By Rosemary Garth, Communications Director, Tesco Ireland.
As a leading food retailer, responsible for over 45,000 jobs nationwide, including more than 13,000 colleagues working in stores, distribution and head office, Tesco is one of Ireland’s largest private-sector employers. In partnering with 500 Irish suppliers, our purchases of Irish agri-food support almost 14,000 farming families and help deliver more than €2.9 billion to Ireland’s economy.
We believe every little help makes a big difference. Our Little Helps Plan shapes our long-term approach to ESG, with four key pillars: People, Product, Places and Planet, which guides us in decision making for our colleagues, customers, communities, and planet, every day.
Our core purpose as a business, ‘Serving our customers, communities and planet a little better every day’ means that customers are at the heart of what we do, while also reflecting our responsibilities to the communities we serve, to the environment and to society more broadly.
We listen to feedback from all stakeholders and act on the things that matter most to them; providing customers with the best value and quality products, suppliers with great working relationships and fair payment terms, and community groups with the support they need to deliver their services nationwide.
We know that looking after our colleagues in a culture of trust and respect is essential to the success of Tesco. We support our colleagues to feel recognised and rewarded for the work they do together and in their development as they move through their careers – they in turn try their hardest for customers.
We are a proudly diverse and inclusive organisation and representing gender balance across our Board and at senior management in our business is important to us. As a signatory of the 30% Club in Ireland, we have committed to taking action to increase gender diversity in senior roles. Our Irish leadership team is 50:50 male to female, led by our CEO, Natasha Adams.
As a retailer, we’re prioritising our impacts on forests, marine ecosystems, farmlands and climate through the careful sourcing of products and ingredients. Tesco works with the Rainforest Alliance, focusing on conservation and high environmental standards in the sourcing of our bananas, tea, coffee and cocoa. In Ireland, Tesco sources all fresh beef, lamb, chicken, eggs and milk from Irish Bord Bia approved farms.
We minimise the impact of packaging through our 4Rs approach – Remove it where we can, Reduce the amount when we can’t remove it, Reuse more and Recycle what’s left. We are proud to be the first Irish retailer to provide customers with a soft plastics recycling solution in partnership with Paltech. Tesco customers can leave their soft packaging in-store, which Paltech turns into structures such as construction materials or gardening plant pots.
We have removed hard to recycle materials to ensure Tesco own-label product packaging will be fully recyclable by 2025, including 359 tonnes of PVC, 40 tonnes of polystyrene and 550 tonnes of non-recyclable black plastic.
Tesco is committed to the UN’s SDG 12.3 – to help halve food waste from farm to fork by 2030 and are working in our own operations and with our supply chain to achieve this. We are proud to be leaders on the food waste agenda in Ireland, working collaboratively from farm to fork to tackle such an important issue.
In 2014, we became the first retailer to partner nationally with Irish social enterprise FoodCloud to roll out surplus food donations from all our stores. This has resulted in almost 15 million meals donated to help those in need, reducing our carbon emissions by 20.6million kilos.
By focusing on tackling food waste, we have achieved a 20% reduction in food waste in our stores since 2016; and no waste has been sent to landfill from Tesco since 2009.
At Tesco, we are committed to minimising our environmental impact, working with our suppliers, partners, and wider industry to tackle climate change, reduce waste and protect nature.
Climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing the world today and the risks associated pose a serious threat, not only to our direct operations but to our supply chain too. That’s why Tesco became the first global retailer to set science-based targets for our own operations and for our supply chain, aligned with the Paris Climate goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. Our ambition is to reach net zero emissions in our own operations by 2035 and in our supply chain by 2050.
Working in partnership with ESB Smart Energy, we have reduced our energy consumption by 25% over the past seven years and established almost 50 electric vehicle charge points at stores nationwide.
To date we have halved our carbon footprint in Ireland by retrofitting our stores, distribution centres and head office with energy efficient technologies, implementing more environmentally friendly refrigerant gases and exploring opportunities for smarter logistics.
We want to help build thriving communities across Ireland by supporting the causes that matter most where we live and work, helping to feed those in need, and helping kids to lead healthier lives.
Through the Tesco Community Fund, in the past six years, we have donated more than €6 million to charities and community groups in cities, towns and villages nationwide, supporting over 21,000 community groups to date.
Thanks to the generosity of our colleagues and customers, over €7 million has been raised since 2014, for Children’s Health Foundation Temple Street, to purchase vital medical equipment for the little heroes in CHI at Temple Street.
Our partnership with FoodCloud has provided almost 15 million meals nationwide, helping to support those living with food insecurity. And through our new Stronger Starts programme, we’re helping kids across Ireland to have access to free, healthy and nutritious fresh foods each week.
We’ve also focused on diversity and inclusion within our own business and more widely with our customers. We want to ensure that everyone feels welcome at Tesco and have invested in training our colleagues to understand diversity and inclusion. We’re also proud to sponsor the Dublin and Cork Pride festivals.
We’ve taken steps to ensure our stores are places where everyone feels welcome to shop too, with colleagues all trained to support those with a visible or hidden disability through the Sunflower Lanyard programme.
Our business relies on productive economies, thriving communities and a healthy planet and we have a responsibility to make a positive contribution.
Every little helps.