There is a global climate emergency underway. The oceans are warming, the ice sheets are melting, rainforests are burning, and a truckload of plastic enters our oceans every sixty seconds. In line with Iceland’s ‘Doing it Right’ plan and corporate activism campaigns led by Trustee Richard Walker, IFCF is proud to support projects tackling the environmental crisis here in the UK.
“We care about the rainforest and we care about plastic – and we’re proud of what we’re doing. But the thing we care most about are the kids who are struggling in our neighbourhoods because we see them every week.”
Iceland employs over 30,000 people and almost 80% of our store colleagues live within 3 miles of their workplace. They let us know what’s really important to them and their customers, and their support for the IFCF has enabled us to make a real difference in the communities we serve.
Colleagues were keen to work with the Foundation to create ways to help families support and protect the environment.
During our first Backyard Nature mission to ‘Save the Bees’, we gave away 330,000 seedballs to children from every Iceland and The Food Warehouse stores in the country, planting 15 million wildflower seeds. Our second mission ‘Love Bugs’ saw 300,000 bug hotels given away for free to help children protect the bugs and insects on their patch of nature.
Backyard Nature is a national campaign for children, funded by the IFCF and grown by Semble, the UK’s leading organisation for grassroots community projects.
Our goal is to get all children to spend more time enjoying and protecting nature where they live. Inspired by a group of young, inner-city environmentalists from Anfield, Liverpool, Backyard Nature aims to inspire a million hours of nature engagement for children in the UK.
Across the globe, peatlands occupy only 3% of the world’s land area but store over 30% of global carbon, making them essential in the fight against climate change.
Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation awarded £94,000 to Wildlife Trusts Wales, playing a pivotal role in this ambitious move by investing now to realise this vision.
Richard Walker, Managing Director of Iceland and IFCF Trustee, said: “Welsh peatlands are such an invaluable part of our environment, providing essential habitats for amazing wildlife across the country and locking away massive amounts of carbon. By funding the restoration of this crucial part of our ecosystem, we are supporting the Wildlife Trust’s vision to lock up more carbon, restore nature, filter water and reduce flood risks for local communities. I am delighted that by returning the peatlands to their former glory, it will help will benefit people and the environment immediately and in the future.”
Wildlife Trusts Wales
Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation (IFCF) has backed ambitious plans by Wildlife Trusts Wales (WTW) to seek the restoration of all welsh peatlands by 2030.
With the effects of climate change ever more apparent, we are delighted that our partnership with WTW is working to restore nature and mitigate the effects of climate change through restoring peatlands in Wales.
Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed plants. The plants don’t decay because the soil is waterlogged, stopping oxygen getting in to decompose the leaves and stems. As long as peat stays wet, the layers of decaying plants increase. However, this process is lengthy, with one metre of peat taking up to 100 years to form! As plants decompose, they release carbon dioxide (CO2). But since peat stops decomposition from taking place, it locks all that carbon away. Peat is so successful at locking in carbon that despite only occupying 3% of the worlds land, they store over 30% of global carbon!
By restoring these essential habitats, we not only lock away carbon but also provide places for rare and wonderful wildlife to live. Not to mention its incredible ability to hold five times its own weight in water! Peat acts as a giant sponge, holding back floodwaters and as a result keeping our homes safe and dry. As water passes through these giant sponges, it is cleaned, resulting in fresh, clean water for wildlife and humans to enjoy. It’s a win-win for people and for wildlife.
Wales is globally significant for peat, with 90,000 hectares of peat soil, but sadly the majority are in poor condition. This is due to the need to drain and fertilise the land to grow grass to feed sheep. Currently, Welsh peat releases around 550,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere every year. If this were to continue, it would be the equivalent to 15 years’ worth of Wales’s total CO2 emissions!
WTW want to reverse this trend by developing projects to restore Welsh peatlands by 2030. They are working with partners like ourselves to raise awareness and to influence the future management of peatlands.
We want to see a future where peatlands can lock up carbon, filter our water, provide safe spaces for endangered wildlife to live, and alleviate flooding of Welsh homes by creating natural water storage.
IFCF was proud to sponsor the UK’s first ever Plastic Free Awards in November 2019, in partnership with SAS. The event honoured and celebrated the remarkable campaigners, entrepreneurs, community volunteers, youth activists and influencers who are playing leading roles in the fight against plastic pollution.
IFCF continued its sponsorship of the Plastic Free Awards in June 2023.
Surfers Against Sewage
Our partnership with SAS has seen thousands of people coming together in their communities to rid our beaches, riverbanks, mountains and streets of plastic pollution, in the UK’s biggest ever environmental clean-up event.
IFCF supported the first Big Spring Beach Clean: Summit to Sea which took place in April 2019, with more than 45,000 volunteers joining over 750 community clean up events. Together, they collected almost 72 tonnes of marine plastic, equal to 18,000 full bin bags!
IFCF pledged to continue as Lead Partner of the ‘Million Mile Clean’ in 2021, 2022 and 2023. The environmental initiative encourages people to get out locally, on streets, country lanes, in parks and along local waterways to tackle plastic pollution and litter. The campaign aims to reconnect people with their local environment to help their physical and mental wellbeing. IFCF is the lead partner for the campaign over the next three years, building on its previous support for nationwide beach cleans.
To find out dates of Million Mile Cleans taking place in your area and how to take part, visit beachcleans.org.uk.
In June 2023 Iceland colleagues carried out their own beach clean – check out the video below to find out more.
“We are delighted to be partnering with Iceland Foods Charitable Foundation to expand and celebrate the Plastic-Free Communities movement throughout the UK. Together we will be empowering 100,000 community volunteers to tackle plastic pollution and litter in beaches, coastal paths, mountains, rivers, rural and urban areas.”
SAS Chief Executive