Green claims under scrutiny

December 2020

Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from Halfords, Carrefour, Superdrug, and others…


December news in brief

Running a business leaves a carbon footprint, so any sustainability claims must always be taken with a pinch of salt.

But that’s not to say organisations cannot be greener – and improve their environmental credentials. Indeed, every week we’re hearing of new commercial initiatives that purport to be better for the planet.

Green Retail World’s aim is to highlight when retailers and brands are doing things better and greener – and there are plenty of examples out there. Their inclusion on these pages is not to say they are a sustainable or green business per se.

Each month, this section of the site provides a rolling ticker of industry announcements, initiatives, and manoeuvres related to the green agenda. There will be quick snippets listed on these pages, highlighting what this publication believes are examples of retailers taking a step in the right direction to help reduce their impact on the planet.

Here’s a list of good practice from November. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen this month:


22 December 2020:

Waitrose adds new product lines to ‘Unpacked’ trial

Supermarket chain Waitrose has added new product lines to its four ‘Unpacked’ stores in the UK, which feature goods that can be refilled without customers having to acquire additional packaging.

The Unpacked trial, which began in 2019, is testing how customers might shop in the future and is a move to reduce the amount of plastic the retailer uses in its operations. Waitrose shops in Abingdon, Cheltenham, Oxford Botley Road, and Wallingford all have refillable zones, and they include dispensers for dried products, frozen pick and mix, coffee, cereals, wine, beer, detergent, and washing up liquid.

They have now added couscous, chickpeas, diced blueberries, pearl barley, red kidney beans, wholewheat penne pasta, and additional beers.

Read about other refillable retail concepts on Green Retail World


18 December 2020: Superdry founder back as permenent CEO – and he’s got a green agenda

Superdry founder Julian Dunkerton was appointed CEO again, on a permanent basis, this week. He will be supported by Silvana Bonello, who will arrive at the company as chief operating officer in March 2021.

When announcing the appointments this week, Superdry talked up its ambitions to become “a world-class, sustainable fashion brand”, and said sustainability will be “a primary area of focus for Julian”, who will directly oversee the progression of Superdry’s environmental and sustainability agenda.

Fashion retail is under huge pressure to operate in a greener way. Green Retail World will cover the initiatives that show companies moving in the right direction.


17 December 2020: B&Q and Screwfix owner is founding member of Forest Allies group

B&Q and Screwfix parent company Kingfisher said today it is a founding member of Forest Allies, a Rainforest Alliance partnership that aims to support reforestation and restoration projects.

As part of its commitment to collaboration, the DIY retail group will engage with forest communities in its key tropical sourcing regions. It is part of the organisation’s promise to create more forests than it uses across its business – by 2025.

Working with the Rainforest Alliance and alongside other corporate partners, such as FMCG titan Procter & Gamble, Kingfisher will support the implementation of ‘Integrated Community Forest Management’ which aims to help deliver on outcomes such as maintaining and restoring forests and improving biodiversity and livelihoods for forest communities.

Thierry Garnier, CEO of Kingfisher, said: “We are one of the largest buyers of wood products in Europe, so we have a significant footprint.

“Therefore, the partnership we’re announcing today with the Rainforest Alliance presents an opportunity to work with strategic partners to respond to the challenges of deforestation and builds on our heritage of leading the industry in the responsible sourcing of wood.”


16 December 2020: Hello and welcome to the European Plastics Pact Roadmap

The European Plastics Pact, which was launched in Brussels on 6 March 2020, has published the European Plastics Pact Roadmap “to direct and drive forward urgent action by the 143 signatories, across 20 countries”.

This plan has been devised to help signatories, including Auchan, Carrefour, Unilever, and various European government departments, NGOs, and eco groups, develop cross-border connections and share innovations that support the Europe-wide development of a circular economy for plastics, and significantly reduce the huge challenge of plastic wastage and littering.


15 December 2020: Boots recycling scheme hits one tonne landmark

Health and beauty retailer Boots has said its No7-branded in-store recycling scheme, which it launched in September, has already recycled over one tonne of plastic.

The retailer said over 30,000 customers have signed up for the scheme, recycling more than 100,000 empty products in total. Consumers can register to bring in used packaging from multiple beauty brands, in return for Boots Advantage Card points.

Boots has worked with ReWorked and Scan2Recycle to bring the initiative to life.

Read more about the scheme on Green Retail World


14 December 2020: Walkers turning potato waste to fertiliser

Walkers crisps, one of the largest buyers of British potatoes, is partnering with British clean-tech firm CCm Technologies to reduce its carbon footprint, by turning its potato waste into fertiliser.

