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Environmental And Social Policies Of The Co-Op Supermarket

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Executive Summary

This report looks at how effective the current environmental and social policies and practices of the Co-op supermarket are. It also presents recommendations on how the Co-op could improve on their current policies and practices.

This report aims to state clearly the environmental and social policies of the Co-op supermarket and how they could improve on their current practices.

This paper uses relevant academic models and theories which the Co-op supermarket can be applied to. An academic article has also been used.

In this report it has been found that the Co-op supermarket comply with the regulations set by the government, but also are self-regulated, which appears to give them a competitive advantage. It seems that the Co-op benefit from being proactive towards the ecological environment and social environment, resulting in them being ahead of the competition.

1.0 Introduction

Following the change in the Earth over the last two decades, it has become apparent that organisations need to take responsibility for their part in the detriment of the environment. In order for them to prevent harming the environment further, they need to take action. An organisation who already has a proactive stance on this issue is the Co-op group. Not only do they conduct business in an environmentally friendly manner, they also hold high ethical values; this is important for the stakeholders, and furthermore, the organisation itself.

The objectives in this report, is to discuss and analyse relevant environmental and ethical issues. In order to generate a greater understanding of the topics discussed, the use of an organisation will be used and applied so that the theories and models can aid the understanding of the environment and ethics in a real-world situation. In this report the Co-op will be used, however, as the Co-op is highly diversified, they have many different services such as banking, pharmaceutical, funeral services to name a few. As the different services are in a range of industries, it would be more incomprehensible to look at environmental and ethical issues in all of these industries; consequently, the Co-op supermarket will be used individually.

As there is a wide range of environmental and ethical topics that could be reviewed, this report will focus on green technology and waste minimisation, corporate environmental strategy, and

The discussions and analyses will be backed up by applicable models and theories, taken from academic literature and relevant websites. The Co-op's annual reports will be used along with further information from other sources.

2.0 Green Technology and Waste Minimisation

It has become apparent that industry needs to install cleaner technologies to minimise waste. This can contribute to sustainable development and according to Porter and Van Der Linde, in their article Ð''Green and Competitive', they state that properly designed environmental standards can trigger innovations that lower the total cost of a product or improve its value. This means that cost savings will be created for the organisation. This conflicts with traditional views, that being greener has a detrimental effect on organisations' competitiveness, consequently, the economic performance of organisations is affected negatively due to high initial costs of implementation (e.g. the expense of a new filter which reduces the number of harmful waste products into the air) and lesser quality of products due to restriction on components used, therefore fewer sales, resulting in a less competitive organisation.

The Government policies on waste include to recover 50% and recycle 25% on packaging, effective from 2001 ( The Co-op claim to have set these targets before they were implemented by the government, therefore the Co-op is self-regulated, further evidence of this is that the Co-op's packaging is degradable, as are their carrier bags (which produce waste in the form of litter pollution), although this is not yet a legal requirement, the Co-op are recovering waste in the way that they are not harming the environment through pollution which can harm species and damage habitats.

Figure 2.1 Waste Management Hierarchy

(Welford and Gouldson, 1993)

Figure 2.1 shows the steps in dealing with waste. This could be applied to the Co-op in many ways. They reduce waste in terms of CO2 emissions produced. In 2004 they redeveloped their depot and distribution network to create a more effective system, reducing the distances travelled. This has enabled the Co-op to remove a number of vehicles from its fleet, with savings of Ð'Ј360,000 ( Not only does this reduce the harm to the environment, it also creates savings for the Co-op because fuel costs are reduced. A number of the Co-op's vehicles use compressed natural gas fuel, this reduces the harmful waste products emitted in to the air such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide that fossil fuels would emit. This also means that the earth's scarce resources (oil) are being protected.

The Co-op state that their model stores far exceed the government best practice figures for reducing waste. The stores' energy consumption is 8% below the DEFRA benchmark for a good practice supermarket ( The Co-op has achieved this through innovations such as installing dimmable lighting in the stores, being Ð''pressure-tested' to prevent unnecessary heat loss through air leakage, efficient refrigeration was introduced, and high levels of thermal insulation were added to other equipment. Here, not only is the Co-op saving energy which helps the environment, but they are making cost savings through lower utility bills.

The Co-op recycles its waste products; the paper wasted in the head office is used to make products, such as toilet tissues and kitchen rolls, which are then sold through co-op stores ( This is a closed-loop system, which means no waste. This creates cost savings for the Co-op stores in the way that they will not need to buy more paper to produce their products.

At the Co-op, since 1988, the recycling symbol has been used on certain goods and the recycled content is detailed on packaging.



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