Like all other living things on Earth, our own survival is inextricably linked to the health and well-being of our air, soil, water and the natural habitat. Yet our planet is experiencing significant man-made degradation that threatens our own eventual extinction.
With every passing day preserving nature and natural capital becomes increasingly important. As a part of the world’s largest food and beverage supplier, it also becomes increasingly crucial for safeguarding our supply of raw materials and the future of our business.
Forward thinking about the environment
Too often, in the past, we’ve addressed sustainability concerns with too simple an approach, focusing on just one element, such as carbon-based outcomes or air pollution.
But by considering the interaction of the elements – of carbon reduction, water stewardship, habitat / biodiversity and air quality – we’re finding that we can deliver greater sustainability faster and on a larger scale.
Greater than the sum of its parts
As we’ve come to regard the Earth’s ecosystem as a whole, and make interventions that recognise the interconnectedness of the natural world, we, and our suppliers, have seen real improvements in productivity, profitability and sustainability of the natural landscapes that we rely on.
Healthy soil is the basis of healthy food. But it’s also an important part of a healthy landscape.
We’re working with farmers, suppliers and other organisations to promote regenerative agriculture practices. These include better paddock management and silvopasture – integrating trees into areas where livestock forage – and switching to organic fertilisers. These measures are helping to improve the nutrient uptake and fertility of farmland as well as its ability to store carbon and retain water.
Water is a shared and precious resource, essential for life. Communities need water to survive and thrive. Business also depends on water.
Since 2018 we’ve not used any river water for our factories in the UK. We’re also working to maintain watersheds by replenishing 100% of the water we use. We do this through locally tailored solutions that also reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These include investments in nature-based initiatives, such as wetland restoration and water conservation programmes. We’ve committed to certify all water sites globally to the international Alliance for Water Stewardship (AWS) Standard, which also covers the right to safe water and sanitation of communities.
Biodiversity describes the variety of plants, animals, insects, genes and ecosystems on our planet.
A diverse habitat plays an important role in sustainability – crucial for pollination, health of the soil, genetic variability, protection of watercourses and as a counter against carbon emissions and climate change. Healthy ecosystems can better withstand natural and man-made disasters, such as insect infestations, flooding and fire.
We all like to breathe fresh air. That applies to plants and trees too. Ground-level ozone can reduce crops and wild vegetation and limit the growth of tree seedlings. It can also increase plant susceptibility to disease, pests and other environmental stresses, such as harsh weather.
As one of the sectors most affected by climate change, we’re searching for new ways to reduce carbon emissions and improve air quality. Many of our solutions are nature’s own – agroforestry, soil management, restoring peatlands and forests to lock greenhouse gases in the ground.
As 95% of our own greenhouse gas emissions come from activities in our supply chain, we’re concentrating our efforts there.
Working with nature
We’re working collaboratively with a wide range of partners, including individual farmers, other companies, academic institutions, NGOs and governmental organisations to:
- improve and protect the health of natural habitats
- focus on shared water resources
- eliminate deforestation from our supply chain
- improve soil management
- protect the oceans
- preserve biodiversity.