“Our brand Garant Såklart [loosely translated: Guarantee Of course] is a new way of addressing climate concerns to minimize environmental impact,” says Åsa Domeij, responsible for environmental and social responsibility at Axfood. “The range includes body care and cleaning products like detergents.”

axfood“Currently, the range includes 20 products sold through Axfood channels. Free of perfumes and allergens, the range is gentle for the user and is recommended by the Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association. All products are also Swan-labeled.”

“Garant Såklart’s products have a negligible carbon footprint and are designed with a focus on the product’s life cycle to reduce emissions. This includes everything from the extraction and processing of raw materials to the packaging, transport and how the product is displayed on shelves,” continues Domeij.

How compensation works

“We use Tricorona, an external organization, to manage our offsets,” explains Domeij. “Tricorona is a world leader in developing carbon offset projects in developing countries with a focus on renewable energy and efficiency measures including wind, small hydro and biomass power plants.”

These renewable projects limit the use of fossil fuels and contribute to sustainable development. The compensation comes from the CDM-registered (Clean Development Mechanism) projects under the UN’s Kyoto Protocol, which are proven to counter climate change. These projects are also Gold Standard-certified, which includes additional criteria for sustainability and social responsibility.

Sustainability program shows the way

“Our goal with Garant is to be responsive. We listen to customer desires and offer choices without compromises. This is in line with Axfood’s work to continually reduce its environmental impact and take responsibility in sustainability issues,” says Domeij.

Axfood’s sustainability program is an important tool for the group. It describes yearly sustainability goals and strategies and is revised once a year. The program includes the following objectives:

  • Axfood will reduce its carbon footprint by 75 percent by 2020 and become a climate neutral company.
  • Recycling should be profitable. Extensive sorting and sale of waste fractions are therefore included in the strategy.
  • Efficient and climate-friendly transport – Axfood reduces carbon dioxide emissions and fuel consumption.
  • Axfood needs to reach six percent of its food turnover with organics. 100 percent of the palm oil used in Garant’s products must be sustainability certified by 2015.

The path to a sustainable purchase

“There are hundreds of steps and decisions along the way from the first contact with the supplier to when the product ends up in a shopping bag. From a sustainability perspective, we work both in the supply chain and within our own businesses,” says Domeij.

Some examples:

Purchasing and selection

A group-wide product range and purchasing function makes Axfood a strong player that can place demands on producers and suppliers. A certain percentage of private label products are purchased through the joint Nordic purchasing company United Nordic that has its own Code of Conduct and an increasing number of social audits. Key players in the Nordic grocery chains are involved with United Nordic and meet regularly to ensure common strategies and the right priorities.

Sustainable transport and logistics

Axfood’s logistics partner Dagab helps to increase store sales and profitability by developing efficient logistics solutions. Dagab strives daily to reduce the use of resources and prevent pollution through active environmental work in shops and with partners.

The main environmental issue is the climate impact of imports, storage and distribution.

Energy consumption

Axfood’s business is conducted in large retail and warehouse premises with energy-intensive installations including refrigeration and storage. For Axfood, it is important to work continuously to reduce energy consumption in operations.

“Finally, I would like to mention training and career development as important components in our sustainability efforts,” says Domeij. “Our annual performance appraisal is an excellent opportunity to take stock of how we are working from the Group’s core values. I would also like to quote Axfood’s CEO Anders Strålman: ‘For Axfood, it is obvious that sustainable business and economics go hand in hand. By actively and knowledgeably working with sustainability, we create the right offering for the customer, which in turn leads to better business.”

This article was published in January 2015