We encourage others to act sustainably by assuming responsibility ourselves and by inspiring customers and partners with our new ways of thinking. This makes us an attractive employer for (future) employees and a trustworthy partner for our customers, business partners and representatives from the fields of politics and science and of associations. We engage with our internal and external stakeholders to align our corporate actions with the needs of society. We support local communities at our locations and via our business relationships. This is how we work on solutions to global challenges and contribute to sustainable development by engaging with economic, social and ecological issues.
In our social and ecological engagement we frequently collaborate with partner organisations. In this way, we boost the effectiveness and scope of the initiatives:
- In 2017, we launched the METRO Water Initiative with the goal of raising awareness of water shortage and water pollution worldwide. In this effort we work with renowned manufacturers. From 2019, we will raise our engagement to a new level and collaborate with the NGO One Drop. It is specialised in implementing sustainably effective water projects. Together, we will help make an aid project in India a reality – in a region that suffers particularly severely from the lack of clean water. In a 2-week promotion campaign in our stores we want to collect enough donation money to fund the project for 3 years. METRO has contractually guaranteed a donation amount of €1.2 million.
- We believe that technology can also help achieve sustainability goals. Together with our IT company METRO-NOM, we are therefore gradually making the search engine Ecosia available to our employees. The ‘green’ search engine from Berlin with currently over 1 million users a day invests 80% of its profit in forestation projects around the world. Nearly 45 million trees have already been planted in this way – and as Ecosia’s home page tells us, this number keeps growing by the second. In June 2018, the METRO Campus in Düsseldorf became the first location to use the search engine as a pre-installed default setting. As a result, 5,500 trees were planted within just a few weeks thanks to METRO searches. In the future, Ecosia is also to be available in other METRO countries, such as Austria, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
- We also work in concert with partners in the battle against food waste. As a participant in the METRO Accelerator, the start-up Whole Surplus developed an IT solution that helps companies in the collection of data and the optimum distribution of surplus food. The SIRPLUS initiative is aimed directly at consumers. METRO has supported this start-up, which sells surplus food at low prices in stores and online, since 2017. Moreover, METRO has collaborated with the ‘Tafel’ (food bank) movement for more than 2 decades to provide people in need with food that is still of impeccable quality despite an approaching best-before date. We are also steadily expanding the collaboration on an international scale.
- METRO supports a number of international environment and climate initiatives that rely on the power of partnership: in 2017, for instance, we signed a voluntary commitment to protect the particularly endangered tuna fish, the Tuna 2020 Traceability Declaration. METRO is moreover an active member of the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI).
- In 2018, we assumed a major role in the Consumer Goods Forum (CGF) – METRO’s Chairman of the Management Board Olaf Koch currently holds the position of co-chair for the retail sector at the CGF. The joint platform of manufacturers and retailers is trying to find solutions to issues that are central to the industry, specifically also including the area of sustainability. The forum deals with such topics as health, human rights and resource protection, for instance the protection of the rainforests against deforestation. Back on 25 October 2017, METRO was the first German retail company to sign the so-called Cerrado Manifesto. It is a call to action in order to end deforestation and thus the irreversible loss of the original vegetation in the Cerrado region in Brazil. 23 global companies participated.
- Other memberships include the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and, since early 2018, the Roundtable on Responsible Soy (RTRS).
- To achieve continuous progress towards an efficient and sustainable use of resources, we are actively involved in the Retailers’ Environmental Action Programme (REAP), along with other large European retail companies and the European Commission (Directorate-General for Environment). The purpose of this joint platform is to advance sustainable consumption, to promote the exchange of experience and to present exemplary projects in the field of environmental and resource management. Our sales lines are involved in the current REAP mandate, running from 2016 until 2018, which seeks to contribute to the achievement of a circular economy through various goals and measures. METRO has made a total of 7 commitments under the mandate. Amongst these are:
- Establishing collection points for used cooking fats and oils for reuse as energy sources: in 2017, METRO France, in close collaboration with 5,183 HoReCa customers, was able to collect 693 tonnes of cooking fats and oils and provide it for biogas generation.
- Not providing free plastic bags, in order to reduce the use of resources: this goal has already been achieved in all Real stores. Since 2016, no disposable plastic bags have been handed out any longer in the checkout areas at Real. Instead, the company offers its customers reusable PET bags or FSC®-certified paper bags.
- Reviewing own-brand product packaging with respect to improvement potential: since 2017, additional METRO countries and areas have joined this initiative, among them Turkey, China, Bulgaria, Austria and the International Trading Office for fresh meat in Rotterdam.
- The complete switch from SIG and Tetra Pak beverage cartons to FSC® certification (for globally procured products and in participating countries) and replacement of PVC packaging by more sustainable alternatives.
- Dealing with plastic waste is becoming a growing challenge. For this reason, METRO has launched the round table ‘Unser Ausweg aus dem Einweg’ (Our way out of the one-way) initiative. Representatives from the entire value chain were invited to the kick-off event on 20 September 2018 – because sustainable solutions can only be developed in concert. METRO is taking the lead by replacing disposable with returnable solutions in all company cafeterias in Germany by the end of 2019. This switch is scheduled to be rolled out at all METRO locations by the end of 2020. Moreover, we have committed ourselves to gradually replacing standard disposable plastics with reusable, recyclable or compostable materials in our product ranges by 2025.
