This month I visited Waitrose on Morningside Road to hear about the fantastic initiatives the company are taking part in. As you will be aware, Waitrose – as part of the John Lewis Partnership – is the only major UK supermarket that is co-owned by all their staff; in fact, the Partnership is the largest employee-owned company in the country.
Because they are owned by their Partners (employees) rather than shareholders, their approach to business is fundamentally different. Waitrose believe in championing local produce, treading lightly on the environment, helping people live healthily and treating people fairly, which includes investing in the communities in which they trade. They are working to make the business as sustainable as possible, for example:
- They buy green electricity
- Waitrose sends no food waste to landfill. All surplus food that is no longer edible (and so can’t be donated to charity) is used to make energy through ‘anaerobic digestion’.
- They use low carbon technology in their shops (lighting and refrigeration)
- They practise carbon offset (treeplanting with Woodland Trust)
- They are committed to local and regional sourcing
In addition, they also donate to local good causes every month through the Community Matters ‘green token’ scheme and also donate staff time, through the Partner Volunteering initiative.
It was a good visit to see what large businesses are doing in the local community and for the environment. I did make the strong case that they still use too much plastic wrapping. Let’s see if they improve as they committed to doing so in the coming months.