Tesco, the UK’s largest grocer, has looked to boost its green credentials with the formation of a research body to study how business and consumers can act in more environmentally friendly ways.

The retail giant has joined forces with The University of Manchester to set up a GBP25m (US$50.7m) project dubbed the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI).

The institute will study how consumers can be “empowered and incentivised” to buy green products and services and how business can adapt to meet customer needs, Tesco said.

Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy said the investment was further proof of the company’s commitment to tackling environmental issues.

“We have already taken a number of significant steps in this direction, for example by announcing our plans to introduce carbon labelling on all our products.” Sir Terry said.

“Making a real difference to global problems will take time, but our support for this partnership with one of the country’s top universities marks another major milestone on the road to a low-carbon future.”

Professor Alan Gilbert, president of the University of Manchester, added: “The partnership will be built on a shared understanding that we need to bring together the best thinking from all sectors to address these critical global concerns.”

As consumers continue to show growing interest in environmental issues, the UK’s major retailers have embarked on a number of initiatives to highlight their commitment to tackling issues like climate change.

Earlier this week, Marks & Spencer said it would open its first two “eco-stores” next month.

The stores, both in Scotland, are designed to be environmentally-friendly – using less energy and emitting 95% less carbon dioxide.

It is just one of the measures M&S has taken under the company’s much-publicised GBP200m Plan A green commitment.