Last week, the PepsiCo-owned snacks brand announced it is using innovative technology to manufacture low-carbon, nutrient-rich fertiliser using potato peelings. The fertiliser will be supplied to UK farmers growing potatoes for Walkers crisps from next year, in what it described as a move to close the loop in potato production.

The move comes after a trial of the fertiliser, which was applied to potato seed beds this year, was deemed encouraging by the parties involved. Walkers is planning to install CCm’s specialist equipment at its Leicester factory next year to begin wider production in preparation for its 2022 crop.

Once supplied at scale, the fertiliser is predicted to reduce Walkers’ potato-based carbon emissions by 70%. Meanwhile, the technology is designed to connect to the factory’s anaerobic digestor, which uses food waste to generate nearly 75% of the electricity used at the facility.


11 December 2020: Bensons for Beds offers electric incentive to customers

From this week, Bensons for Beds has started using a new electric-powered van to deliver its Rollo by Slumberland mattress to customers’ homes. It is part of a small-scale trial in London, Kent, Cambridge, Essex and Milton Keynes, involving orders serviced by its Dagenham distribution centre.

The trial could be expanded if successful.

Across the UK, the retailer is offering a 10% discount on the price of that product for people who opt to collect their purchase from their local store, and who arrive at the shop in a hybrid or electric car themselves.


11 December 2020: WHSmith targets ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2025 and extends stationery recycling scheme

WHSmith has vowed to reach net zero carbon emissions by the end of 2021 for its UK operations, and by 2025 for its international business arm.

Now, as ever with these statements, the devil is in the detail as opposed to the headline grabbing soundbites. The retailer’s Sustainability Report 2020, which has been published, has all the detail.

One snippet, amid the wider strategy, read: “This year in our high street stores, we extended our stationery takeback scheme developed in conjunction with the stationery manufacturer, BIC, into more store locations to provide a facility for customers to return plastic pens for recycling at the end of their life.”


11 December 2020: Iceland claims significant plastic packaging reduction for Christmas range

Frozen food retailer Iceland’s managing director, Richard Walker, took to Twitter to claim a plastic packaging reduction for the company’s Christmas 2020 range.

“I’m absolutely delighted with the progress we’ve made this year to double the number of products in reduced plastic packaging in our Christmas range,” he stated.

“I would like to thank our team and suppliers for helping to make real progress in reducing the impact plastic has on our planet.”

Read more about Iceland’s plastic footprint reporting processes on Green Retail World


10 December 2020: AO publishes sustainability landing page

Consumer electronics e-tailer has published a landing page showcasing how the wider group is putting its green agenda into place.

The company said it “will enable people to find all our green initiatives from across the AO group in one handy place and includes all the great work we do here at AO Recycling”.

AO’s move to launch such as page is nothing new for the industry per se, but some of its work stands out for its uniqueness. It part owns an e-waste recycling plant, and the AO Recycling arm of the business posts its own revenue and progress updates as part of group trading statements.


9 December 2020: Carrefour extends Loop partnership to stores

French grocery titan Carrefour has this week extended its partnership with reusable packaging organisation, Loop, a company owned by Terracycle.

Already available to online shoppers in France, Loop products are now stocked in two Parisian Carrefour shops – in Bizot and Beaupassage. The plan is for the products to be available in ten Carrefour shops by the end of the year and rolled out more widely in 2021.

From glass yoghurt pots to dishwasher tablets in aluminium containers, customers can purchase several ranges from some well-known brands from these stores. Once used, consumers can bring back the packaging to the store, and Loop professionally cleans it and uses it for new products.

Read about Tesco’s Loop partnership in the UK on Green Retail World


8 December 2020: Halfords launches green number plates

Green number plates for zero emission cars have launched today, and Halfords said its first customer was the transport secretary, Grant Shapps.

Shapps visited Halfords in Welwyn Garden City to have plates fitted to his Tesla. The introduction of green plates – which are available from multiple car parts retailers and garages – aims to make it simpler for councils to spot zero emission vehicles, which qualify for incentives such as cheaper parking or bypassing congestion zone charges in some parts of the UK.

Halfords is selling the green number plates for £18 each, or £36 for the pair.

Read more about retailers and electric vehicles on Green Retail World


4 December 2020: Waitrose publishes Food and Drink Report 2021

Multiple environment-related consumer concerns were highlighted in the latest Waitrose Food & Drink Report, which was published today.

