PLUS, the supermarket chain in the Netherlands, is a pioneer when it comes to improving sustainability. It was the first supermarket to stock climate-neutral certified coffee and tea, followed by bananas, pineapples, eggplants and oranges. In the near future, potatoes and stone fruit will also be added to that list.
PLUS’s ambition is to achieve a 25% reduction in the carbon footprint of its private label products by 2030. The supermarket chain has drawn up a ‘foodprint’ plan for the most important edible products. In doing so, it has gained insight into the main elements of the carbon emissions generated by its food range. Climate Neutral Group, part of Anthesis since 2022, assisted PLUS by looking at where it could achieve the greatest climate gains. Based on this analysis, PLUS selected a number of sectors to assign the highest priority to, such as fruit and dairy.
Based on this selection, we will be approaching the main suppliers together. We will check whether they have already drawn up a footprint and are working to reduce it, and where they may need help. ‘Our aim is to be aware of the footprint, reduction plans and climate-neutral certification ambitions of all major suppliers. In doing so, we intend to make our food range climate-neutral certified step by step,’ says Marlijn, Corporate communications and CSR manager at PLUS.
“We are proud of the fact that PLUS carries the largest climate-neutral range in the Netherlands”
Corporate communications and CSR manager, PLUS Supermarkets
Climate Neutral Group is also helping PLUS to gain clearer insight into the Scope 1 and 2 of its organisation, and to formulate a reduction strategy to address these. PLUS has already taken several major steps in the right direction, including an electric lorry and energy-neutral distribution centres, for example. ‘We feel that it is important for us to contribute to positive change where we can,’ says Marlijn.
Offsetting is the final piece of the certification programme and ensures that responsibility is taken for the emissions that cannot currently be reduced further. Both Fyffes and PLUS take that responsibility and invest in VCS-certified sustainable energy projects, such as renewable energy and forestry-related projects.
Climate-neutral certified bananas and pineapples
PLUS sources its bananas and pineapples via Fyffes. In 2019, the bananas supplied by Fyffes Benelux became climate-neutral certified, followed by its pineapples in 2021. Fyffes climate-neutral certified bananas can now also be found at Albert Heijn (the largest supermarket chain in the Netherlands), and other retailers ranging from Sweden to New Zealand are interested.
Here, we worked on a climate change risk assessment for the Fyffes Global sustainability team. We used this assessment to create an overview of climate risks for Fyffes as a whole, from its locations in Africa to Rotterdam. In 2023, we will be helping this fruit supplier to analyse its carbon and water footprints.
The Fairtrade and Climate Neutral Bananas project, which we worked on with PLUS Retail, Fyffes and SIM Supply Chain Management, was completed in the autumn of 2019. We used blockchain technology to make the banana production chain transparent. Consumers can see the route from the plantations in Colombia to the shelves of PLUS supermarkets via a QR code on the banana. They can also see what the CO2 emissions are. All bananas sold in PLUS supermarkets have been Fairtrade certified for 10 years and are now also climate neutral certified. By being fully transparent, PLUS lets people know where the bananas come from and gives them insight into everything that is being done for people, nature and the climate.
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