You did it! Waitrose puts Shell relationship on ice

Posted by sara_a — 12 December 2012 at 1:34pm - Comments
All rights reserved. Credit: Greenpeace

Today we received the great news that after only 12 days of our intensive campaign, Waitrose has announced it has put its partnership with Arctic oil drillers Shell on ice. 

After 40,000 emails from you, several store visits, one spoof video, hundreds of Facebook posts, a social media meltdown, and the appearance of a life-size polar bear at their Islington store yesterday, Waitrose has declared support for the protection of the fragile Arctic. 

Waitrose recently opened two pilot stores in Shell forecourts with a view to rolling out the 'new joint format' more widely. In a press statement this summer Shell said 'the plan is to expand [the project] later this year'. Waitrose also sold 13 petrol stations to Shell at its out of town superstores.

When we heard of the partnership, we were shocked. We've worked closely with Waitrose in the past to help them source fish more sustainably. The company has built its brand on its environmental credentials and we know that many of its customers make an ethical choice to shop there.


Shell, by contrast, is one of the most destructive oil companies in the world. This summer Shell tried (and failed) to drill for oil in the Arctic, after a catalogue of disasters which included breaking the oil spill response equipment during testing. But Shell plans to continue next year, putting at risk one of the last pristine ecosystems on the planet and the unique creatures that live there, including polar bears, narwhals and Arctic foxes. 

So just under two weeks ago we launched a campaign, asking Waitrose to dump Shell and to stop helping these toxic oil-drillers look in any way respectable. 

We had an amazing response and Waitrose yesterday told us they would not be extending its pilot stores on Shell forecourts in 2013. The company has also announced support for protection of the Arctic, saying: "we share the view that the Arctic should be declared a sanctuary by the United Nations." 

Please help us keep the Arctic safe. Join the global movement to save the Arctic.

Thank god they saw sense, hopefully the few remaining polar bears will stand a chance now.

Well done Waitrose - hopefully just a peculiar blip and they won't try this again. Now to stop Shell's drilling plans.

I just recieved the e-mail from you guys to tell me the awesome news - I am so pleased. I feel like my voice was heard, its great changing the world for better with just an e-mail to add to that 40,000

Congratulations Greenpeace on bullying a ethical company into submission. However you might have wanted to stop and think before you acted. Now that Shell has no partnershisp with an ethical companies, they are free to drill for oil in the artic without having to worry about pressure from their business partners who have genuine concern from the environment. This result will make the whole process much easier for them, I bet they are delighted.

So to conclude, a whole lot of noise, and a result that is worse than when you started.

Once again, well done on a well thought out campain

I couldn't agree more with Anonymous999 (posted 12 December 2012 at 10:37pm)

Whilst I completely agree that we all need to take action against companies like Shell for their drilling work in the Arctic, forcing Waitrose to breakdown its business plans with Shell only dilutes the ability of Waitrose to pressure Shell with environmental concerns in the future.

Had Greenpeace come up with a better way of campaigning and 'working with Waitrose' like it has with 'sustainable fish' as highlighted in the report above, they could have imbedded their environmental philosophies into a working relationship with Waitrose and in turn been constructive in influencing change in Shell's plans in the arctic as Waitrose's partnership grew with Shell.

I am so disappointed in Greenpeace that only a short term mind set was applied in their Shell will go on with their own business agenda in the arctic...and if Waitrose feel strongly against Shell's drilling plans going forward in 2013...Waitrose will have such a 'small' voice now because their relationship with Shell has now stalled thanks to Greenpeace!!!

Well done!!!

@ George Thomas and Anonymous 999.  Surely the most important thing is that Shell have been sent a clear message that there is no place for the use of fossil fuels, they are simply incompatible with a sustainable future.  The sooner companies like Shell pack up and go home the better.

 @ Green Dream (posted 13 December 2012 at 10:19am)

Fair point Green Dream, I guess I'm just annoyed as a 'Green' minded person when it comes to the environment, that Shell will now have less pressure going forward in the 'board room' from companies like Waitrose as the relationship has now died down.

Personally I hate relying on fossil fuels and I can't wait to one day buy an afforable electric car which has a reasonable mileage per charge like the Tesla Model S.

If only we had more land to grow on in the world, oil companies could invest in and move to sugarcane ethonal prodcution like Brazil....but that's a huge challenge in itself due to the need to feed the world on existing arable land.

Green Dream... I think you have been smoking too much of the Green! Waitrose has an impecible stance on a sustainable environment. They would have been more than able to influence Shell on their ethivcal views. No oil company will ever just "pack up and go home" The world relies on oil far too much, What we should all be doing is putting more effort into working with oil companies to improve their impact, whilst we all strive to find an ecological alternative. All I can see here is people thinking it is themselves "Campaigning" that has halted this partnership when in-fact, they have not, and have only made things worse!

help the Arctic and don't support the Arctic drilling that shell wants
to do. Instead see if you can persuade them out of it?!Waitrose's response: Hi Tanja,

share Greenpeace’s anxieties about the future of the Arctic and the
need to protect it. Minimising our environmental impact and combatting
climate change are driving forces for Waitrose. Indeed, our endeavour is
to be a restorative retailer.

give just a few practical examples: we have installed revolutionary
water-propane refrigeration technology and are sourcing renewable
electricity for all our shops; we will this year reach our goal of
sending no food waste to landfill; we sell only fish that is sustainably
sourced or responsibly farmed and we are trialling the use of waste to
generate bio-gas to fuel our vehicles.

