15 February 2024

“We need to work on solutions together”

In the Voice of the Month, Dirk Heim, Head of Sustainable Products at the REWE Group, discusses the newly launched climate protection funding programme with which REWE and PENNY, as the first food retailers in Germany, financially support the climate protection measures of their private-label suppliers, because climate protection requires innovation.
Reading time: 4 min.

Dear readers,

At the REWE Group, we have been working on the question of what climate protection means for our company and how we can further reduce our CO2 emissions for a long time and in various ways. From reusable alternatives to glass-fronted refrigeration shelves to phasing out paper flyers, these are just three examples of the ways the REWE Group contributes to greater sustainability and climate protection. Joining the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi) was another important step towards aligning our climate goals with scientific standards and to transparently report these goals and the measures needed to achieve them. These science-based climate goals are ambitious – and honestly, that’s a good thing!

No matter how you look at it, our previous measures for reducing CO2 and protecting the climate will in the long run not be sufficient to achieve our own or the statutory climate goals. This is true not only for the retail sector, but for all other sectors as well. We need innovations and we need to work together with our partners on finding solutions. After all, we are all more or less at the beginning of the climate transformation, so we also need to break new ground.

With this in mind, my team and I asked ourselves the question: how can we further reduce harmful emissions in our supply chains? The answer is REWE and PENNY Germany’s climate protection funding program, with which we help co-finance our private-label suppliers’ CO2 reduction measures, thereby supporting climate protection projects along the entire value chain.

It’s clear that most of our greenhouse gas emissions are generated in upstream supply chains, such as in agricultural production or processing. Our private-label suppliers are already doing a great deal to reduce their CO2 emissions. We know this in part from our REWE Group supplier platform, which we launched in 2021 and in which suppliers set climate protection goals and corresponding measures with the REWE Group’s support. We have already seen how much potential and willingness there is among our private-label suppliers. But it’s also true that investments in climate protection, such as photovoltaic systems or optimized harvesting processes, are very expensive and time-consuming.

I believe this will create a win-win situation – not just for everyone involved, but also for the environment.

Dirk Heim, Head of Sustainable Products at the REWE Group
Dirk Heim, Head of Sustainable Products at the REWE Group

The aim of the climate protection support program is to encourage a joint investment in climate protection. It now allows us to co-finance measures that reduce CO2 emissions from our private-label suppliers. It is important to be able to measure and standardise the reduction of CO2 emissions so these reductions count towards our own and our suppliers’ SBTi goals. I believe this will create a win-win situation – not just for everyone involved, but also for the environment. In addition, the more extensive exchange of information and the sharing of practical experiences should provide overall added value both for our suppliers and for us.

Our private-label suppliers can submit relevant planned investment plans and projects to us. Applications are assessed based on defined criteria, such as whether the private-label supplier has joined the SBTi itself and whether the measures will contribute to a long-term reduction in emissions. From production to processing, packaging to transport, many different areas can be supported. We would, of course, be delighted to support innovative projects, but traditional methods to reduceCO2, such as continuous coverage of arable land or the use of wildflower strips, can also receive funding.

If we want to manage the climate transition successfully, we need to lay the groundwork for it now, and we must do so at all levels; from drafting laws to ensuring that local administrators have the necessary staff and technological resources.

Climate change affects all of us. We can only meet this challenge by working together. The REWE and PENNY climate protection funding programme in Germany is a new tool that we at the REWE Group are building upon. Together with our suppliers and farmers, we want to and will continue to contribute to more effective climate protection.

You can learn more about the climate protection funding program here.

Yours Dirk Heim

Dirk Heim
Head of Sustainable Products at the REWE Group

As Head of Sustainable Products at the REWE Group, Dirk Heim works with his team to continually meet sustainability challenges.