tesco Dave Lewis and Tanya Steele wwf

Tesco has wound up its eco partnership with campaign giant WWF, saying that its goals had now become embedded in its supply chains.

The alliance, announced under former boss Dave Lewis five years ago, was billed as a “ground-breaking” partnership and was originally due to run for four years.

However, the partnership was wound up earlier this month, having peaked with a hard-hitting report published a year ago in which Tesco and WWF slammed the lack of government action to tackle food waste on UK farms.

When it formed the alliance, Tesco produced research claiming 80% of shoppers wanted supermarkets to do more to offer choices that reduce the impact their food purchases had on the planet.

Together they created a sustainable basket metric as a barometer to track the progress of the supermarket in its pledge to halve its overall impact by 2030.

A WWF spokesperson said: “Though WWF UK’s bilateral partnership with Tesco has now come to an end, we will continue to work together to deliver on our shared ambition to halve the environmental impact of UK shopping baskets, as Tesco is a key member of WWF’s Retailers’ Commitment for Nature group.

“This work was spearheaded through the Tesco WWF partnership, and we are so proud of this work, which has helped bring six other UK food retailers on board with the shared ambition to transform our food system.”

Instead of the WWF partnership, Tesco has announced its Tesco’s Nature Programme, which it said would focus on five key areas of action: protecting nature in key sourcing landscapes, both in the UK and abroad; scaling industry-leading innovations to support biodiversity; implementing a nature plan across its own estate and operations; continuing to lead the industry on research into key challenges facing nature and the food system; and playing a leading role in cross-sector engagement.

As a first step it is urging suppliers in the River Wye catchment, which is struggling with the impact of water pollution, to match Tesco’s ambition on achieving the Courtauld 2030 Water Roadmap, and sign up to third-party environmental certification schemes.

Tesco said it would continue to work alongside WWF and other retailers as part of WWF’s Retailers’ Commitment for Nature Group, as well as developing its own initiatives with its suppliers and farmers.

“Five years ago, Tesco and WWF formed a new partnership, rooted in a bold ambition: to halve the environmental impact of the average UK shopping basket,” said Tesco chief product officer Ashwin Prasad.

“We set this goal because we know that putting the food system on a sustainable footing is vital if we are to meet the challenges of feeding a growing global population while tackling the climate crisis and nature loss.

“With the work of the partnership now successfully embedded in our supply chains, and with Tesco and WWF convening five other UK supermarkets around the agenda we set out as part of the WWF Retailers’ Commitment for Nature Group, our direct partnership with WWF will come to its planned end in November.

“We will continue to separately address these critical issues across both our organisations and play our part in driving action at an industry level through the WWF Retailers group, but for now, I wanted to reflect on some of the hugely important initiatives we’ve worked on together.” 

Prasad pledged Tesco would continue to have a “transformative” agenda, adding: “We know there is a lot more to do, but we’re pleased the partnership has driven – and continues to drive – action.”