Examples from various countries
Customer dialogue in France
For the second time already since 2017, METRO France invited its customers and other experts in sustainability in the food industry to a dialogue on the theme ‘My restaurant goes green’. The purpose of the conference was an exchange in a spirit of partnership and the insight that to bring about actual change, it is best to follow the path towards more sustainability together. A good example of this is the cooperation between METRO and Baluchon. METRO was one of the first to understand that Baluchon is not a conventional food company. In addition to the development, production and marketing of ready meals and catering services, the aim is to use production as an opportunity to train and integrate people without employment in the kitchen and logistics sector. The owners of Baluchon are not only interested in the financial profitability of their capital, but also in ensuring that their business activities are sustainable and achieve maximum added value in social, societal and ecological terms. They can only achieve this in cooperation with other players, especially with well-established companies such as METRO, who engage in positive ways.
METRO Hungary supports sustainability leadership programme
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) has developed a programme for future executives. Called ‘Future Leaders’, it deals with issues around sustainable business practices in companies. In 2017, METRO Hungary supported the WBCSD subsidiary Business Council for Sustainable Development in Hungary (BCSDH) as a mentor company and in the organisation of an entrepreneur day by setting up a training station in its Gastro Academy. In 2018, a young employee of METRO Hungary participated for the first time in the national adaption of the WBCSD management programme. In 2019, another employee will participate in the programme.
Social engagement with our partners
As a retail company, METRO is highly integrated in its social environment. Every day we cultivate relationships with many millions of people: people who work with or for us, who shop at our stores or with whom we have some other relationship. Our social and environmental responsibility in the places where we are based and interact with people is another thing that we see as a means of adding value, as it goes towards tackling social challenges. Our diverse activities aim to foster intercultural dialogue, to lend support to our locations and their local communities, and to provide direct assistance to those in need. At the same time, we support employees who actively participate in our activities by helping them to hone their social skills and allowing them to work on their own initiative. By enabling them to address social issues at work, we raise awareness of METRO’s close ties with society. This is crucial for our long-term market viability. It also helps our employees to identify more strongly with the company.
More key performance indicators for the Partnership area of responsibility can be found in the chapter 'Key Performance Indicators'.
Since 2008, METRO has been organising its voluntary work and social responsibility projects under the umbrella of Care & Share. The goal of the global initiative is to support voluntary social and ecological activities by employees as well as customers. In this way, we can give something back to the communities in which we work. The various local activities of the METRO Wholesale national subsidiaries demonstrate how this international initiative is implemented at the local level.
‘Restaurants against hunger’ in Spain
The ‘Action Against Hunger’ organisation has fought against malnutrition and undernourishment, especially amongst children, for more than 40 years. MAKRO supports the NGO together with the Spanish hospitality association FEHR in the industry’s largest donation campaign in Spain: the ‘Restaurantes Contra el Hambre’ (Restaurants against hunger) campaign. For 2 months the participating restaurants – by now numbering about 1,500 – include ‘Dishes of solidarity’ on their menus. When guests order these, part of the earnings go to ‘Action Against Hunger’. MAKRO promotes the campaign in its stores and offers its customers information material.
CHEF FOR YOUNG TALENTS programme in Poland
In order to support future chefs early on, MAKRO Poland launched the ‘CHEF FOR YOUNG TALENTS’ programme. It provides young employees with the opportunity to learn from experts in the sector, get to know new products and grapple with sustainability issues. More than 3,000 trainees from all over Poland have participated in the programme on 18 dates at our stores so far. The best 20 participants moreover were offered internships at leading Polish restaurants.
Vocational counselling for young people from orphanages in Russia
Employees of METRO Russia help teenagers from orphanages find a profession. What are each individual’s fortes and interests? To find that out, they accompany the young people during visits with large companies and educational institutions, among other activities.
In June 2016, in close association with its own core business, METRO embarked on a global, long-term partnership with the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian organisation working to end hunger worldwide. In this partnership, which is implemented at the local level by the METRO Wholesale national subsidiaries, the company and its employees and customers collect donations in a number of campaigns in order to help people in need. Additionally, the partnership serves as a platform for the exchange of expertise and the targeted development of initiatives. It arose from the highly successful collaboration that was established in 2012 between WFP Italia and METRO Italy, which has helped to provide approximately 1.5 million schoolchildren with school meals. With the launch of this global partnership, we firmly believe that thanks to the activities at the holding and country level we will continue to be a strong partner of WFP in the years to come, working together to end world hunger.
Examples from various countries
Donation campaigns in Italy and Pakistan
In 2017/18, METRO Italy again organised a number of donation campaigns for WFP. The national subsidiary guaranteed a minimum amount of €33.500. Among other things, employees were able to donate part of their salary. In addition, part of the sales proceeds from own brand campaigns at Christmas and Easter were donated to the WFP. On International Women's Day 2018, there was a direct donation and through the "Punti METRO" bonus campaign, customers could use their loyalty points for humanitarian purposes. In total, the actual donations exceeded the guaranteed amount: A sum of € 56,500 was collected. This corresponds to 282,500 donated meals.
