Retail Sector (Energy Efficiency)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 10th March 2015.

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Photo of Graeme Dey Graeme Dey Scottish National Party

I thank members who supported the motion that has allowed this debate to take place, and those who have remained here to participate in it.

The Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee has highlighted repeatedly in its work on tackling climate change and driving down emissions that Scotland will achieve its ambitions only with societal and individual behaviour change. Parliament setting targets and the Government introducing initiatives are all well and good, but without genuine buy-in we are up against it. To get that buy-in we need exemplars of environmentally responsible practice at community level, and across the public and private sectors. That is why I am pleased to introduce the debate and why I commend the efforts of the Scottish Retail Consortium’s membership, as highlighted in the report “A Better Retailing Climate: Driving Resource Efficiency”. Promoting good practice is an integral part of ensuring that we very quickly reach the point at which behaving in an environmentally responsible way is seen as the norm, and doing otherwise is seen as unacceptable.

Let us look at what the SRC’s membership has delivered across the UK and then consider what it plans to achieve by 2020. Targets that were signed up to in 2008 and which have been exceeded include cutting energy-related emissions from buildings by 30 per cent, cutting greenhouse gas emissions from supermarket refrigeration by 55 per cent, cutting energy-related carbon emissions from store deliveries by 29 per cent, cutting the proportion of waste sent to landfill from 47 per cent to 6 per cent and increasing water measurement in sites from 50 per cent to an estimated 83 per cent.

New targets for 2020, which use 2005 figures as their baseline, include reducing absolute carbon emissions from retail operations by 25 per cent, cutting energy-related emissions from buildings by half, reducing emissions from refrigeration gases by 80 per cent, reducing carbon emissions from store deliveries by 45 per cent, measuring 100 per cent of water usage on sites and sending less than 1 per cent of waste to landfill.

It is worth while to peer behind those headlines and to consider the specifics of what has been taking place. Let us look at Asda. Carbon emissions from existing stores, offices and depots are down by a third since 2005. It aims to have 30 per cent of its energy sourced from renewables by the end of 2015 and it is on target to reduce energy consumption in existing stores by 35 per cent this year. It has reduced its packaging by 27 per cent since 2007 and is travelling 18 million fewer road miles than were travelled in 2005. Despite opening 150 new stores over the period, Asda saw a 15.8 per cent absolute reduction in its carbon footprint across the UK between 2007 and 2012. The figure in Scotland is 17 per cent.

Despite increasing the space that is taken up by its UK-wide operations by 46 per cent, Sainsbury’s energy usage in 2013-14 remained the same as it was in 2005-06. Sainsbury’s aims to supply electricity for all 86 of its Scottish stores from renewable sources by 2020. As of 2012-13, no waste goes to landfill.

The Co-op has a target to reduce emissions by 50 per cent by 2020. By 2013 some 98 per cent of its electricity came from renewable sources and it aims to have by 2017 25 per cent coming from its own renewable sources, which will be up from 7 per cent two years ago. The Co-op discovered during a trial in 2011 that it could reduce total store energy use by 20 per cent if it fitted doors to its fridges: 298 of their stores, including those in Carnoustie and Monifieth in my constituency, now have those, and it is planned to increase the number to 2,000 stores by 2020.

B&Q has reduced its carbon emissions by 29 per cent since 2006 and aims to get to 90 per cent by 2023, partly through using double-decker trailers to reduce total road miles. Waitrose’s suppliers deliver to a central hub in Cumbernauld rather than distributing products around all six supermarkets in Scotland. Greggs has installed photovoltaic systems in 10 of its bakeries, including in its bakery at Clydesmill in Cambuslang.

W H Smith is sharing vehicles with other retailers. McDonald’s is recycling cooking oil and is turning it into biodiesel for use across 40 per cent of its fleet, which saves about 6,000 tonnes of carbon per annum. It has also reduced the size of bun-tray liners by 10cm, which is saving over 85 tonnes of paper each year, and by redesigning the boxes for one of its most popular lines, and the spoons that are given out for consuming ice cream, it is saving 800 tonnes of materials every year.

I note, as the motion does, the efforts of my constituent Peter Stirling who grows sprouts and strawberries just outside Arbroath. Mr Stirling was recognised by Marks and Spencer for his outstanding contribution to sustainable farming with its farming for the future produce award for Scotland 2014 at last year’s Highland Show after he invested in biomass boilers for his greenhouse blocks and in innovative techniques to extend produce’s shelf life and reduce waste.

Of course, tackling food waste is very much a stream of the work that is being undertaken by our retailers. I will highlight two examples, both involving Tesco. In conjunction with Glenrath Farms of Peebles, it has been trialling a new type of recyclable plastic packaging to restrict seepage from broken eggs to the pack in which the eggs are contained. It believes that if the measure was rolled out for all its free-range eggs, it would potentially save an average of 1 million eggs each year.

In addition, Tesco has launched a new zip for frozen-pea packages, which it believes could save an estimated 35 tonnes of peas from rolling out of the bag and into the back of the freezer or on to the kitchen floor and going to waste.

That is real action to deliver real change across a sector that has clear plans to build on what has been delivered. The retail sector has looked closely at how it operates and has moved to reduce that environmental impact. Of course those concerned have cut their overheads as a result, but that is part of the behavioural change message for organisations as well as individuals. Change behaviour and one’s pocket and the planet both benefit.