Time to collaborate on sustainability

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Asda has just launched a sustainability initiative, the Asda Sustain and Save Exchange, using 2degrees – an online managed service designed to facilitate collaboration. 2degress says it will redefine relationships with suppliers, with the potential for shared buying, logistics and category learning.

It supports Asda’s “Sustainability 2.0” strategy in which Asda is shifting its focus to targets for its products and supply chain. The aim is to enable suppliers to explore more sustainable and efficient methods for energy, water and waste management; delivering efficiencies across the supply chain. “The Asda Sustain & Save Exchange represents a shift from the more traditional model of transactional activity with suppliers to a more ‘collaborative’ way of working,” says Martin Chilcott, founder and chief executive of 2degrees.

Clearly customer pressure is having an impact. “Sustainability isn’t a bolt-on or stand alone element of people’s lives – it’s simply part of them. It’s not something [customers]are thinking about getting round to – it’s as normal as having a cup of tea,” says Paul Kelly, Asda’s director of corporate responsibility & external affairs. And Julian Walker Palin, head of corporate sustainability says: “Our customers have told us they want retailers like us to provide affordable, sustainable products as the norm, not make it a complex choice with a premium attached.”

Asda is not the first to go down this route. In June last year, Tesco announced it was working with 2degrees to help it reduce its supply chain carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2020. The dedicated Tesco Carbon Reduction Knowledge Hub encourages some 200 of Tesco’s suppliers to engage and collaborate with each other, and to share best practice.

There are some well documented examples of collaboration on logistics, but many more initiatives have failed to get off the ground because of competitive issues. Perhaps the need to make supply chains more sustainable will be the driver for new logistics collaborations.

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