Auchan Romania unveils its ambitious 2030 Climate Plan

Alina Oprea
By 2030, Auchan aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 46% compared to 2019, for Goals 1 and 2, respectively by 25% compared to 2020 for Goals 3, Products and Transport, says Corina Dospinoiu, Sustainability Director at Auchan Retail Romania. She talked to Green Forum about the 2030 Climate Plan and about the company's main sustainability targets. Auchan Romania is set to become a neutral company by 2043, on Goals 1 and 2. Corina Dospinoiu also says that Auchan supports the local economy and Romanian producers, with over 85% of the products on the shelves in the company's stores coming from suppliers in the country. Food waste is the number zero priority as a food retailer, which the company pays special attention to, she mentioned.

What does ESG mean for your company?

Sustainability is strongly integrated into the Auchan 2032 vision, the company's mission, and strategic plan. ESG standards are therefore a must-have that we use to accurately measure the results we achieve in our non-financial activity. Last year, Auchan Retail International was ranked in the top 150 companies worldwide and 3rd in Europe among food and non-food retailers, as assessed by Moody's ESG Solutions for performance based on environmental, social, and governance factors. The independent assessment led Auchan Retail to an A1 sustainability rating based on an overall score of 62/100, which is an increase of 13 points in one year and 25 points compared to 2018. It focused on three main criteria: impact, risks, and management. For the impact, the actions aimed at energy consumption and CO2 emissions were analyzed, as well as social indicators, such as the number of women employed in management positions, the involvement in the health crisis, or the company's sustainability objectives. The management of risk situations was evaluated through the lens of challenges related to human resources, operational flows, or reputational risks. Management objectives were also taken into consideration for this certification. 

Also at the global level, in 2023 the objectives and action plans for decarbonization were validated by SBTi and CDP.

In 2022, we also published the company's second Sustainability Report, which includes qualitative and quantitative data on non-financial performance, the impact of the activity in the community, and the achievements of 2021, which is the voluntary way in which we decided to communicate transparently and make available to all stakeholders the results and impact of our actions in 2021 regarding sustainability in Auchan Romania.

What measures has the company taken regarding care for the environment and energy consumption?

In 2022 we finalized the 2030 Climate Plan, which brings together all our ambitions in the face of the great climate challenge. Practically, our entire climate strategy, part of the #nuepreatarziu umbrella, has become the foundation of our company project. We have integrated into each segment of the business strategy clear objectives, aimed at contributing to a more sustainable future, preserving the planet, and involving in this process both our customers and our partners, because only together can we achieve the transformation we want.

The Climate Plan focuses on 3 goals: refrigeration equipment, energy, transport, and products, and in order to set our goals correctly we started measuring emissions three years ago. Thus, by 2030, we aim to reduce CO2 emissions by 46% compared to 2019, for Goals 1 and 2, and also by 25% compared to 2020 for Goals 3, Products and Transport. We have also set Auchan Romania to become a neutral company by 2043, on Goals 1 and 2. To achieve these objectives, the 2030 Climate Plan focuses on 4 areas of action: energy, refrigeration equipment, transport, and products. In terms of energy, we plan to reduce stored energy consumption by 40%, use 100% renewable electricity by 2030, and even aim to become a renewable energy producer. 

In addition, as part of the new vision for 2032, we have finalized the Energy Policy, whereby we aim to reduce carbon emissions on Goals 1 and 2 by 46% by 2030 compared to the level of 2019. Goals 1 & 2 refer to greenhouse gas emissions from refrigerants and energy, associated with the operation of stores. We have also committed to obtaining ISO 50001 certification for all Auchan Romania hypermarkets and supermarkets by the end of 2023, which will allow energy efficiency to be measured and improved through an integrated energy management system.

What are the company's main sustainability targets?

