Sustainable food

Written evidence submitted by Waitrose

Waitrose and Sustainable Development

· We have a sustainable construction framework - a checklist of criteria we must consider before starting a new building project this ranges from using certified timber to maintaining the biodiversity of an area.

· We have a target for a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) excellent rating for new build stores. This looks at the energy performance of every aspect of a building - from the materials used in the roof to the materials used in the floor. Our new branch at Westfield Stratford will have an ‘outstanding’ rating as we will use Westfield’s on-site energy centre to power the branch.

· We will shortly become the first retailer to operate its own energy centre to meet all of our branch’s electricity, heating and cooling requirements as well as making surplus energy available to the local community when available. The first centre will open in the Isle of Wight in December followed by Bracknell in early 2012. Our aspiration is to deliver 150 energy centres over the next 10 years.

· We have reduced the carbon footprint of our branches by up to 69% through the development of a new refrigeration system and our sustainable construction practices.

· The John Lewis Partnership has set an absolute carbon reduction target, committing us to a reduction in operational CO2 equivalent emissions by 15%, against a 2010/11 baseline. We have a programme of investment to achieve this which includes using gas as road fuel (subject to the Government’s commitment to advancing and incentivising the use of gas as road fuel) and diverting more waste from landfill (local authorities only collecting residential waste currently presents a challenge).

· We believe that the National Planning Policy Framework should foster genuine sustainable growth. As well as this, we believe it should support a Town Centres First policy and the Competition Test. This would secure the future vibrancy of the nation’s town centres and mean that the planning process would consider competition in the local area when assessing supermarkets’ applications for sites.

Sustainable Food Production

· We invest a great deal of effort into working with our suppliers to enhance food security. At Leckford this includes our commitment to integrated farm management though our partnerships with the Farming and Wildcare Advisory Group (FWAG) and LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming).

· The halt of the Higher Level Scheme (HLS) for farmers has presented a significant investment challenge to our farmers and affects the future viability of FWAG. This presents a significant threat to developments in sustainable production.

· On fresh produce we are currently undergoing a Farm Risk Assessment which will assess the impact our strategies are having on the environment.

· We have been through a similar process with Livestock and have identified a number of environmental risks that we will address. This has resulted in an action plan of environmental initiatives that have been developed with FWAG. They include carbon calculators, biodiversity questionnaires and a study on the use of solar energy on farms.

· We are currently involved in a three-year eco Pig Project to reduce the environmental impact of outdoor pig production. We have hit a number of the Project’s targets 18 months in and these are mostly in the areas of production and application of feed. For example all the feed at a Duchy Originals from Waitrose pig farm is leading a ground-breaking initiative to feed pigs from feed grown within 50 miles of the farm.

· Our WildCare scheme encourages the 60 members of the Waitrose dairy farmer pool to adopt farming practices that significantly improve conditions for wildlife across the UK. The scheme sets out environmental standards that will improve wildlife habitats, increase biodiversity and the numbers of species on each of the farms producing milk for Waitrose. WildCare’s principle focus is to create ‘wildlife corridors’ through the careful management of hedgerows, ditches, water courses and field margins, providing the necessary habitats for many species of plants, insects, birds and mammals to thrive. Participating farmers dedicate a minimum of 10% of their dairy farm area as wildlife habitat. There are many examples of the Wildcare scheme at Leckford and the farm is in the final for the Wildcare Farmer of the Year award.

Centre of Excellence for UK Farming (CEUKF)

· Waitrose joined forces with the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS) at Aberystwyth University and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB), in Cambridge to develop the Centre of Excellence for UK Farming (CEUKF).

· The centre - launched in February 2011- will provide a network of expertise to help ensure that the best information and advice on developments in science, innovation and practical know-how are accessible to provide real benefits across the supply chain.

· At the core of the CEUKF is the concept of Sustainable Efficient Production. This implies production of food and other agricultural products which at the same time meets both the needs for quantitative and qualitative supply, while minimising negative impacts on the environment and on the availability of resources.

· The Centre’s aim is to promote and highlight research and knowledge on improving sustainability while increasing output in farming and food production.

· The centre believes one key target should be the development of accessible, easy-to-use tools and indicators to allow farmers and food supply chains to adopt optimum practices and benchmark their achievements. To this end they are developing a Sustainable Efficient Production index, SEPi.

· In five years’ time, the Centre aims to have created a cluster of retailers, researchers and other delivery and beneficiary partners, who share a common vision: ‘ to ensure the UK is the best place to grow safe and nutritious food in the presence of climate change and other sustainability issues.

Food waste

· Our aim is to divert all our food waste from landfill by the end of 2012. We will achieve this using a variety of methods including Anaerobic Digestion (AD) and charitable donations .

· We are committed to reducing food waste in a way that is beneficial to the environment and the communities we trade in.

· Our AD scheme recycles food waste from over half of our estate into energy to power vehicles or provide electricity.

· Later this year we will launch a Branch Environmental Portal that will monitor key environmental measures at a local level. Amongst other vital information, this will give our branch managers full transparency of the food waste their branch is generating.

· It is a significant commercial and environmental priority for us to eliminate food waste. We therefore invest a great deal of resource into accurate forecasting. This includes monitoring the weather which has a significant impact on customer demand and therefore waste.

· As regards distribution and storage, we have a just-in-time policy for our fresh produce. This means that all fresh produce is sent to branches as soon as it arrives at our distribution centre. We also control and manage the temperature right across our distribution and storage processes to maximise the life of our produce.

· Most of our food waste is unavoidable, for example packaging damage can make food unfit for sale/consumption. Our aim is to dispose of this unavoidable waste in the most environmentally friendly way.

· An important part of our food waste policy is based on a local basis. If our branch managers can find a viable solution that meets the needs of a local charity and our operations, they will establish a process for donations. Examples included support for Food Bank and Fare Cycle. We also donate food waste to charitable animal organisations such as the Welsh Mountain Zoo.

21 September 2011

Prepared 18th January 2012