Building on our report on the impact COVID-19 has had on the sustainability agenda, ESM caught up with a number of industry leaders seeking to drive positive change, including Pedro Lago, Director, Sustainability and Circular Economy Projects, Sonae MC.
The biggest challenge is to understand exactly what this pandemic is going to change in terms of consumer behaviour in the ‘new normal’, and the extent and depth of these changes. We know what the consumer tells us, but this does not always correspond to his or her practical actions.
We must not forget that we are experiencing something unprecedented, about which many books will be written in the coming decades. We can’t think that we already know what will happen next because we don’t.
We prefer to focus on preparing for a ‘better normal’. We have always defined ourselves as a ‘long-living company’, and this assumption has never made more sense than it does now. As a company, we reinforce our commitments with the Purpose of sustainability, with People, with the Planet, and with Prosperity, in a broad and long-term sense.
We are making a change to all our private-label packaging, to ensure its recyclability, such as yoghurt bottles, salt packaging, or even cartons of toothpaste. Elsewhere, we continue to develop initiatives to combat food waste.
We recently launched ‘zero-waste boxes’ with end-of-life fruits and vegetables that we sell in our supermarkets, and started a project co-financed by the European Union’s LIFE programme, a digital platform to better manage shrinkage by digitalising donations and B2B sales of depreciated products.
We also have a programme with hundreds of many elementary schools across the country, in which internal volunteers visit classes to raise awareness among many thousands of Portuguese children about healthy nutrition and food waste, the Missão Continente school programme.
With all these projects, in addition to the social and environmental impact, we have influenced Portuguese society, from producers to industry, but mainly consumers, towards the need to change consumption patterns and adopt a more sustainable way of life.
© 2020 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.