The Co-op and Marks & Spencer are today named as the UK's "greenest" supermarkets in a new survey which rates retailers' progress in areas such as sustainable and ethical sourcing.
As households stock up for the festive season, Ethical Consumer magazine urges shoppers to cut the environmental cost of Christmas by shopping from retailers with a proven track record of pursuing "green policies".
The environmental and ethical performance of 19 of the country's leading supermarkets and convenience stores were scrutinised in the survey, included detailed analysis of the companies' corporate social responsibility reports.
The results reveal a clear divide between the top two performing supermarkets – the Co-op and M&S – and the other 17 companies.
Policies praised at these two major high street chains include the Co-op's fish policy, whose goal is to operate its fish-sourcing policy in line with the aims and objectives of the Marine Stewardship Council. The Co-op also sources 98% renewable electricity in its 5,500 sites across the UK.
M&S was highly praised for its palm oil policies. It now stipulates the use of sustainable palm oil in many of its own-brand goods and is advised on the issue by WWF. M&S also scored well for its climate change policies which include a target of using non-crop derived biofuels in its fleet of vehicles.
Rob Harrison of Ethical Consumer, and co-author of the buyers' guide, said: "If you're lucky enough to live close to a local independent shop that has an ethical stocking policy then this is where we would recommend people to shop. However the reality is that the vast majority of us now shop in supermarkets and we would therefore urge shoppers to choose either the Co-op or M&S."
He went on: "These two companies have made genuine efforts to reduce the environmental and ethical impact of their operations and have demonstrated that they are setting the environmental agenda for supermarkets."
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