Tesco Ireland – Little Helps Plan
Business Name: Tesco Ireland
Sector: Grocery Retail
No. of Employees: Over 13,000
Does your company/organisation have a CSR Strategy? Yes
Tesco is one of Ireland’s largest private sector employers, with more than 13,000 colleagues working in our 151 stores, head office and distribution nationwide. Our communities are central to our business ethos, and we source from over 490 Irish food and drink suppliers, supporting almost 14,000 farm families nationwide.
Our sustainability and CSR strategy - our Little Helps Plan - sets out how we make a big difference to our colleagues, stakeholders, communities and the planet. It is the framework that shapes our long-term approach to sustainability. The Little Helps Plan enables us to demonstrate, monitor, and improve our performance within our own operations and the wider supply chain, as we aim to tackle some of the biggest social and environmental challenges facing the world today.
We know that our business success is interlinked to that of our communities, stakeholders and partners, and we are very aware of the dependencies and interactions we have across a multitude of issues. We continue to monitor the global forces and customer trends that are changing the retail landscape, recognising that the future of our business depends not only on the decisions and actions we take, but also on the world around us and our ability to adapt.
Under the framework's four pillars: People, Product, Planet and Places, our ambition is to make a difference in relation to key social and environmental issues such as diversity and Inclusion, healthy and sustainable diets, climate change and food poverty.
There are three values underpinning the plan:
- No one tries harder for customers
- We treat people how they want to be treated
- Every Little Help Makes a Big Difference.
All of our colleagues in Tesco aim to live the values in the Little Helps Plan – it is the commitment and drive of all of our colleagues that make it a success. Our plan is governed through our leadership team and Head of CSR, and key leads for each pillar of our plan work right across our business to ensure our approach is fully embedded.
Financial investment is necessary to drive change, particularly in areas such as Climate Change (e.g. energy efficiency measures), Food Waste (investment in food surplus redistribution, such as through our partnership with FoodCloud) and more.
How have you communicated this activity?
Full details of our Little Helps Plan are available on our website. In addition, we regularly communicate on aspects of the plan on our social media channels and implement specific communications campaigns for colleagues and customers as relevant to particular initiatives.
Which of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) apply to your CSR activity?
In line with UN Global Compact guidance, we have identified which goals are particularly relevant to us: where expectations, risks and opportunities are greatest for us, and where we can make the most significant contribution.
The key SDGs to which our Little Helps Plan aligns are:
- SDG 2: Zero Hunger, through our work to minimise food waste and redistribute surplus from our business and work with our supply base to address food waste and loss at the source.
- SDG 3: Good health and wellbeing, reflecting how we support our colleagues to live healthier lives and help our customers make healthier food choices every time they shop with us. Aligned to this we have key ambitions to increase our % sales of healthy foods, drive increased sales of plant-based meat alternatives and continue making our own-label products healthier through reformulation.
- SDG 5: Gender equality, reflecting how we continue to build an inclusive culture where everyone has the opportunity to get on.
- SDG 7: Affordable and clean energy, reflecting the progress we’ve made to source 100% of our electricity from renewable sources.
- SDG 8:Decent work and economic growth, against which we’re working to help our colleagues succeed by providing them with the flexibility, skills and reward to ‘get on’ and also to ensure international human rights standards are respected at all our suppliers’ sites.
- SDG 12:Responsible consumption and production, against which we’ve mapped our ambitions to help halve global food waste, farm to fork, by 2030, and our 4Rs packaging strategy – to remove packaging where we can, reduce it where we can’t, reuse more and recycle what’s left.
- SDG 13: Climate Action, where we have aligned our carbon ambitions to meet the 1.5-degree trajectory of the Paris Agreement. We have committed to a net zero target of 2035 in our own operations, and 2050 in our supply chain.
- SDG 14:Life below water, to which we’ve mapped our ambition to sustainably-source all our wild seafood by 2030.
- SDG 15:Life on land, reflecting our ambition to achieve zero net deforestation in our supply chain by tackling key sourcing issues such as soy, palm oil and paper/wood.
Do you report on CSR in your Annual Report? Yes
Describe the benefits from engaging in CSR
As a leading retailer we acknowledge that we have an important role to play in minimising our environmental impact for the benefit of all. Present and future environmental and societal issues have the potential to have an impact on food production and stability, human health, transport, infrastructure and much more, and we want to play our part in reducing these impacts as much as possible.
Through our Workplace initiatives, we aim to create an inclusive culture at Tesco where everyone feels welcome, and support our colleagues with their mental, physical and financial health. We’re also aiming to create more equality within the supply chain. As a result of investing in our colleagues and their experience of working with us, we’re proud to have been recognised as a Great Place to Work for the past four years.
