Sainsbury’s head of sustainability Paul Crewe believes the retailer’s commitment to using greener technologies can help it win customers from its grocery rivals.

Sainsbury’s head of sustainability Paul Crewe believes the grocer’s commitment to using greener technologies will help it win customers from big four rivals.

The supermarket giant is investing hundreds of millions into sustainable technologies and initiatives after agreeing a £200m ‘Green Loan’ last summer.

Sainsbury’s is using the cash to fund clean energy generation, energy efficiency and water saving projects, including LED lighting in its stores and the use of natural refrigerants to reduce carbon emissions.

“Customers are becoming more aware of what companies are doing to help the wider world.”

Paul Crewe, Sainsbury’s

Crewe, who spoke to Retail Week ahead of a talk at the three-day Sustainability Live conference at the NEC Birmingham next week, thinks Sainsbury’s green message is starting to hit home with consumers and could help the grocer grow its customer base.

He said: “I believe that customers are becoming more aware of what companies are doing to help the wider world.

“First and foremost we are doing this because it makes the right commercial sense, but secondly it is making an important, positive impact on the environment too.

“That’s coupled with the fact that within Sainsbury’s we have a number of initiatives that encompass waste, for example, which means that nothing from Sainsbury’s operations goes into landfill, it’s all put to good use.”

Crewe added: “Why I think we’re beginning to really resonate with our customers is because we are also helping them understand how they can help themselves to waste less in their own homes by helping to educate them on what they can do with leftovers – how they can make the roast go further on a Sunday and prolonging food by freezing it.

“Those types of focus are going to make a big difference in helping customers make their money go even further.”

‘Commercially imperative’

Sainsbury’s has put sustainability at the heart of its strategy, also implementing a range of in-store schemes geared at shoppers.

It has held events allowing customers to recycle Easter egg packaging, pumpkins and Christmas cards, while also handing out 130,000 free funnels for shoppers to collect fat used in deep fat fryers and when cooking roast dinners.

Crewe insisted that those projects were evidence that sustainability had never dropped off the radar for Sainsbury’s, even during the recession.

“I can only speak for Sainsbury’s but as far as we are concerned it never has whatsoever,” he said.  

“We want to be a sustainable business so we have to have sustainable operations – it’s commercially imperative.

“At board level this is absolutely recognised and is underpinned by a plan that was put in place in 2011 – our 20x20 Sustainability Plan.

“We need to make sure we continue to invest in the right areas to ensure that we are a sustainable organisation for the future.”