Waitrose and Lidl named as most eco-friendly supermarkets

Which? Study looked at plastic and food waste as well as greenhouse gas emissions

Laura Hampson
Friday 04 February 2022 11:53 GMT
Lidl and Waitrose named as most sustainable supermarkets in UK in new ranking by Which?

Lidl and Waitrose have been named as the most sustainable supermarkets in the UK in a new ranking by Which?.

The consumer watchdog has released its eco-friendly grocer ranking, which looks at supermarket policies on food and plastic waste as well as greenhouse gas emissions.

After Lidl and Waitrose - who tied for first place both with a 74 per cent score - Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco placed in the top five, while Morrisons, Aldi, Co-op, Ocado and Marks and Spencer completed the top 10.

Iceland was placed at the bottom of the list, at number 11. The reason for this, Which? said, was because it was “unable” to report how much of its own brand plastic was recyclable.

Other factors working against Iceland is that it is a frozen food specialist so its in-store freezers meant it scored lower for operational greenhouse gas emissions. However, the supermarket said it does buy 100 per cent renewable electricity for its UK stores.

The ranking is the first of its kind, Which? said, as shoppers are looking to make more eco-friendly choices during their grocery shops.

“We know that consumers increasingly want to shop sustainably and our in-depth analysis of three key areas shows that all the big supermarkets could be looking to make some improvements,” Harry Rose, editor of Which?, said in a statement.

“The good news is shoppers can make a big difference themselves by adopting more sustainable habits, such as buying loose fruit and vegetables, buying seasonal local produce, eating less meat and dairy and limiting their own food waste.”

Which? noted that while Lidl performed highly for its greenhouse gas emissions score, its food waste score lacked. It said this is due to Lidl serving more fresh food in store than other comparable shops.

Waitrose was ranked highly for its strong policies on food and plastic waste and Which? said it scored reasonably for its greenhouse gas emissions too.

M&S was ranked second to last on the list due to its larger use of plastic compared with other supermarkets. It was also unable to provide its food waste data in a comparable format

Co-op was ranked the best for plastic use while Ocado was named the best for food waste as it redistributes all of its surplus food.

The top eco-friendly supermarkets, according to Which?

1. Lidl – 74 per cent

1. Waitrose – 74 per cent

3. Asda – 71 per cent

3. Sainsbury’s – 71 per cent

5. Tesco – 69 per cent

6. Morrisons – 68 per cent

7. Aldi – 66 per cent

8. Co-op – 65 per cent

9. Ocado – 63 per cent

10. Marks & Spencer – 48 per cent

11. Iceland – 29 per cent

Richard Walker, Managing Director at Iceland said: “Iceland does not recognise the data used by Which? or accept the low ranking on sustainability that the magazine has accorded us. Far from ‘work[ing] with the supermarkets to acquire the most accurate and comparable data available’, as they claim, Which? have chosen to ignore repeated warnings by us and our legal advisers that their methodology was completely flawed.

“Their calculation of carbon intensity grossly misrepresents Iceland because it is based on retail spend rather than sales volumes, penalising supermarkets that sell at low prices. It also fails to take account of our 100 per cent usage of renewably generated electricity. Their calculation of plastic intensity is equally incorrect, and bears no relation to our own audited and published data on plastic usage, which is used to calculate the packaging taxes we pay.”

He continued: “We have taken a global lead in committing to plastic neutrality, the removal of plastic packaging from our own label range, and achieving net zero carbon emissions from all our operations by 2040.”

A spokesperson for M&S told The Independent: “This research is one industry benchmark based on certain criteria and our ranking does not fairly reflect our sustainability ambitions or achievements to date. We are committed to building a sustainable future. That’s why we recently reset Plan A, our sustainability action plan, providing a detailed roadmap for reducing our emissions, the use of plastic and minimising food waste across our entire business.

“In our quest to become a fully net zero business by 2040, we have already made progress. From removing over 3,000 tonnes of packaging since 2018 to redistributing more than 36 million meals through our longstanding partnership with Neighbourly, each day we are working to rapidly cut our footprint.”

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