and suppliers, including M&S, Aldi, H&M, Lidl and Levi Strauss. DETOX committed companies now represent 15 percent of worldwide textile production.

“The Detox standard is the new industry baseline — in only six years, forerunners of the textile sector went from total denial and opacity of their supply chain to transparency and the banning of all hazardous chemicals. Tesco’s commitment shows the rest of the industry that using hazardous chemicals is not an option anymore,” said Kirsten Brodde, Detox Campaign Project Lead for Greenpeace Germany.

The announcement builds on Tesco’s recent responsible sourcing commitments, which include a move to 100 percent sustainably sourced cotton. The retailer is already on track to ensure that 70 percent of its cotton is sourced from Better Cotton Initiative farmers by the end of 2017.

But Tesco’s Detox Commitment is only a sampling of the sustainability efforts the retail giant is rolling out. The company has also announced its involvement in the Innovation Gateway, an alliance of organizations working together to adopt innovative solutions that reduce the environmental impacts of their buildings.

By joining the group — of which Heathrow, Kingfisher, RBC and the University of Cambridge are members — Tesco aims to target efficiency improvements in energy, water and waste, particularly in the areas of lighting controls, air conditioning and heat reclamation.

“At Tesco, we want to continue to play our part in combating climate change. Our work includes deploying innovation to reduce energy use across our estate. Wherever appropriate, we will share our experience and learn from other companies and organizations through the Innovation Gateway. We hope this exchange can be a real benefit to each company and increase our impact in addressing climate change,” said Kené Umeasiegbu, Head of Climate Change and Sustainable Agriculture at Tesco.

Following the Paris Climate Agreement, Tesco outlined new science-based targets, which have since been approved by the Science Based Target Initiative, that will enable it to meet its zero-carbon ambitions. The company aims to achieve absolute reductions based on 2015 levels of 35 percent by 2020, 60 percent by 2025 and 100 percent by 2050 and secure 100 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

Since 2007, Tesco has invested more than £700 million in energy efficiency improvements, leading to a reduction of 41 percent per square foot and putting the company on track to achieve a 50 percent reduction per square foot of store by 2020.

“It’s fantastic that a company with Tesco’s depth of experience is taking a lead in sharing all the innovative work that it has done to reduce energy, waste and water across its portfolio,” said Henry Majed, Director of Partnerships at Innovation Gateway. “This partnership reflects how important it is to leading organizations internationally the need to reduce environmental impact and drive innovation to combat it. By working with Tesco, we can help drive cross industry improvements with tangible benefits to our environment.”

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