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Community values at the heart of Asda

Supermarket giant on why it's supporting the Corporate Social Responsibility category in the 2020 Business Awards

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Joe McDonald, Asda corporate affairs, Liz from Drinkaware and Elaine Livingstone, Asda Portadown Community Champion

Joe McDonald, Asda corporate affairs, Liz from Drinkaware and Elaine Livingstone, Asda Portadown Community Champion

Asda Larne community champion Catherine McCallion (left), with representatives from Larne Food Bank and Stuart Legge, Asda Larne general store manager (second from right)

Asda Larne community champion Catherine McCallion (left), with representatives from Larne Food Bank and Stuart Legge, Asda Larne general store manager (second from right)

Joe McDonald, Asda corporate affairs, Liz from Drinkaware and Elaine Livingstone, Asda Portadown Community Champion

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) continues to be at the heart of Asda's activities as the retailer celebrates 15 years of doing business in Northern Ireland.

Every possible aspect, across people, planet, place and business relations are co-ordinated and driven by the 'Create Change For Better' pillar of Asda's strategy.

While well known for the sterling work of its community champions, the full scope and diverse range of CSR activities taking place at Asda stretches much further.

Joe McDonald, senior manager corporate affairs for Asda NI, says: "We're a customer-led business, and our customers want us to do the right thing.

"That means they want us to look after the environment and our local suppliers.

"They are particularly passionate about plastic reduction, and so is our chief executive, so the rate of change is incredible.

"We make most progress when we partner with our supply chain, and by way of example we have partnered with ABP Food Group to replace 23 million black plastic trays in our meat range with fully recyclable alternatives.

"It's great to see changes like this happening at store level; changes which are welcomed by our customers and which we know are making a genuine difference to our environment."

Asda has recently announced plans for a concept store in Yorkshire where it will trial all sorts of initiatives to further reduce plastic including refill options for customers.

It has also made fresh environmental commitments, seeking to move to 100% recyclable material on own brand products by 2025; reducing total plastic use by 15% by 2021; and, by the end of this year, at least one third of plastic will be from a recycled source.

Retail is seasonal and Asda has just traded its way through January and February, a time of the year when customers attention turns to their health and wellbeing.

In January local stores hosted Drinkaware ambassadors who engaged with customers about their alcohol consumption. This included a focus on Drink Free Days, Drinkaware's flagship campaign to help midlife drinkers - aged 45 to 64 - reduce their alcohol consumption by committing to more drink-free days every week.

Mr McDonald explains: "We know that our customers respond positively to the Drinkaware presence in-store, and value the opportunity to receive factual, non-judgmental advice about drinking, in an informal setting. The initiative is an important part of Asda's commitment to help our customers drink responsibly and its really well received."

Asda is also participating in in-store activity to promote the purchase of vegetables as part of a customer's five-a-day diet. Community champions have been speaking to customers and giving them tips on how to introduce more veg to our diets.

Food poverty also remains at the forefront of activities at Asda. Through an industry leading partnership, Asda has donated £20m to Fareshare and the Trussell Trust as part of its Fight Hunger Create Change programme.

The results have been amazing, most notably enabling these charities to invest in facilities to handle fresh food, and improve their wraparound services to assist their users.

Mr McDonald adds: "We do all this and much more because we know it's the right thing to do and it's what our customers want."

Belfast Telegraph