– February 26, 2018
Smooth, velvety taste, but it’s difficult to support Sainsbury’s. (2/5 green stars)
The 2 Sainsbury’s Freefrom products (their chocolate chip cookies and these buttons) I have tried really knock it out of the park. They’re a little bit too sweet and aren’t at all good for you, but they taste exactly like a non-vegan product. Plus, these buttons are creamy and smooth like milk chocolate despite being dark chocolate. It’s also nice that they’re made with rice and no palm oil, offering great taste without compromising the environment. For the yummy flavour and poor nutritional value, I’m giving these Freefrom Choc Buttons 4.5/5 gold stars.
Low eco-friendliness: Unsurprisingly, as a huge supermarket brand Sainsbury struggles to uphold its purported values. Sainsbury pulled out of the Fairtrade certification last year, which is especially impactful since they were the largest retailer of Fairtrade products. Sainsbury claims that moving to their own Fairly Traded certification was in order to support farmers with the effects of climate change. While climate resilience is certainly important, it is a little worrying that they seem more focused on treating the symptoms rather than the cause considering their low environmental scores on Ethical Consumer. In particular, they have no systematic plan on reducing HFC usage despite HFCs being a major contributor to climate change. Furthermore, their 2016 operational carbon emissions was only 0.3% lower than their 2005 baseline, despite their target of reducing carbon emissions by 65% compared to 2005. Clearly, Sainsbury does not view mitigating climate change as a priority, which is concerning given the effects of global warning (which they themselves acknowledge through their certification).
Ineffective follow-up: Their palm oil is 98% RSPO certified, but RSPO has been heavily criticised for being a weak certification that demonstrates very little about the source’s sustainability. Similarly, Sainsbury’s pledged not to source cotton from Uzbekistan (where workers are forced to export cotton) but provides no clear method as to how they filter out Uzbekistan-sourced cotton.
What they do right: At least 93% of the wood used in their products is recycled or made from PEFC-/FSC-Certified sources. This makes their target of 100% sustainably- sourced wood seem realistic.
They donated 45.8 million pounds to various charities during 2015/2016, which is a little less than 10% of their net income. That isn’t too shabby for such a large retailer, though arguably they could be doing more because they are so large. Additionally, it is questionable as to how much impact they are really having, since the efficacy of charity donations really depends on the organisation that receives aid.
They have invested 10 million pounds into their food waste campaign, ‘Waste Less, Save More’. This is great news, particularly considering that as a retailer, food waste is a highly relevant issue. Food waste contributes to economic and resource waste and remains a huge issue today.
Sainsbury’s values page reads like a dream, but as with many large corporations, they often fall short of their ideals. I would suggest seeking out more socially responsible alternatives, like Brighton’s local, community-driven HISBE supermarket. 2/5 green stars
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