In our Marketplace initiatives, we aim to support the Irish agricultural industry by sourcing product locally to sell in our stores, collaborating and supporting them to tackle key issues like food waste and climate adaptation in order to develop a more sustainable sector. We also want to support customers to eat more healthily which will have long term benefits.
In the Community, through our programmes such as the Tesco Community Fund and our Charity Partnership with Children’s Health Foundation Temple Street, we can support those causes that matter most to our colleagues and customers and help hundreds of organisations nationwide to bring real, positive benefits to those in need. Our colleagues are incredibly engaged in this area, driving customer participation. To date they have raised over €21 million for Irish charitable causes in Ireland (since 2001), making Tesco one of the largest private fundraisers in Ireland.
In terms of Environment, by working towards achieving science-based targets aligned to the Paris Agreement, we can minimise our environmental impact. We have committed to a net zero target of 2035 in our own operations, and 2050 in our supply chain.
Describe the overall impact on your business?
We’re really proud to have received the Great Place to Work accreditation for the fourth year in 2021, and to be recognised as one of Ireland’s Best Workplaces for Women for three years running.
Business in the Community Ireland (BITCI) is a non-profit business network that encourages corporate social responsibility and sustainability. We are one of few retail companies to have received the BITCI Business Working Responsibly Mark in recognition of our commitments to sustainability and CSR.
Four dimensions of CSR – Environment, Community, Workplace and Marketplace.
Our Little Helps Plan has four key pillars:
- People – Tesco colleagues and the workers in our supply chain
- Serving customers with affordable, healthy and sustainable Product
- Supporting communities in Places where we have a stake, and
- Working in a way that protects the Planet
As such, this Plan really does cover all of the CSR dimensions.
Our colleagues are the heart of the Tesco business. We believe that when they are at their best, they will be at their best for our customers. Therefore, helping our colleagues to live a healthier, sustainable lifestyle is a key element of our strategy.
Some elements of our Colleague Wellbeing programme include:
- Gympass: offering colleagues and their families discounted access to a network of gyms, studios and activities
- Our Employee Assistance Programme
- Free access to the Headspace app for all colleagues since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This programme is helping colleagues and their families understand what it takes to stay healthy, building a healthier and more engaged workplace.
Building on its achievements so far, we are continually working to enhance the programme, drawing on feedback from colleagues, to create and maintain a culture of wellbeing among our colleagues, one of the largest employee bases nationwide.
Diversity & Inclusion: Diversity and Inclusion has always been at the heart of Tesco. It’s described in our values and our leadership behaviours, and although our colleague surveys tell us we are doing the right things, we strive to be more inclusive and welcoming to everyone. We always want our colleagues to feel they can be themselves at work and to feel valued and respected, regardless of who they are, where they work and what they do.
Inclusion is vital to how we work. By valuing individuality and uniqueness, we create a sense of belonging and - simply put - we believe diverse teams make better decisions and create greater value.
Our goal is to build a workplace of equal opportunity, developing a diverse team representing our evolving communities and a company culture that builds self-esteem and celebrates our colleagues’ unique individualities. We are committed to making sure that our workplaces are not just diverse, but that they are supportive and inclusive too, and we're proud to have signed up to Business in the Community Ireland’s new Elevate Pledge. This aims to support businesses to build more inclusive workplaces, and has an ambition for a workforce that is representative of all members of Irish society.
We are also proud signatories of the Diversity Charter Ireland and the Valuable 500, as well as members of the 30% Club.
For the last three years, we have been named one of Ireland’s Best Workplaces for Women by Great Place to Work, and we are sponsors of the Dublin LBGTQ+ Pride Festival and the Cork Pride festival. Tesco is also a proud supporter of the Sunflower Lanyard Initiative. When customers wear the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower, it discreetly indicates to our colleagues in store that they may need additional support, help or a little more time, and colleagues in our stores are happy to assist. The lanyard can also be used by colleagues themselves who may need support.
Our community strategy focuses on bringing positive benefits to the communities we serve through three key activities; our surplus food donations programme, the Tesco Community Fund and our charity partnership with Children’s Health Foundation, Temple Street.
Surplus Food Donations Programme: At Tesco, we have no time for waste. We believe that it’s simply not right that perfectly edible surplus food should go to waste when there are people in our communities who need it.
As such, in 2013, we became the first retailer in Ireland to partner nationally with FoodCloud, an Irish social enterprise that links businesses who have too much food with those who need it most.