In Pakistan, the national subsidiary also launched a programme where the employees can donate part of their salary each month. The collected amount is announced on 16 October – World Food Day – every year. METRO Pakistan guarantees a donation amount of at least €2,500 with this campaign. In addition, METRO Pakistan donates 1% of its sales from own-brand chips, olive oil and olives to WFP. With this campaign, too, METRO Pakistan guarantees a donation amount of at least €2,500.
METRO-NOM helps with IT consultation
In the strategy of WFP, the retail sector plays a special part. In many countries, strengthening the sector is one of the most important levers to boost buying power, improve supply chains and retain profits locally. As part of our partnership, METRO supports this strategy by providing consulting by experts from METRO-NOM to WFP on issues of data processing in retail. After all, transparency and effectiveness of the WFP programmes can be significantly improved in this way. One WFP employee and one METRO-NOM employee each collaborate in 7 sub-projects. The topics include how to deal with product master data, databases and checkout solutions.
Counselling and donations by METRO AG
We also help at the group level: experts of METRO AG advise WFP regarding its retail engagement strategy. The employees’ expert knowledge in the field of retail franchise helps WFP in its transformation from not just actually helping people in areas of conflict but also rebuilding and improving the local economy. Moreover, an option to donate one’s bottle deposit has been permanently set up at both company cafeterias at the METRO Campus in Düsseldorf. Additional donation campaigns take place every year on the occasion of the World Food Day on 16 October, such as the distribution of a special charity meal in our cafeterias, where the higher price employees pay for their lunch is matched by the company and donated to WFP.
METRO is one of the earliest and most committed supporters of the international food bank movement. For more than 10 years, we have been the main sponsor of Tafel Deutschland e. V. and prematurely extended our partnership until 2020. Moreover, we support the European Food Banks Federation (FEBA) financially. The principle is the same at all locations: Our stores donate food items whose best-before date is approaching but which are still perfectly consumable. Local organisations then distribute the food to people in need. Currently, we collaborate with ‘Tafel’ and food bank initiatives in 19 of 25 countries. We are planning to expand this to 21 countries. At some locations, external circumstances make collaboration difficult – but even there we talk to aid organisations and political representatives to further advance the collaboration.
Italy is one of the countries in which we regularly donate food. Donations are distributed almost throughout the entire country: 95% of the METRO stores in Italy collaborate with the local institutions of the ‘Banco Alimentare’.
In 2016, the ‘Banca pentru Alimente’ initiative started in Romania. The initiative works on the basis of the FEBA principles. In this spirit, METRO Romania initiated the establishment of a nationwide food bank in 2018. 4 additional international retail companies have already pledged their support. A pilot project in Bucharest is to check general parameters for the new organisation. Parallel to this, the first METRO stores will start with the distribution of food to the ‘Banca pentru Alimente’ in 2019.
In Germany, METRO helped develop a concept for a travelling exhibition on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the ‘Tafel’ food banks. Entitled ‘Love The Waste: don’t waste – distribute’, it provides tips on food rescue. In addition, portrait photos honour the volunteers who tirelessly work for the initiative. The exhibition will be on tour through METRO and Real stores in Hamburg, Berlin, Nuremberg and Krefeld until the end of 2018. It was also shown at the future congress of the ‘Tafel’ food banks in Berlin and at the METRO Campus in Düsseldorf.
To provide unbureaucratic assistance and acute emergency relief and to contribute to the integration of refugees, METRO launched the ‘We Help’ programme in 2015. Each group employee had the opportunity to apply once for funds to support local projects for which they personally performed volunteer work. Due to the great success of ‘We Help’, since 2017 the programme has been continued with one-off support money in the amount of €3,000 per applicant and with an expanded focus: now employees can apply for a subsidy of their volunteer work if it essentially helps people in need. By the end of financial year 2017/18, 214 projects in 11 countries had been supported.
Premiere for the METRO Volunteer Day in 5 countries
All METRO employees are to be given the chance to perform volunteer work and participate in the company’s community involvement programme. For this reason, METRO celebrated the first METRO Volunteer Day in 2018, on 5 September. The METRO Campus in Düsseldorf organised 2 aid projects in the first year, and other campaigns, for instance in support of disadvantaged people or against food waste, started in Austria, Pakistan, Portugal and Ukraine. Our goal is to expand the METRO Volunteer Day 2019 into a METRO Volunteer Week in all 25 METRO Wholesale national subsidiaries.
Donations and sponsorship
METRO actively promotes an intact and attractive social environment by means of donations and sponsorship. The donations and sponsorship guidelines define the way in which measures are to be implemented to generate a positive public image and prevent the misuse of donations and sponsorship. For example, METRO was the title sponsor at the Düsseldorf Marathon for the 15th time in 2018. Our commitment helps strengthen the team spirit and health consciousness among the employees. This year, about 700 employees ran the course again – and in the future we want to promote the event more at our international locations too.