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13 July 2014 | Anna Scott
The Co-operative Group rolled out a responsible buyer training programme for all category trading managers and buyers to help them understand the impact of the company on workers and their communities, according to its 2013 Sustainability Report.
The company also saw nearly 1,500 of its tier one and tier two supplier sites registered on the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex), on which they post labour standards information, including self-assessments and site audit reports.
But the Co-op did not reach its goal to create better workplaces among 800 supplier sites by the end of 2013, with 479 supplier sites attending 44 supplier training events since 2011, involving 850 participants.
“The period covered by this report has been one of unprecedented turmoil for The Co-operative Group, brought about by a procession of challenges – from the financial crisis that became apparent in 2013, to the governance issues that followed,” said the organisation’s chair, Ursula Lidbetter.
The report also found the Co-op has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 45 per cent and an 18 per cent reduction in transport miles since 2006. Its total waste arisings are down 40 per cent since 2006 and it reused and recycled 72 per cent of its waste in 2013. Last year also saw sales of Fairtrade products increase to £140 million, and it sourced all own-brand eggs, milk, fresh and frozen chicken, turkey, beef, pork and sausage from the UK.
“This report reflects a period of transition for us as we recover from the crisis of 2013 and begin to rebuild the group’s reputation and commercial performance,” said interim chief executive, Richard Pennycook. “Central to our recovery is our renewed commitment to place communities at the heart of our business approach.”