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Sainsbury’s is committing £1 billion over twenty years towards sustainability initiatives across its own operations by 2040.

The retailer will use the £1 billion to implement a programme of changes, with a focus on reducing carbon emissions, food waste, plastic packaging and water usage and increasing recycling, biodiversity and healthy and sustainable eating.

As part of the initiative, the retailer will halve its plastic packaging by 2025, and by the end of 2020, dark coloured, hard to recycle plastic and polystyrene packaging from own brand ranges will be replaced with recyclable alternatives.

Sainsbury’s will also increase the use of recycling in its own operations and make it easier for customers and colleagues to recycle.

It also said it would work collaboratively with suppliers and will ask suppliers for their own carbon reduction commitments.

Outgoing chief executive Mike Coupe said: “We have a strong heritage of reducing our carbon emissions – we have reduced them by 35% over the past fifteen years despite the footprint of our business increasing by over 40%.

“We invested £260 million in over 3,000 initiatives over the last decade, including the start of our LED lighting programme and refrigeration. Over the next 20 years we will invest a further £1 billion in programmes that will transform the way we do business and put environmental impact at the forefront of every decision we make,” he added.

Simon Geale, senior vice-president at retail consultancy Proxima: “We are going to see more and more retailers undertaking significant programmes to reduce their carbon emissions, but they should be under no illusions about the complexity of the challenges they will face.

“Retailers need to understand that supply chains are both their greatest source of emissions, but also the most likely source of the innovation that will help them meet their ambitious emission reduction targets. This will mean partnering closely with some suppliers and overhauling the way in which others are chosen, managed and monitored. It’s not an overnight job and will require significant resource and focus.”