A few snippets, which should help shape the supermarket’s and the wider grocery sector’s thinking, are, as follows:

  • Three-quarters of the 2,000 people polled by OnePoll on behalf of Waitrose said they feel ashamed when they waste food. As a result, 77% of respondents tried not to waste food over the pandemic, and of these 83% will carry on doing so post-Covid.
  • Half of respondents said they are now making a conscious effort to save energy at home – switching off lights or keeping the heating a bit lower.
  • 60% said they want UK businesses to bring forward their carbon net zero commitments.
  • One-third of consumers would like to see supermarkets commit to helping reduce deforestation.
  • 41% of people surveyed want to see supermarkets do more to cut food waste, with three-quarters saying they’d like to see suppliers use surplus food to help tackle poverty in the UK.

Looking at future sustainable food production and procurement, the report, which can be read in full here, said: “The global population is set to reach 9.8 billion by 2050 and reducing food waste and using surplus materials could be critical in helping to feed them.

“Whether it’s utilising fresh by-product on farm or insects to create alternative animal feed, or using less than perfect fruits and vegetables to make cordials and juices, there are countless ways we can use by-product practically and this will only grow in the coming decade.”

It added: “Global fish stocks and many marine ecosystems are under threat following decades of overexploitation, but it is not too late to stem the tide.

“In the wild, regenerative agriculture practices such as the “rewilding” of vulnerable ecosystems via marine protected areas could help revitalise our oceans. In aquaculture systems, the future could see the creation of multi-trophic aquaculture farms, and use of circular systems utilising by products from wild fisheries for aquaculture feed or farmed fish waste to cultivate fresh produce.”

Food for thought.

Check out Green Retail World’s latest food waste story


3 December 2020: Huggies launches ‘biodegradable’ wipes

Baby products brand Huggies has launched a range of plastic-free wipes it says are made with “100% naturally derived fibres” and which biodegrade in landfill conditions in a fortnight.

The move is in response to consumer pressure for baby wipe and nappy manufacturers to ensure their products have less of an impact on the national environment.

Huggies parent company Kimberly Clark said independent testing in simulated landfill conditions resulted in the Huggies Pure Biodegradable wipes biodegrading in 15 days. The business claims it is Huggies’ first biodegradable product.

The product will be available across the UK in due course, starting at select Asda and Morrisons stores.

Earlier this year, Pura launched into the babycare market with a complete range of plastic-free wipes. The direct-to-consumer subscription business promised to shake up the sector, with a mission to drive plastic out of baby wipe production.


2 December 2020: Superdrug halves festive plastic packaging for 2020

Health and beauty retailer Superdrug said it has significantly reduced plastic packaging for its own-brand Christmas gifting range in 2020.

The business claimed it has reduced festive packaging, including plastic and paper, by 27% compared to last year. The amount of plastic it has used this year has dropped by 50%, which it said has saved more than 17 tonnes of virgin plastic.

Superdrug noted the largest reduction in its packaging is PE plastic, with the retailer cutting this material from its own festive ranges by 76%. Nearly all plastic vacuum trays have been removed from the company’s gift sets for this year’s peak period, although three vacuum trays remain across the range.

It listed its Fantasy Cosy Socks, Bloom Hat Box, and Personalised Prosecco & Shimmer sets as using no plastic packaging at all.


1 December 2020: PayPoint and Bulb announce new in-store payment partnership

Retail payments services platform PayPoint has announced a partnership with sustainable energy provider, Bulb.

Bulb’s customers will now be able to pay for their energy top-ups at 27,500 convenience stores across the UK, as a result of the tie-up. The deal means Bulb customers can top up their prepayment meters – whether they have a traditional or smart meter – at any PayPoint-using shop.


1 December 2020: Sosandar plans new ‘greener’ packaging play in 2021

Women’s fashion e-tailer Sosandar said that, in the new year, it expects to introduce “carbon negative delivery bags” to complement the cardboard boxes it currently uses when shopping products to its customers.

In its half-year results announcement, which showed year-on-year revenue growth of 52% to £4.28 million for the six months to the end of September, it said the decision followed its customers’ increasing desire to shop sustainably.

Green Retail World understands Sosandar will use these 100% recyclable bioplastic bags for the majority of its orders. The company said they are described as “carbon negative bags” because the polyethylene used to make them is a natural by-product from Brazilian sugarcane, and the CO2 absorbed by the Sugarcane plant apparently offsets the amount of CO2 produced when making the packaging.

The retailer is looking to introduce this new packaging early in the new year.

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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