In addition, sustaining and enhancing biodiversity is a fundamental part of our agricultural strategy.

no longer sell petrol having handed over our thirteen filling stations
to Shell. We also sell Waitrose products in two other kiosks on Shell
forecourts - we do not plan to increase this number next year. Like all
our competitors, from time to time we run promotions with Shell to
help customers in these difficult economic times; but our presence on
forecourts amounts to just fifteen kiosks selling snacks and

Waitrose understands that the earth’s resources are finite and this fact underpins how we plan and conduct our business.

is why we share the view that the Arctic should be declared a sanctuary
by the United Nations until it is proved that any drilling or similar
activity can be done without causing irreversible environmental damage
to this most precious, fragile ecosystem that is home to some remarkable
and important species including polar bears, narwhals and the Arctic
fox.About 5 mins ago.They are acknowledging it, but are waffling. They will keep what they have and use this. But reading between the lines, they don't want to get involved?! What do you guys think of this? If we could persuade 2 giants to work with the environment instead of against it. Wouldn't that be amazing? Now we need to just persuade shell going into arctic is a bad idea.....I am ready to add pressure now... sooner the better. United we stand.

Surely the most important thing is that Shell have been sent a clear message that there is no place for the use of fossil fuels, they are simply incompatible with a sustainable future.  The sooner companies like Shell pack up and go home the better

Thank you for posting.Very well written.Waiting for updating .

Now, I think this was probably the right thing to do, overall but what must, MUST be seen as part of this picture is *rewarding* Waitrose and the John Lewis partnership for stepping away.

Think of it as the Greenpeace flashmob or something but there is nothing wrong with saying to Greenpeace members 'Well done, and if you are indulging in consumer spending for some reason during December, make a point of spending in Waitrose / John Lewis and telling them why".

There's nothing wrong with suggesting it, doesn't stop everyone still being a bunch of handwringing goody-two-shoes!

FTR, I think the JLP would have been able to put no pressure on Shell whatsoever. A mere fly buzzing around their multi-billion behemoth . However, this is going to cause Waitrose a lot of opportunity cost - that could include jobs, both direct and indirect and they're a *much* better bunch than basically anyone else on the high street so - time to acknowledge that, be grateful and change the tone slightly away from the crowing, I think.

(And no, I don't work for them, before you ask, and yes,m I am a greenpeace member, not a mischief maker).





Anonymous  13.  You claim that Waitrose have a good record with respect to the environment. In relative terms I'm sure this is true but frankly they are still a cog in the unsustainable consumerist system that we need to displace to ensure a long term future for the planet.  In some respects Waitrose could be considered to be worse environmentally than other supermarket brands because they pander to rich customers who inevitably consume many more resources than the poor.  

In the long term supermarkets are just not compatible with a sustainable future.  I know this will be hard for many to accept right now but we need to keep gradually moving back towards a pre-industrial economy.  Agenda 21 provides a great blueprint to achieve this.

Don't be fooled by Waitrose.  They are not sincere.  This is just a PR move for them.  They are presently foisting a huge warehouse-sized supermarket development on a local village here on the edge of the South Downs National Park in Sussex that is totally inappropriate in scale and that will bring increased traffic and pollution to the area and take business away from the local shops.  Despite strong protest they have only cosmetically altered their plans, which unfortunately seem set to be approved soon. Behind Waitrose's carefully cultivated, responsible facade, they are actually no different to other supermarket chains in their aggressive efforts to boost their market share at the expense of the health and cohesion of local communities.

Waitrose is very wise to put the brakes on its relationship with Shell. It would have been very difficult for them to pressure Shell into more sustainable behaviour once a large mutually dependent infrastructure was in place unless there were contractual clauses in place forcing Shell's hand. Meantime Waitrose would have been in danger of compromising its image with a large part of its loyal customer base. They have spent years and loads of money on that image, making themselves appear a bit different from the other supermarkets. Why throw it away? It's fundamental good marketing sense to hang on to your USPs (unique selling points).

Shell's cosying up to Waitrose is part of a long term strategy to improve its public image by linking to organisations with sounder ethical credentials, hoping some will rub off on them. This summer they gave away fuel discount vouchers to Nationwide card holders. Nationwide likes to hammer the message that they are owned by their customers, as a building society, and are presumably less ruthless than the high street banks. BP has a slightly different approach to polishing its image as a good corporate citizen: by sponsoring art and culture bodies like the British Museum, Tate Gallery and Royal Shakespeare Company. Should we call this blood money?

These oil companies which are gambling with our future have to be denied the opportunity to put a gloss on their activities. There is opportunity for pressure to reform to come through commercial relationships, but in the short term this is more likely to come from the investors, many of whom see the Arctic exploration projects as very hazardous financially. There are good sensible people working inside these oil companies as well as the carbon junkies. They need the space to speak out and speak louder.

Meanwhile, good on Mark Price, CEO of Waitrose. This time The Price is Right! (been waiting for a chance to say that).


Why do we take it out on Shell when we know that there are far more and far worse Russian companies. Would it not be better BIG (Greenpeace) VS SMALL(Polluting Russian Oil Companies) and win many of the small battles, than investing so much time effort and money into Shell?





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I really appreciate this post. I’ve been looking all over for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You’ve made my day! Thanks again!

Well done! the post so interesting! Thanks

Surely the most important thing is that Shell have been sent a
clear message that there is no place for the use of fossil fuels, they
are simply incompatible with a sustainable future.  The sooner companies
like Shell pack up and go home the better

Arctic should be a sanctuary by the United Nations!

Thanks share!

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