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Sainsbury's pledges to invest £1bn to hit 'net zero' emissions target by 2040

The supermarket's target of 2040 is a decade earlier than the UK’s legal goal. Photo: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Sainsbury’s (SBRY.L) has announced a pledge to tackle climate change by investing £1bn ($1.3bn) towards hitting its “net zero” emissions target by 2040.

The supermarket’s goal of 2040 is a decade earlier than the UK’s legally binding target to cut the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Sainsbury’s says its pledge follows ambitions in the international Paris Agreement to limit temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The company plans to switch to more renewable energy, make fridges in its stores and warehouses as efficient as possible, and run 20% of its fleet on zero- and low-carbon fuels by 2025. Other plans include switching all lighting in stores to LEDs by 2022, as well as continuing with tree planting work.

READ MORE: Tesco to stop using plastic-wrap for multipack tins in stores

The amount of water used by the retailer will be reduced by fitting stores with rainwater harvesting facilities, decreasing the amount of water used in toilet facilities, and recycling water from ice on fish counters and car washes.

The supermarket giant has also pledged to reduce plastic packaging by half by 2025. Sainsbury’s says it will have removed all hard to recycle “black” plastics and polystyrene packaging from own brand ranges, as well as scrapping plastic wrap on fruit and vegetables where possible, by the end of this year.

Some stores are also piloting a deposit return scheme for plastic bottles.

The retailer also plans to cut food waste by half by 2030 and is expanding the meat alternatives it sells, as part of its pledge to increase healthy and sustainable eating.

Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury’s, said: “Our commitment has always been to help customers live well for less, but we must recognise that living well now also means living sustainably.

“We have a duty to the communities we serve to continue to reduce the impact our business has on the environment and we are committing to reduce our own carbon emissions and become net zero by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Government’s own targets, because 2050 isn’t soon enough.”

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He said Sainsbury’s had already reduced carbon emissions by 35% over 15 years, despite the carbon footprint of the business growing by 40%, and had invested £260m in more than 3,000 green initiatives over the last 10 years.

“Over the next 20 years we will invest a further £1bn in programmes that will transform the way we do business and put environmental impact at the forefront of every decision we make,” he pledged.

The pledge comes days after supermarket rival Tesco announced it was removing plastic wrapping from all its multipack tins as part of a pledge to cut down on plastic waste.