The UK’s leading meals provider to the Health, Social Care, Nursery and Education sectors, apetito, has set the bar high and is leading the way across the nation’s business community with its 3-fold commitment to delivering Net Zero by 2040:
- By 2025: Meet challenging interim targets for decarbonisation by driving immediate action in line with a 1.5D pathway.
- By 2035: Deliver substantial decarbonisation that is independently assessed and validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)
- By 2040: Achieve Net Zero
The company first established its footprint (working closely with its sustainability partner, 3Keel) to map out its current carbon baseline, enabling it to understand the origin and root cause of the footprint both across its direct and indirect operations.
apetito was then able to set clear targets as to how to reduce its footprint and associated pathways, which have been assessed and validated by the Science Based Targets initiative, in line with Paris Climate Agreement requirements to meet a Net Zero 1.5D pathway.
Managing Partner at 3Keel, Simon Miller, was impressed with apetito’s approach to achieving Net Zero:
“I’ve had a series of sessions with the CEO and other Board members and working sessions with newly formed internal groups tasked with hitting short term targets for each of the emissions hotspots. I would see apetito’s approach of committing to a science-based target, and then developing a clear plan, as best in class.”
According to Lee Sheppard, Director of Corporate Affairs and Policy, making a meaningful commitment to decarbonisation goes far beyond making a simple marketing-led net zero pledge:
“To achieve true Net Zero, companies must commit to decarbonisation, not only of their direct operations and purchased heating (Scopes 1&2), but all indirect sources across their whole supply chain. This commits businesses to looking beyond their own operation, forcing them to work with suppliers and users of their goods and services to reduce carbon.
“Our commitments have been carefully considered. Whilst making a Net Zero commitment is clearly the right thing to do, without further pledges it is effectively meaningless; the CMA recently reporting that up to 40% of “Green claims” could be misleading customers*.
“That’s why we’ve had our targets independently verified by the SBTi. Our targets have been based upon solid science rather than marketing “greenwash” and commit us to significantly removing carbon across our supply chain.”
It’s this commitment that marks apetito as the frontrunner of UK companies leading the way when it comes to Net Zero. The Climate Action 100+ report includes companies which are responsible for an estimated 80%+ of all global emissions and found that whilst nearly half (43%) of companies have set a Net Zero by 2050 target or ambition in some form, only 10% of focus companies have net-zero targets that explicitly cover the companies’ most material scope 3 emissions.
Paul Freeston, Chair & CEO, apetito UK & North America, adds:
“There are undoubtedly some big challenges for the agricultural sector and the farming industries to reach Net Zero, but we believe passionately that this is the right way to do business and we are already making good progress on our journey. We believe that companies need to act fast and put changes into effect as fast as possible now, in order to reach set targets by 2040.
“Too many businesses rely on ‘offsetting’ alone, without addressing the fundamental problem of needing to remove carbon. Offsetting has a role to play but not at the expense of initial decarbonisation.
“Interim targets and the focus this puts on “action now” are also key. Too many CEOs are content to make the commitment and then effectively kick the problem into the long grass, knowing that 2040 or 2050 is a long way off.”
Action is what apetito’s customers are already seeing. Two weeks ago, the company launched the world’s first reduced carbon menu into the NHS giving options that can reduce carbon by up to 20%. St. Georges Foundation Hospital has been the first to adopt one of apetito’s reduced carbon menus with others looking to follow suit, supporting the NHS’s own ambition to be Net Zero by 2040.
Additionally, this week sees a division of apetito – Wiltshire Farm Foods, (the nation’s leading home meals delivery service) – target the ‘zero-packaging ready meal’, launching another world-first! This trail-blazing scheme leaves behind a fraction of the packaging – just 3% that is normally associated with a week’s worth of ready meals from other retailers. The company has never used cardboard sleeves and just leaves the tray film lids behind, so effectively reduces any unnecessary waste.
Wiltshire Farm Foods has also introduced 100% recyclable trays, alongside a recycling collection service for its customers, which involves collecting washed, used trays directly from customers and sending them back to a specialist recycling facility in Durham. Here, they are broken down to create brand new trays which are then redistributed to customers.
The scale of the closed loop recycling makes the scheme the first of its type worldwide.
apetito’s journey to Net Zero started in 2007, since when it has made immense progress. Signatories to the Courtauld Commitment, the UK Plastics Pact and the NHS Plastics Pledge, the company uses 100% green electricity in its production kitchens, saving 3,700 tonnes of kgCO2e. Since 2007 it has – per meal – reduced carbon by 74%, electricity by 47%, water by 47% and diesel use by 45%.
apetito’s initial work culminated in the company winning its third Queens Award for Enterprise – in 2019 for its work in Sustainable Development.
Sheppard concludes: “We’ve made great progress which supports our mission of “making a real difference”, and we now want to take things to the next level.
“The challenge of Climate change is here and now. Businesses have two choices: either they can lead with their approach or eventually they will be forced to follow. It’s our ambition to be regarded as one of the UK’s leading ethical and sustainable companies, not only in our own sector but across business as a whole – hence why we are taking this leading role.”