Today is World Environment Day, designed by the United Nations to inspire all of us to take a moment to appreciate our collective home. World Environment Day is the perfect time to celebrate the earth and its many resources that support us. Today, the UN asks that we take action to preserve the environment and allow it, too, to flourish. How can we become change agents? How can we protect the environment?
One cooperative has truly responded to the UN’s call-to-action. Midcounties Co-operative is the largest independent consumer-owned cooperative in the United Kingdom, with retail businesses in the industries of food, travel, pharmacy, funeral services, childcare, and more. Midcounties’ cooperative roots and social responsibility are intertwined with a focus on building a better, fairer world through both its business practices as well as its environmental initiatives.
Midcounties’ emphasis on sustainable practices – through recycling efforts, waste reduction, and energy efficiency – earned the cooperative the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Sustainable Development. The co-op increased recycling levels from 21% in 2009 to 91% in 2016, and simultaneously reduced waste production by nearly 35% from 2013 to 2016.* Not only have these measures reduced the amount of waste entering the landfill by 3,000 tonnes [3.31 US tons]; they have also significantly reduced waste removal costs. Also focusing on improving energy efficiency within its properties, Midcounties has reduced its energy usage by over 15%, saving 7,000 tonnes [7.72 US tons] of carbon dioxide since 2010.
Beyond these waste elimination and energy reduction programs, Midcounties aids the environment by converting old food waste into renewable energy. The co-op sends its food waste through an anaerobic digestion process, which recycles the old food into renewable energy for the community. This food recycling program produces renewable energy that can power 40 homes for a year.
“As a co-operative business we are committed to supporting local good causes by working with our colleagues and members to enable communities to grow together,” says page 6 of Midcounties Co-operative Social Responsibility Report 2016/2017. Midcounties gives back, and it gives big! The co-op’s members, employees, and customers donated over 70,000 items to food banks in 2016, and they spent 36,000 hours volunteering in their local communities. Being sustainable, both in business practices and social responsibility, is at the heart of what Midcounties Cooperative does.
This World Environment Day, let’s follow in Midcounties Co-operative’s footsteps. Let’s connect with the environment around us, and truly care for it. Go outside and appreciate nature or take action to preserve it by attending World Environment Day events near you. Be #WithNature on #WorldEnvironmentDay!
*All figures come from Midcounties Co-operative Social Responsibility Report 2016/2017.