Ahold Delhaize has moved up its net-zero carbon emissions target by 10 years.
The Zaandam, Netherlands-based global food retailer said Friday that the company and its brands now aim to reach net-zero carbon emissions across operations by no later than 2040 (Scope 1 and 2 emissions) and become net-zero businesses across their entire supply chain, products and services (Scope 3 emissions) by no later than 2050.
Previously, Ahold Delhaize and its brands — including Stop & Shop, Giant Food, Giant/Martin’s, Food Lion, Hannaford, FreshDirect and Peapod Digital Labs in the United States — have worked toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The new target date follows an update of the company’s health and sustainability goals in February.
In addition, Ahold Delhaize said it has joined the Business Ambition for 1.5°C, a global coalition of United Nations agencies, business and industry leaders, in partnership with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the U.N.-led campaign “Race to Zero.”
"We are committed to do our part and ensure we can keep serving our customers and communities in a responsible way." — Frans Mulller, Ahold Delhaize (Photo courtesy of Ahold Delhaize)
The goal of a “1.5°C future” is to limit the worldwide temperature rise to 1.5°C to lessen the impact of global warming. Similarly, the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), aims to help give companies a clearly defined pathway to cut greenhouse gas emissions, help prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future-proof business growth.
“As a 150-year-old company, we are committed to do our part and ensure we can keep serving our customers and communities in a responsible way for the next 150 years,” Ahold Delhaize CEO Frans Muller said in a statement. “We believe we are taking the right steps, through stakeholder feedback and third-party recognition like the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, ranking us in the top 10% of companies, and from MSCI, recently upgrading Ahold Delhaize from an ‘A’ to an ‘AA’ ESG rating.”
Ahold Delhaize noted that its has adopted a systems approach to building a climate strategy based on Science Based Targets, as well as conducted in-depth research on the impact of climate change following recommendations from the Taskforce Climate Related Financial Disclosure (TCFD).
For Scope 1 and 2 emissions, Ahold Delhaize aims to reduce carbon emissions from its brands’ own operations by 50% by 2030 (from a 2018 baseline). More than half of the carbon emissions come from energy consumption, and over a third derive from refrigeration systems, the company said, adding that less than 10% originate from transport.
In response, Ahold Delhaize said its brands plan to improve their operations in the following ways:
• Replacing or retrofitting refrigerator systems with lower greenhouse gas alternatives, installing natural/hybrid systems and minimizing leakage from all systems.
• Accelerating the switch to renewable power, with a number of brands using 100% renewable electricity by 2023.
• Building and remodeling stores in the most energy-efficient way, such as by installing LED lighting, adding doors to refrigerators and improving insulation.
• Switching to low-carbon heating, including heat pumps and heat recuperation.
• Converting the light and heavy transportation fleet to zero-carbon alternatives, including battery electric vehicles (BEV), and leveraging route optimization technology and improved fill mechanism to scale back overall energy use.
• Applying an internal carbon price model into investment proposals from its local brands.
In addressing Scope 3 emissions, Ahold Delhaize said its brands have committed to long-term Science Based Targets to reach a net-zero value chain by 2050. According to the company, the biggest opportunity to reduce carbon emissions in Scope 3 is in agriculture, where the retailer’s brands focus on partnering with farmers by incentivizing sustainable change through longer-term contracts with concrete environmental requirements on and co-investments in their farms. Ahold Delhaize said a detailed plan for Scope 3 will be released within the next 12 months.
Ahold Delhaize’s local brands work with thousands of farmers and suppliers who create hundreds of thousands of products,” stated Daniella Vega, global senior vice president of health and sustainability. “We consider this a huge responsibility and a huge opportunity. The brands can drive supplier engagement and work with them to protect and restore forests and other ecosystems.”
Ahold Delhaize added that its health and sustainability strategy is based on the idea that the climate crisis and well-being are “inextricably linked,” with healthier food choices often being more environmentally friendly options. The company said a more balanced diet and more sustainable shopping baskets help reduce carbon emissions, improve soil health, mitigate deforestation and increase biodiversity.