Working with FoodCloud, and over 380 local charitable groups, we redistribute surplus food at the end of each day to families in need in our communities. This food is perfectly edible but, because it is nearing the end of its use-by date, it isn’t put on sale the following day. Donations usually comprise a mix of fresh fruit & veg, bakery, meat and more.
Since we launched our national surplus food donations programme with FoodCloud, we have provided over 14 million meals to those in need, saving over 18 million kgs in co2 emissions
According to FoodCloud, this has enabled the charitable sector in Ireland to save over €17 million off their food bills to date, empowering them to invest into providing a greater level of support services in towns and cities nationwide.
Tesco Community Fund: The Tesco Community Fund was launched in July 2014 to support local good causes in the communities around each of our 151 stores throughout Ireland. Every eight weeks, each Tesco store donates up to €1,000 between three local good causes in its community. Since 2014, we have supported over 20,000 community projects nationwide - including schools, animal shelters, sports groups, elderly care centres, health organisations and much more – with over €5 million in donations.
As the situation with COVID-19 unfolded in 2020 and the Government and public health services identified the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions as ‘vulnerable’ in the crisis, we worked with our local store teams and Area Community Champions to identify the local good causes that represented these vulnerable groupings and targeted our supports towards them.
Using the Tesco Community Fund, we also demonstrated our important role in the community by supporting national charities. Working with Business in the Community Ireland, we identified ALONE, Age Action and Family Carers Ireland as three national charities helping those groups most in need during COVID-19. As a result, these three charities each received a donation of €50,000 in March 2020, helping them to continue to provide services to those most vulnerable throughout this crisis.
Charity partnership with Children’s Health Foundation, Temple Street: We have been partnered with Children’s Health Foundation Temple Street since 2014, and – since then - our colleagues have helped raise over €6.5 million for the hospital - making it one of the largest fundraising achievements in the private sector in Ireland. The charity partnership sees the funds raised by Tesco colleagues, customers and Temple Street supporters used specifically to help Children's Health Foundation Temple Street to purchase life-saving medical equipment for its patients. Throughout the course of the partnership to date, the funds raised have helped to buy over 330 pieces of vital equipment for patients, including ultrasound scanners, patient monitors and respiratory equipment.
We recognise climate change as the biggest environmental threat the world faces. We have a net-zero emissions target of 2035 for our own operations and a commitment to cut emissions -including those generated by the products we sell and across our supply chains - to zero by 2050, in line with the UN’s aspiration of keeping global warming below 1.5C.
Often referred to as Scope 3 emissions, our 2050 commitment will cover all emissions generated across our supply chain. This includes sourcing raw materials and food production, where emissions are generated through agriculture and manufacturing, and in the use of Tesco products, including food waste.
We have made significant progress towards our targets to date, reducing our energy consumption by 25% and cutting our carbon emissions by half. Some of the measures taken to date include:
- We have made significant energy efficiency upgrades to the fridge, lighting and heating systems across our stores. We have led the way in retail refrigeration by moving to phase out higher Global Warming Potential (GWP) refrigerant gases like 404a and replacing with lower CO2 impact gas 448a. We also installed Aerofoil Shelf Edge technology to transform the performance of fridges in stores.
- We source 100% renewable energy to power our network of stores, offices and distribution centre. We also produce energy via our wind turbine at our Distribution Centre at Donabate – this generates 1.5million KWh per year, of which 10% goes back to the national grid.
- As part of our partnership with Green Generation, who process our surplus food waste via anaerobic digestion, we have also become the first Irish retailer to purchase renewable gas made from our own surplus food to power stores. Green Generation process any food surplus - which is not donated to our surplus food distribution charity partner FoodCloud, or given free of charge to colleagues – and the outputs are fed into the gas network. We then purchase the renewable gas outputs via Naturgy, taking a circular economy approach to minimising our carbon footprint. Facilitated by Gas Networks Ireland, this will reduce our carbon emissions by 1,200 tonnes annually, with enough renewable gas created from our food surplus to power six of our stores in Ireland.
- We have implemented a new scheduling / planning system for Grocery Home Shopping introducing smarter routes for our vans, resulting in fewer miles travelled and fewer carbon emissions. Recent efficiency improvements made to the fleet of vans is predicted to result in annual reductions of 430 tonnes of C02 emissions.
- We support a network of almost 50 EV charging points at stores around the country, in partnership with ESB.
Packaging: Our target is to ensure we never use more packaging than is needed. Where we need packaging because it serves a clear purpose like reducing food waste or protecting a product in transit, we do our best to ensure that what we use is from sustainable sources and where possible, goes on to be reused or recycled. We’re a member of Repak, which has led the way in improving recycling levels in Ireland, and we are proud signatories of the Repak Plastics Pledge.
