UK Retailers sign up for Retail Sustainability Initiative

15th March 2018

This week more than 25 UK retailers announced that they have signed up for a special retail sustainability initiative, pledging to ‘lead the fight’ in sustainability with a raft of proposals designed to tackle many global sustainability challenges recently defined by the UN. The retail sector is one of the first industries to develop such an initiative to take collective action and it is hoped that other industries will follow.

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Using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework, retailers including Ocado, Dixons Carphone and Sainsburys have developed their own strategy, ‘Better Retail Better World’, in order to address issues including deforestation, modern slavery and greenhouse gas emissions.

The initiative is being launched at a special event in parliament today, which will be attended by both government and retail representatives along with environmentalists and campaigners.

The retailers will be using the initiative to share best practices and knowledge in relation to the issues outlined in the SDGs, with full transparency to disclose how they are helping people from underrepresented backgrounds as part of a growing movement for change.

A lady in a red coat gazes into a store window

Chairman of the British Retail Consortium, Richard Pennycook explained the idea behind the initiative:

“It is time for the retail industry to show what it can do for the common good. We are taking collective action to build a better, more prosperous and sustainable world, and demonstrating how we are making a positive contribution to society, in terms of the supply chain, food packaging, and waste.”

The move is being supported by other stakeholders and associations who have been campaigning for change, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). Their Chief Executive, Tanya Steele is described her excitement at the move:

“We are delighted to support the Better Retail Better World industry goals which provide BRC members with some of the best information and guidance to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals.

“The goals are what the SDGs are all about: bringing business, civil society and government together to bring about change in the world. Retail businesses working with consumers are key to the success of the SDGs and key in the race to restore nature.”

Of course as reported here on the blog earlier this year, it isn’t just the environment that benefits from this kind of policy. Following the broadcast of Sir David Attenborough’s Blue Planet program about plastic waste last year, consumers are becoming increasingly aware and concerned about the environmental impact of plastic packaging and other retail production methods. So it also makes good economic sense for retailers to demonstrate that they are taking action on sustainability and environmental issues as customers will vote with their feet when it comes to choosing products that are created and packaged in a sustainable fashion.

Does your retail business have a sustainability policy? Have you started to reduce your plastic packaging or look at other ways to reduce emissions? Let us know in the comments section below.


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