Water focus for major UK retailer

Retailers have focussed on climate, sustainability, and, in one case, on environmental footprint but the UK’s Sainsbury may be the first to make water conservation a priority. In March 2013, Sainsbury claims that it achieved a 50% reduction in water use per square metre, – a saving of almost one billion litres each year (or 393 Olympic sized swimming pools) at the same time as growing its floor space by up to 40% since 2005/06.

The UK retailer Sainsbury’s has introduced Water Neutral at its ‘environmentally friendly’ store at Weymouth Gateway in Dorset, on the south coast of England. The plan is that the store will be self sufficient in water. One hundred per cent of its water demand will be met through water efficient infrastructure and offsetting partnerships in the local community. As a result of this initiative the total water used within the local catchment area will not increase as a result of this new store. Sainsbury’s will also replicate this approach at its new supermarket in Leicester, opening at the end of November.

Seventy per cent of the water demand of the supermarket will be met through rainwater harvesting and other water efficient infrastructure. The remaining 30 per cent, which needs to be drinking quality potable water for food preparation, will be offset by sponsoring water saving initiatives at partner sites in the local community. For example, this store will offset at least 4.5 m3 of potable water each day through collaborations with Weymouth College and Wey Valley School in the same community of Weymouth. This will also substantially reduce these educational institutes’ annual water bills.

Water is an increasingly scarce resource, not just in the UK but also in North America. While two stores out of more than 1000 is only a small start, GallonDaily believes that Sainsbury’s is to be congratulated for making water conservation its latest environmental priority.

The Sainsbury’s press release on Water Neutral is at http://www.j-sainsbury.co.uk/media/latest-stories/2013/20131021-sainsburys-introduces-water-neutral-at-new-weymouth-store-after-saving-almost-one-billion-litres-of-water-each-year/

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