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UNFI commits to science-based climate targets

Dec. 22, 2020
Grocery distributor’s efforts to limit its climate-change impact include deployment of solar-powered reefer trailer in California

Wholesale grocery distributor United Natural Foods (UNFI) says it will lead the way to a net-zero economy by setting science-based emissions reduction targets covering its own operations and value chain.

UNFI expects its targets will align with the goals of the Paris Agreement to limit global temperature rise to less than 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C for the best chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. UNFI is the first North American wholesale grocery distributor to commit to such a target.

UNFI’s targets—which are expected to be submitted for approval to the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi) within the next year—are a core element of the company’s forthcoming 2030 ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) agenda, which includes commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resilience through operational excellence and investments in clean energy, UNFI said. By adopting the SBTi’s rigorous methodologies, the company aligns its efforts with the latest climate science.

“Our commitment to setting science-based emissions reduction targets demonstrates our continued focus on reducing our environmental impact, conserving natural resources, and promoting sustainability in our operations and across our value chain,” said Steven L. Spinner, UNFI chairman and chief executive officer. “We are proud to be the first North American wholesale grocery distributor to align with SBTi. We take seriously the need for business accountability in solving this global challenge to ensure a healthy planet for future generations, while providing financial returns to our shareholders.”

Earlier this year, UNFI joined the Climate Collaborative, working with like-minded businesses in the natural products industry to reverse climate change. In California, UNFI is piloting its first all-electric solar powered refrigerated trailer in an effort to explore technologies that reduce the climate impact of its fleet. In 2021, UNFI looks forward to activating its 2030 ESG agenda with targeted initiatives that build on its strengths, including scale and reach within North America, to further cement the vision of building a better world.

“This announcement signals a higher level of ambition for UNFI as we work to reduce our contributions to climate change, embrace innovation, and promote environmental justice in communities across North America,” said Alisha Real, UNFI director of sustainability and social impact. “Climate science clearly states that we cannot continue on a path of business as usual.

“Collective action is essential, and we look forward to engaging our value chain in these important efforts.”

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