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Tesco Zero Carbon Targets


Become a zero-carbon business without purchasing offsets.


As the UK’s largest retailer with a developing global presence, Tesco has committed to green growth. With a focus on energy between 2000 and 2008, the supermarket giant halved the energy consumption per square foot of floor space with an associated one-third reduction of emissions. On the back of this, in 2009 Tesco stated an intention to become a zero-carbon business by 2050, without purchasing offsets.


The initiative is driven by a collection of actions, including a hard target by 2020 to only build new stores with half the emissions of a typical 2006 store. These stores will rely on new technologies being trialled now, including sun-pipe lighting, renewable combined heat and power (CHP), harvested rainwater to flush toilets and run carwashes, the first ever LED car park lighting system and on-site renewable energy production. Some 614 UK stores have also been fitted with electronic energy boards showing staff at all levels, and in real time, if their store is operating in an energy efficient way and suggesting ways to improve results.

Carbon footprinting has been used to understand where impact hotspots were located – this involved Tesco working with those in its supply chain and carbon footprinting 1,000 products. A quarter of their carbon emissions resulted from hydrofluorocarbon refrigerants. The retailer has targeted minimising leaks and installing units with replacement, lower impact refrigerants. Since 2010 the group has sent zero waste to landfill. Logistics have also been made more efficient. Through double-decking truck trailers, packing goods more efficiently, relocating distribution centres, retraining drivers and diverting freight from road to rail, the CO₂ equivalent produced by each case delivered has been cut from 199g to 146g since 2005.

However the target to cut emissions from the manufacture and use of its products by 30% by 2020 is a perhaps the most significant. To reach this, Tesco is looking to work much more closely with suppliers. The 2degrees knowledge hub has been set up so that they can share ways of boosting their carbon efficiency with each other and Tesco has written to 1,000 key suppliers asking them to help identify carbon hotspots in the supply chain and provide data and examples of best practice. The plan is to start working with specific companies and sectors to agree carbon reduction plans.

The company is also investing £25 million over five years in Manchester University’s Sustainable Consumption Institute to fund research on climate change modelling, customer attitudes and supply chain innovation.


Engagement with customers and suppliers
Savings in energy and landfill costs
Significantly reduced CO₂ emissions

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