One of our larger clients at work is the COOP, they have been reinventing themselves over the last few years into a form more like their style from their past when they were local cooperatives. Their move back into the convenience market has been highly successful.
In addition to this they have also been growing their green and ethical roots and are now one of the best supermarket operators from this standpoint. However it appears that they are not looking to stand still and are looking to become far greener.
They aim to cut carbon emissions by 35%, increase Fairtrade product lines and invest £1bn in green energy.
The Co-operative Group is launching an ethical operating plan that it hopes will set a benchmark for corporate responsibility on carbon reduction, fair trade and community involvement.
The group, which employs 120,000 staff, also plans to increase its membership from 6 million to 20 million and double its support for green energy to £1bn. In addition, it will increase its involvement with schools and create 2,000 apprenticeships in the next few years, as well as invest £5m a year to tackle poverty around its stores and branches. (They already help local clubs and charities far more than any other supermarket chain).
The recession represents a major opportunity for the Co-op to grow by trading on its ethical traditions. Their view is that trust in business has taken a real knock in recent years as the credit crunch has caused people to seriously question the capitalist model. The mutual is an alternative business model which chimes with the times. People want a business they can trust, with a strong sense of social responsibility. This is the COOP’s historical model.
The most ambitious target is to reduce the group’s operational carbon emissions by 35% by 2017, which the Co-op claims is the most progressive policy of any major business in Britain. It will also reduce the environmental impact of its packaging and continue to cut down on carrier bag use (you already have to ask for bags).
There are also plans to increase the number of Fairtrade product lines. The Co-op says that by 2020 it wants 90% of its developing-world primary commodities to be certified as Fairtrade. Always a pioneer of Fairtrade, The Co-operative’s commitment to ensuring that virtually all primary commodities that can be Fairtrade will be Fairtrade sets the bar anew for the corporate world.
This is all good news for both the shopper and the planet – hopefully the other supermarkets will follow suit?