The sustainability strategy is outlined around ESG indicators, with clear priorities on both the environment and the social and governance impact. The Climate Plan is a strong plan to decarbonize products and operations, through which we continue to invest and make major efforts to protect the environment and the planet. Another priority was the preparation for the implementation of the SGR at the national level, and now we continue to offer our customers circular economy solutions, as we have done so far through other projects such as the recycling of used oil, the recycling of textiles or through the project "A new life". We also continue to support the communities we are part of.

What percentage of your suppliers are local?

Auchan supports the local economy and Romanian producers, over 85% of the products on the shelves in our stores come from suppliers in the country, both in the food and non-food segments, and the food range is formed in proportion to over 90% of products from Romanian companies. Moreover, on the shelves of Auchan stores, there are currently over 1100 own-brand products, of which approx. 700 are made in Romania, with local producers. 

Which are the most important sustainability projects the company is currently undertaking?

Recently, we implemented a project with a major impact on the community and set up collection points with RVM (reverse vending machine) automatic devices in the parking lots of our stores or on their premises, where customers can recycle three types of packaging: cans, aluminum cans, and bottles. This project comes in preparation for the guarantee-return system that will be implemented at the national level. We have thus created a very good opportunity for as many people as possible to test and get used to such a system for the systematic recycling of beverage packaging. We also plan to prepare the production of green energy in our stores, through a partnership we have at an international level, with Helexia. 

At the same time, for Goal 3 of the Climate Plan, related to products, we will continue the development of plant-based protein product ranges and efforts to inform and engage customers in the adoption of responsible consumption. Local producers will be favored for the creation of a supply chain as short as possible, as well as the construction, together with local suppliers, of ways to decarbonize products, in particular, those of the supply chain and own brand. For this initiative, the main levers of action consist in building an eco-design of products, the use of renewable energy, combating food waste, product effectiveness, and circular economy, and setting new standards in the future for sustainable practices in agriculture. 

Besides the 'E' (environmental), social (S) is also an important component of ESG. What's your company's approach to the ‘S'? What social initiatives were the company and its employees involved in in 2022 and what programs do you have planned this year?

One of the most important social impact programs implemented within the company is the Personal Sustainability Program (PSP) through which we offer all our more than 7,000 colleagues the opportunity to actively engage in sustainability and social responsibility actions. They directly contribute to supporting social causes, as well as reducing the effects of climate issues, the carbon footprint, food waste, and plastic overuse. For example, last year we had over 55 internal projects organized by the company, as well as personal actions of Auchan Romania employees, with a total of 6300 CSR and sustainability actions registered.

At the same time, we also frequently organize a series of donation campaigns through which we support the community where it is needed. One such example is the campaigns that have as their symbol the Titi Beaver, a plush toy, dedicated to good deeds and with the help of which, in the last two years, Auchan has contributed financially with over RON950,000 (€190,000) to social projects focused on education and protecting the environment. With the most recent action that had Titi Beaver as its main character, Auchan donated over RON450,000 (€90,000) to the NGO Viitor Plus for carrying out planting actions on degraded lands in Romania. 

What's your strategy for decreasing food waste?

Food waste is the number zero priority as a food retailer, which we pay special attention to, having a big impact on business, the environment, and from a social point of view. This is how the Zero Waste project was born, which represents our most important digital solution, based on AI, with the aim of combating food waste. It allows better valorization of food with a reduced life cycle while offering Auchan customers favorable prices on many fresh and consumer products, but also more purchasing power in an inflationary context.

In 2022 alone, we managed to save more than 6 million products through this program, with hundreds of thousands of customers benefiting from the project. In addition, Zero Waste also made an important contribution to creating a cleaner environment by avoiding the production of more than 6,677 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Not only the customers got involved in large numbers in the project, but also the Auchan Romania employees. Internally, Auchan employees are constantly informed about the results achieved, the innovations implemented, and the positive impact the project creates. They were very excited about the program from the beginning and responded positively, as a result, every day, they all voluntarily participate in the fight against food waste. 

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Green Forum  |  17 May, 2024 at 9:00 AM