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Sequoia will be carbon neutral in 2020
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Sequoia will be carbon neutral in 2020

It is a first in food retail I believe. Sequoia, the specialist in organic food has announced that in 2020 the group will be carbon neutral. The decision will be implemented in all stores and at the headquarters of Uccle.


An obvious choice

The stores of Sequoia won’t leave any carbon footprint as compensating measures will be taken to make sure that a carbon neutrality is achieved. For Nicolas Dhaene,  Board Director of Sequoia, this decision was an obvious guarantee that the retailer had to give to the world : «For over 30 years we are pioneers in the organic market, and as it is in our DNA, it was only logical for us to face our responsibilities in order to protect the climate. And seeing that there is an undeniable climate emergency, it was important for us to act without further delay. ».


Concretely, it means efforts and compensations

Verified and certified numbers

It is quite obvious that such a bold claim needs to go beyond a declaration of intent, and it seems that Sequoia is putting their money where their mouth is by taking concrete measures to ensure the carbon neutrality is reached. 

The retailer is committed to compensate its CO2 emissions, whether these are linked to their bricks (store operations such as lighting, refrigeration etc), the transport of goods (deliveries from suppliers), as well as consumables (packaging, etc.) or the travel of staff to get to work. For your information, when Sequoia communicated its plans through its press release, the group openly communicated the details of its CO2 emissions. We are talking about 331 tons of CO2 divided in 

  • Buildings: 86,87 tons of CO2
  • Consumables: 2,99 tons of CO2
  • Transport of goods: 218,22 tons of CO2
  • Personnel transport (mix of car, public transport, bicycles and walking): 23,17 tons of C02

To obtain these numbers Sequoia worked with CO2logic, an independent consultant specialised in the calculation, the reduction and the compensation of CO2 emissions. 

Concrete actions, sometimes too little known

I feel that retailers take positive measures to help the environment or the climate, but too often those actions are not enough known by the public. For those who didn’t know about the ones taken by Sequoia, here is an overview (and of course these measures have been implemented over the years, not just last week): 

  • To start with we should mention, the group promotes only organic products produced by sustainable farming. We tend to forget that the purpose is to farm ethically with respect for the Earth and human kind. 
  • We can also point out the energy system Conveni-Pack. This system allows to recuperate the heat from the refrigerators and use the energy for the heating system and air-conditioning, 
  • or the use of LED lighting,
  • or the fact that the energy used by stores is “100% green-certified”.
  • The choice to develop urban stores is actually to also allow the staff and the customers to go to the shops on foot, by bicycle or by using public transport. 
  • The pool of vehicles is transitioned and comprises only hybrid models
  • In order to reduce waste, the headquarters of Sequoia has welcomed a compost-system, a beehive and a chicken coop. 
  • And of course, the group works like many others, to reduce the use of plastic by favouring alternatives in carton or the use of reusable containers. 

More than just planting trees

To offset its impact and achieve carbon neutrality, Sequoia has chosen two complementary environmental and social projects: supporting agroforestry in Zambia and preparing the forest of the future in Belgium.

The Zambian project is a project that helps illegal poachers in a transition to legality. This goes further than simply compensating with tree planting, as it trains people to choose sustainable alternatives for work and supports the conservation of local flora and fauna.

The Belgian project is a project that prepares Belgian forests for future generations through the diversification of tree species and the introduction of species that are more resistant to the climatic realities of tomorrow.


My 20/CENT

Through these various concrete measures, Sequoia wants to be the first food store chain to achieve the ambitious goal of carbon neutrality.

First of all, I see that transparency is being played out on Sequoia's side. They publish figures, they work with independent audit firms and they come up with a concrete plan. In short, we are far from just a declaration and certainly not in a "greenwashing" mode. This is a concrete commitment and we must welcome it.

It is true that one can ask the question of the real impact. Sequoia is a modest chain with only 10 points of sale, the positive effect for the environment could be seen as minimal. Personally, I do not think so. Sequoia simply demonstrates that it is possible for a retailer to look in the mirror and do a thorough exercise: measure the efforts to be made and consider compensating for what cannot (yet) be eliminated. This is an exercise that other distributors can do, and let’s hope they will. In my opinion, Sequoia is well aware of its size in the market and its size in the world. And the goal is not to be a saviour of humanity or to play the role of a lesson giver. I rather interpret Sequoia's gesture as an action that should inspire other distributors to do the same.

Moreover, I want to conclude by saying I hope that this inspiration will not stop with retailers. Let’s hope the suppliers, whether large international companies or SME's, do their audit and commit themselves. And of course, let’s hope consumers also do their part for the planet.



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