Playing our full part
The planet is facing a climate emergency and we acknowledge our responsibility to do everything we can to reduce our environmental impact.
We want to make Greggs a carbon neutral, zero waste business. We actively support the British Retail Consortium’s Climate Action Roadmap which aims to make the UK’s retail industry net zero.
In addition, we’re reducing our use of packaging, looking at how we can apply ‘circular economy’ thinking to our business, and working with our suppliers to make efficient use of resources.
We will be a net zero carbon business
Our Net Zero Taskforce is challenging the climate impact of every area of our operations and driving action to reduce it. We aim to be Net Zero by 2040 - a decade earlier than the UK government's plan.
We are building the shops of the future
The design of our shops and the equipment we use within them are a key focus as we look for ways to reduce the environmental impact of our operations. Our new Eco-Shop format gives us a platform to develop and test solutions to minimise our impact on the environment by cutting our waste, energy and water usage. By 2025, 25% of our shops will feature elements from our eco-shop ‘store of the future’ design.
We are using less packaging
We have pledged to cut the weight of packaging we use by a quarter. That includes not only what our food and drinks come wrapped in and the bag a customer uses to carry them out, but also our secondary packaging that’s used to bring our products into shops.
The Greggs Pledge
Download our 2022 progress report
In 2021, we launched The Greggs Pledge, setting out ten commitments to help make the world a better place. Read more about our progress in our latest report, published April 2023.
Net Zero carbon
We aim to be Net Zero by 2040 – a decade earlier than the UK government’s plan for all emissions including our value chain.
The climate emergency requires swift, radical action so we have set up a Net Zero Taskforce to challenge the climate impact of every area of our operations and drive action to reduce it.
Our carbon footprint
We started thinking about carbon back in 2010 and, by 2015, had reduced the carbon intensity of our business by around a quarter. Since then, we’ve held the Carbon Trust Standard in recognition of our ongoing efforts to reduce carbon from our own operations.
Electricity use makes up around 60% of our footprint, so reducing its impact was a priority. We now only purchase green electricity from the grid and, where we rent our properties, are in discussions with the building owners to switch their electricity supplier to a carbon neutral source too.
Gas is more challenging as green gas is less widely available but – given it represents 10% of our direct footprint – we are determined to either stop using it or switch to biogas. For instance, as we refit shops, we’re switching over to electric systems for heating and water. Our goal is to be using 100% renewable energy across our operations by 2025.
Around a quarter of our direct carbon footprint is caused by our delivery and vehicle fleet. We aim to move to a net zero fleet by 2035 and, in the meantime, are making our logistics as efficient as possible, by training our drivers to use fuel efficiently and looking for ways to do things differently – for instance, we have started using double-decker trailers for transporting goods from our Balliol factory, meaning we can move 70% more with every journey.
The final 7% of our direct footprint is caused by the refrigerants we use in our refrigeration plants and to cool our shops and sites. We are working with our refrigeration suppliers to explore how we can replace high GHG refrigeration gases, and, when we need to replace old freezers, are swapping them for a new model which is significantly more carbon efficient.
Understanding carbon in our supply chain
It is relatively straightforward to estimate the carbon footprint of our own operations – we use data from our electricity and fuel bills to do that. Calculating embodied carbon – the carbon that was caused through growing our ingredients and transporting them to us – is a little more complex. But it is important that we do so because Scope 3 emissions represent more than 90% of our total carbon footprint.
We worked with the Carbon Trust to measure our Scope 3 carbon footprint – that is, emissions that occur either upstream or downstream of our own operations – and are using the results to help us build our long-term reduction framework. Around three-quarters of our Scope 3 footprint comes from product-related goods and services – in other words, ingredients and packaging – with meat and dairy products alone representing half so engaging with these suppliers is a priority.
In the meantime, the introduction of our new vegan products is helping to normalise a diet that contains less meat, something we know an increasing number of our customers are interested in.
