From bananas and potatoes to salmon fillets, Tesco will soon be tracking the environmental impact of some of its most popular products, marking the first step towards its goal of halving the environmental impact of the average shopping basket by 2022.
In partnership with WWF, Tesco announced today it will apply its new 'sustainable basket metric' to a selection of popular foods from the beginning of 2020, and then track scores over time to measure the success of its sustainability efforts.
The metric will include a range of measures, from a food's climate change impact to its role in fuelling deforestation and its contribution to food and packaging waste. Criteria such as greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation will be weighted more heavily than other issues in determining a product's over-arching sustainability score, Tesco said.
"At Tesco we want to provide customers with good quality, affordable food that is produced in a sustainable way," said Tesco CEO Dave Lewis. "To help us achieve this we've partnered with WWF with the goal of halving the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket.
"Throughout our partnership, we'll be carrying out industry-leading work to make food production more sustainable, including sourcing commodities like soy and palm oil from verified zero-deforestation areas, and improving soil health and water usage on farms in the UK. Working together we can help to ensure the natural environment is protected for future generations."
The project will start by assessing a range of popular products, including bananas, salad tomatoes, clementines, potatoes, blueberries, iceberg lettuce, Tesco Diet Cola, semi-skimmed milk, free range eggs, Tesco Bourbon Creams Biscuits, and Tesco Just Ham Sandwich, among others.
Tesco said the findings will also apply to similar categories beyond those listed, such as other salad products or milk types. Food production is one of the largest contributors to climate change, as well as a major threat to soil, water, and air quality. Scientists agree that a major shift away from livestock farming, coupled with improved arable practices, is likely to be essential for staving off dangerous levels of warming - not least because of the need to free up land for forests and other carbon sinks.
Tesco has a Science-Based Target in place in line with a 1.5C trajectory, which commits it to cutting its direct emissions by 60 per cent by 2025 and its supply chain emissions by 17 per cent by 2030. It also aims to be a net zero emissions company by 2050.