The Global View

Grocery chain aims to add 2 million trees to UK landscape

Now here’s a tree-planting programme that puts many other corporate “green” efforts to shame: the UK grocery retailer Sainsbury’s has announced plans to plant two million trees across the country over the next five years.

“Trees are at the centre of our food chain, so if we are to continue selling food of the variety and quality that we do, it is vital that we think long-term and protect a key raw material,” said Justin King, Sainsbury’s chief executive. “This new strategy will help us to focus on trees as a single issue and ensure that we remain industry leaders in preserving the UK and the world’s forests for future generations.”

The grocery chain made the announcement at the same time it released its corporate reponsibility report for 2010.

The new tree-planting programme is part of a three-pronged programme focused on forestry. The effort also aims to reduce Sainsbury’s need for tree-based products by reducing the amount of packaging it uses and boosting recycling, and to increase the chain’s targets for Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified timber and Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil-certified palm oil conversions.

The grocery chain has already planted some 250,000 trees through its partnership with the Woodland Trust, and aims to expand that effort to meet its new goal. It also expects to plant more trees indirectly through its woodland farmer-partners, who have so far planted 600,000 trees on farms across the UK, and will increase the number of trees planted in projects such as its concept orchards.

Other tree-related highlights from Sainsbury’s latest corporate sustainability report include:

  • The chain claims it’s the only UK retailer to sell Bramley apples grown on trees that are the direct descendants of the original Bramley apple tree;
  • It aims to be the largest user of FSC-certified cork in the world by early 2011;
  • It’s working with the Woodland Trust to provide Woodland Training days to British farmers; the training is designed will help farmers maintain their trees and reduce their carbon footprints.