Why Asda is proud to back award for corporate social responsibility
With 17 busy superstores across Northern Ireland and a workforce of around 4000 colleagues, Asda is widely recognised as an established part of the economic framework here.
Joe McDonald, Asda's senior manager for corporate affairs in NI, said the retailer is "delighted" to sponsor the Excellence in Corporate Social Responsibility category in this year's awards.
Mr McDonald said: "Corporate social responsibility straddles everything we do in Asda. That includes how we support our customers and colleagues, how we care for the environment, and how we work with our supply chain.
"Our aim is to operate as a responsible business in every sense of the word and we feel it is important to recognise and reward others who do the same."
In February last year, Roger Burnley, president and chief executive of Asda, launched the retailer's Plastics Unwrapped Pledge, which saw the business make a commitment to use less packaging, increase recycling and therefore reduce Asda's environmental footprint.
"Just over a year later and we have successfully removed 6,500 tonnes of plastic from our own brand packaging," Mr McDonald said.
"This milestone marks a significant step towards our ongoing commitment to reducing the amount of plastic used in product packaging.
"Through product innovation and redesign, we have reduced plastic in almost 1,000 individual product lines - from fresh fruit and veg to electronics and homewares - removing the equivalent weight of 600 million empty plastic bottles."
Some of the changes, which have been implemented over the last 12 months, include swapping family chilled ready meal trays from black plastic to foil, removing the plastic wrapping from whole turnips, changing pizza bases from non-recyclable polystyrene to fully recyclable cardboard, replacing five million plastic bags on its bedding range with a cardboard band, taking plastic covers off over 50 million greetings cards and removing plastic windows and film from over 1.6 million mince pies at Christmas.
"In addition, we have taken steps to make our packaging more recyclable," Mr McDonald said.
"This includes changing all our fresh produce trays from black plastic to clear, as we move towards making all of our packaging 100% recyclable by 2025."
As Asda hits this first year reduction milestone, the retailer has acknowledged this is only the beginning of the journey and has committed to continuing its focus on reducing the amount of plastic used in packaging, as well as working with industry bodies and relevant organisations to share best practice and develop new ideas.
"A significant change includes the introduction of a new plastic principle embedded throughout the business, which will ensure all new packaging designs avoid the use of unnecessary plastic without impacting on food waste or shelf life," said Mr McDonald.
"Where there is no current viable alternative to plastic, we have pledged to use the most recyclable materials made from recycled content wherever possible."
Asda is also continuing to work with packaging experts at Leeds Beckett University to look for and assess alternative packaging materials and will publish its first report later this year.
Congratulating in advance those who will make the shortlist of companies in the Corporate Social Responsibility category when they're announced next week, Mr McDonald added: "It is fantastic to see these organisations recognise the importance of CSR and how it cuts across so many aspects of day to day operations, which will ultimately drive business improvement and success."
- Find out if your entry has made the shortlist for the 2019 Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in partnership with Ulster Bank in next week's Business Telegraph
How to buy tickets
The gala awards dinner takes place on Thursday, May 2, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast.
A table of 10 costs £1,500 plus VAT while individual places are available at £160 plus VAT.
To book online, visit www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business awards/tickets.
One minute video pitch deadline: Friday, April 5, 5pm, send via WhatsApp to 07768 467744.