Driving efficiencies and championing water stewardship

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In May 2022, Waterscan and J Sainsbury’s plc hosted a working lunch for energy and sustainability managers to demonstrate how the responsible retailer is approaching best-in-class water stewardship. 

Sainsbury’s Sophie Coley, Group Utilities Manager, in conversation with Waterscan’s Managing Director, Neil Pendle, Account Manager Jessica Wyatt, Operations Director Barry Millar and Head of Sustainability Rebecca Gale, explored how and why water is embedded in the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy, Plan for Better and how high-quality data is unlocking progress.

“Water is one of six sub-pillars under Better for the Planet in our Plan for Better strategy, putting it on equal footing with environmental impacts that are more talked about, like carbon, plastics and waste. This gives water the focus that it needs within the business and signals that it should be treated in the same way as carbon – something that must be managed carefully. It’s not widely known just how critical some of our water supplies are, but we do all know the importance of preserving supply, so we are thinking about this now so that we can embrace future supply risks, evolve and adapt with them,” she said.

Sainsbury’s has already reduced its consumption by one billion litres of water a day (that’s 12.5 million full baths), since 2005. Progress was expedited by its move to Self-Supply, which, she said, had been ‘a gamechanger for us in terms of visibility and control.’

“Good quality data is the most important thing for me. Everything we are doing now stems from having the data to help us make decisions about how to move forward. It enables me to analyse, gain insight, plan for and ultimately achieve the best results for the business and for the environment.”

Sophie Coley, Group Utilities Manager

“Initially, our aim was water reduction, but we realised we could do better than that, so we moved quickly to water neutrality, with a goal to be water neutral by 2040,” she added.

This will be achieved through using the company’s new actionable water data to collaborate more closely with wholesalers and throughout its supply chain at catchment level, working on colleague engagement to drive awareness of risks and behaviour change, and by remaining externally accountable by maintaining its CDP A rating on water security.

Concluding the meeting, Waterscan Managing Director, Neil Pendle, thanked everyone for attending and commented on the importance of getting the basics right. “Data is key to this. It’s hard to begin with, but once you’ve got visibility and control, you can move onto interesting and exciting things and, as Sainsbury’s has amply demonstrated today, the returns and impacts are significant. I warmly congratulate Sainsbury’s on its success to date and on its ambition for water neutrality which I have no doubt is achievable.”

Read more about Sainsbury’s water journey here.

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