METROCENTRE Gateshead has launched a new sustainability initiative, Tree Buddies, in a bid to reduce the Carbon Footprint generated from staff travel to and from work.

Tree Buddies sees Metrocentre partner with local schools across the region to re-wild their green spaces and plant trees to reduce the impact of emissions generated by staff travel.

Ryton Junior School, Bridgewater Primary, Swalwell Primary and Shotley Bridge Infants and Juniors were the first schools to engage with the initiative last year and to date, 50 trees have been planted, offsetting carbon emissions from 400 staff journeys.

As part of the school visits, the Metrocentre team provides a presentation to engage pupils on tackling climate change and how the tree planting scheme will benefit the environment. Over 600 pupils have participated so far, with many more school visits planned in 2024 from February onward, as Metrocentre continues its commitment to sustainability and the community.

Gavin Prior, Centre Director, said: “At Metrocentre, we’re constantly looking for new ways to operate in a more sustainable way and participating in Tree Buddies is another example of this. Not only are we helping local schools to transform their outdoor spaces, but we’re reducing our impact on the environment at the same time.

“We know Gateshead has an ambitious plan to go zero carbon by 2030, so we are proud to be actively working towards this common goal by offsetting the Carbon Emissions generated by our staff travelling to and from work. This initiative plays an important role in our long-term business strategy for the centre which focusses on sustainability.”

Esther Wilson White from Shotley Bridge Junior School said “The children were so excited to take part in such a beneficial project as we have been learning all about climate change recently. It was lovely to see how well the Metrocentre volunteers interacted with the children".

The Tree Buddies initiative follows Metrocentre’s successful award winning installation of 3,500 solar rooftop and car port panels, the largest solar panel array of any UK shopping centre, and the installation of over 100 EV charging units, with plans in place to increase this to 174 in 2024.