Our packaging plans are based on our 4R approach – Reduce, Remove, Recycle, Reuse. The 4R strategy is based on the following:
- Remove all non-recyclable and hard to recycle materials
- Reduce packaging where we can
- Look for opportunities to reuse packaging
- Ensuring all packaging is recyclable
This 4R approach allows us to deliver and communicate a clear message to our customers on our achievements - by applying the relevant ‘R’ logos to our packaging.
We have set challenging targets that will deliver a step-change in how much packaging waste we generate, and we have made significant progress to date, for example, we have:
- Removed plastic-wrapped multipacks, replacing them with plastic-free multibuys, removing 1.5 million pieces of plastic wrap each year from tinned tomatoes, tuna, sweetcorn etc.
- Achieved our goal to remove all single use plastic straws from Tesco own-label products by the end-March 2020. We also removed single-use cutlery.
- Removed 359 tonnes of PVC and 40 tonnes of Polystyrene materials from product packaging per annum, along with approximately 19 tonnes of MDF and 18 tonnes of plywood.
- We have worked with suppliers to introduce detectable black plastic trays - meaning that these black trays can now be detected in recycling machines and recycled. Approximately 448 tonnes of plastic are now converted to detectable black plastic, and we have replaced approx. 97 tonnes of black trays with recyclable clear trays where a detectable black tray could not be sourced, meaning almost 550 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic per annum is now recyclable.
In May 2021, in collaboration with our partners at Country Crest, we became the first retailer in Ireland to make our packaging for 1kg new season potatoes fully recyclable while also reducing the amount of paper used in our 2.5kg potato packaging. This move reduced the amount of paper used in our 2.5kg new season potatoes bag by 30% and removed almost 50,000 non-recyclable 1kg new season plastic bags from the waste system.
Soft plastics recycling: We are proud to be the first retailer in Ireland to create a recycling solution for soft plastics. Through in-store collection points in all stores, customers can simply remove unwanted soft plastic packaging - such as cling wrap or outer wrap from water bottle multi-packs - at the end of their shopping trip. Customers can also leave behind hard, recyclable plastic packaging, such as multi-pack fresh produce packaging, which will be recycled as normal.
Partnering with Irish manufacturing company, Paltech, these plastics will then be flaked and prepared for processing into construction materials to be used in our store network - for example as car-park barriers and signage. Waste plastic processed in this way has already been used to produce in-store collection points.
Support for Irish suppliers: Supporting Ireland’s agri-food sector is central to our business. Recent research shows that we work with 490 food and drink companies around Ireland and almost 14,000 farm families. It estimates that almost three-quarters of our 490 Irish suppliers are small and medium enterprises, with fewer than 250 employees. We are committed to sustainable practices within our business operations. All of the fresh chicken, beef, pork, lamb and eggs that Tesco Ireland sells are 100% Irish.
Health: Food is at the heart of our business and delivering affordable, healthy, sustainable food - to help customers, our colleagues, their families and our communities live healthier lives - is integrated into our Little Helps Plan. Through the products we sell and the way we sell them, we can help to make it easier to live healthily and promote wellbeing for all.
Our health strategy aims to:
- - Increase the % sales of healthy products to 65% by 2025
- - Increase sales of plant-based alternatives by 300% by 2025
- - Reformulate own label products to continue to make them healthier
Our approach is about making the healthy option easy and enjoyable for our customers and colleagues through helpful actions and advice. Some of the ways in which we're doing this include:
- We’re continuously working to reduce the calories, fat, sugar and salt and increase fruit, vegetable and fibre content of our products without compromising on taste or quality.
- We are promoting healthy alternatives to encourage customers to make better choices.
- We have taken steps to introducing leaner, healthier choices in our key categories, including Meat, Fish & Poultry, Bakery and Free From, our alternative range to help customers who have dietary needs such as coeliac disease.
- We were the first retailer to remove sweets and chocolate from our checkouts and will continue to maintain this initiative.
We have also recently partnered with the Coeliac Society to help them to promote greater awareness of coeliac disease and gluten intolerance.
Tips/advice for other businesses
As already mentioned, it is the commitment and drive of all of our colleagues that make our CSR activities a success. As such, advice for any business embarking on a CSR journey would be to involve all colleagues in that journey – collaboration with colleagues across all areas of the business, and an engaged workforce, are vital in making it a success.
Equally, collaboration with external stakeholders such as industry partners, Government and NGOs, to share experiences and lessons and receive feedback, helps to deliver more effective strategy.
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