Image credit: The Cooperative Group
From Wal-Mart's controversial sustainability efforts to Marks & Spencer's aggressive Plan A program, there have been some major top-down green strategies revealed in the business world. But one chain of supermarkets, banks, pharmacies and more is setting out on an incredible effort to embrace green business. From cutting carbon emissions 35% by 2017, through tackling poverty, to purchasing 90% of its developing-world primary commodities from Fair Trade suppliers, this is big, big news. According to the Guardian, the UK-based Co-operative Group—which is a member-owned mega cooperative running supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, car dealerships, travel agencies and more—is setting out on a corporate journey that it hopes will provide a "benchmark for corporate responsibility". As Tom Bawden explains, the idea is to tackle every possible angle of greener, fairer business:
"The group, which employs 120,000 staff, also plans to increase its membership from 6 million to 20 million and double its support for green energy to £1bn. In addition, it will increase its involvement with schools and create 2,000 apprenticeships in the next few years, as well as invest £5m a year to tackle poverty around its stores and branches."
As a democratically controlled, member owned cooperative, The Coop has always had a strong ethical angle to everything it does. But this is clearly a move intended to regain the "ethical" momentum from other high street retailers and I for one am all for it. Competition, as we know, is a great motivator—and what better thing to compete over than who can do the least damage and the most good at the same time.
So who's next?