During 2022, our Net Zero Taskforce worked with the Carbon Trust to set near-term science-based emissions reductions targets. These have been approved by the Science Based Target initiative (SBTi), and they contribute to the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
These targets are:
To reduce absolute Scope 1 and 2 Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 46.2% by 2030 from a 2019 base year; and
To reduce absolute Scope 3 GHG emissions from purchased goods and services by 46.2% within the same timeframe.
We now have a clearly defined pathway to our net zero goal. The UK government is aiming for the country to be net zero by 2050 but we plan to be there by 2040 for both direct and indirect emissions.
Building the shops of the future
The design of our shops and the equipment we use within them are a key focus as we look for ways to reduce the environmental impact of our operations.
Every year, we open new shops and refit existing ones, and are embracing these opportunities to rethink our approach.
We have designed a Greggs Eco-Shop
We have created a template shop design with sustainability at its heart. The shop will act as a test bed for things like recyclable flooring, cistern-less and air assisted toilets, eco-ovens, heat pump air curtains and solar control glass. All of the initiatives are focused on waste management, water reduction or overall energy reduction.
The first Greggs Eco-Shop opened in 2022, built using our new template. We have set up metering on every piece of technology so we can collect data on how well each item performs. Those that do well will then be added to our standard new build and refit templates. In this way, tried and tested eco technologies will steadily be added across all our shops. We are aiming to apply what we’ve learned to at least a quarter of our estate by 2025.
We love discovering new ideas
We’re eager to try out all kinds of ideas and technologies to reduce the environmental impact of our shops. We have enlisted the support of external experts in this area, Innovation Gateway, so we can quickly identify the interventions with the potential to have the most impact. With their help, we have begun by looking at how we control and monitor the energy we use, and how we might introduce more automation, meaning things are switched off when they aren’t needed.
It not just about the tech though; for the shop fit out – meaning the layout, design and furniture – we are working with Quantum4, a sustainable design agency, to think about the sustainability and recyclability of every element.
Using less packaging
We have pledged to cut the weight of packaging we use by a quarter.
That includes not only what our food and drinks come wrapped in and the bag a customer uses to carry them out, but also our secondary packaging which is what we use to bring our products into our shops – most of which remains behind the scenes. Some packaging is essential – it keeps our products intact, safe and fresh, and makes them easier to consume or transport – but we want to make sure we’re never using more than is needed.
We are using less, and choosing better
Unnecessary single-use plastics were the first to go: we either stopped using them (for instance, using tongs to pick products up, rather than a clear plastic ‘lifting sheet’) or we replaced them with a more sustainable alternative (like the paper bags that replaced our old plastic carrier bags). We then went after other forms of unnecessary packaging.
We’re are also using better materials: packaging which has a lower impact on our environment. For instance, all the paper or cardboard we use for our own brand packaging comes from sustainable sources (as certified by PEFC or FSC).
We have committed to make sure that all the plastic packaging we use for our own-brand products contains 50% recycled content by 2025. We have already achieved that for our own-brand drinks bottles and are now working on our salad and fruits pots and exploring the best approach for our bread bags and shrink wrap.
We work with Biffa, our main waste contractor, who help us to better understand the UK’s recycling infrastructure so we can do our bit to increase recycling rates by making packaging that is easier to collect and sort.
We are improving packaging design
Another aspect we are considering is how much space our packaging takes up. It may sound unimportant, but it can help us reduce our carbon footprint by allowing us to get more goods into each lorry journey. For instance, We’re looking to replace our cup holders with a flat-packed version and are changing the format of our doughnut trays to allow us to fit more on each pallet.
Wherever you buy your coffee, it will almost certainly be served in a plastic-lined paper cup which only a few UK recycling centres can currently process. One of the biggest challenges of coffee cup recycling is getting the material back so we can send it to one of these recycling centres. Our Eco-Shop design includes a coffee cup recycling station to overcome this.
We are members of Valpak’s coffee cup recycling group and are working with our industry peers to try to increase the number of coffee cups that get recycled.
As well as trying to fix the nation’s recycling infrastructure, We’re also eager to support the use of reusable cups: anyone who brings their own cup gets 20 pence deducted from the cost of their hot drink.