Posted: Tue 26th Jul 2022
Supermarket chain Sainsbury's is to invest £5 million in start-ups that can help it achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2035.
The grocery company has partnered with Williams Advanced Engineering (WAE) to look for small businesses commercialising innovative, sustainable technologies that reduce operational carbon emissions and water usage.
Over the next four years, up to £5 million will be invested into early-stage companies not limited to the Sainsbury's supply chain, across a range of sectors. The first investment is expected to take place before the end of 2022.
Sainsbury's says in 2021/22 it reduced greenhouse gas emissions within its own operations by 20% compared to 2018/19. It aims to be net zero by 2035.
The supermarket has committed £1 billion towards its sustainability target. It said 70% can be achieved using existing solutions but a 30% gap remains where it needs to find new technologies and solutions.
In 2017, Sainsbury's began installing aerofoil technology in its store fridges. The energy-saving solution was developed in partnership with WAE and UK start-up Aerofoil Energy. The changes have led to an estimated 15% reduction in energy.
Tackling sustainability in the grocery sector
Patrick Dunne, Sainsbury's property and procurement director, said:
"We are committed to reaching our net zero target of 2035 and are proud to be doing our part in leading the way to create solutions that will reduce carbon emissions and water usage not just in our stores, but across the entire sector.
"We know that reducing emissions and water use is a critical part of tackling the climate crisis and to achieve this, we understand the importance of investing in pioneering technologies that can be adopted by all retailers."
"Tackling an issue of this scale requires collaboration and we’re really excited to not only invest in these businesses, but also provide a pathway to in-store use, working towards a more sustainable future for everyone."
Matthew Burke, director at Williams Technology Ventures, added:
"Embracing new and unproven technologies is a necessary requirement to meet net zero and many of these products and services will emerge from the technology start-up community. Sainsbury's Innovation Investments will accelerate the commercialisation of these technologies through the opportunity of investment, trial and deployment across Sainsbury’s vast estate and operations.
"In doing so it will act as a springboard for wider and rapid technology adoption by customers across retail and other sectors who all share common net zero challenges."
Sustainable start-ups can apply for funding now.
The Sainsbury's investment fund is the latest example of a large chain turning to small businesses for products and services to improve sustainability.
Last month, Marks & Spencer launched a competition for sustainable start-ups and in May environmental charity Hubbub partnered with coffee shop business Starbucks to provide £1 million in grants for alternatives to single-use packaging.
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