Green Retail World is off and running and it’s fair to say there’s more to write about than we had initially expected. From the introduction of electrical vehicle fleets and new recycling facilities, to the resurgence of the second-hand clothing market and reusable packaging, we’re learning quickly there’s lots going on in the retail space.
If a host of natural disasters around the world linked to climate change and the dramatic David Attenborough-hosted Blue Planet programme hadn’t already kickstarted an eco focus across UK business, recent events certainly have.
The global pandemic has made us all realise how interconnected we are as a species. Against that backdrop – and the fact the UK government is in environmental announcement overdrive ahead of hosting next year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) – retailers are rolling out initiative after initiative to go greener.
As we emphasise regularly on the pages of Green Retail World, nothing in business is particularly sustainable, and our very existence leaves a footprint on the planet. But retailers, like all of us personally, can do things better: we can all consider what impact our actions have on the natural world around us, and act greener.
This monthly blog aims to highlight three noteworthy greener retailing examples I’ve experienced. Last month I talked up Pura, Morrisons, and Sweaty Betty, and there are plenty of other examples of best practice covered on the pages of Green Retail World, all written since I penned that original piece.
On this occasion, I wanted to namecheck Aldi, AO/Boots Kitchen Appliances, and PepsiCo.
Like everyone else, all of these companies’ operations leave a footprint – be it food perished during cross-border transportation, e-waste, or the plastic bottles ending up in the ocean. But they’re all making encouraging moves to be better.
Watching Liverpool’s victory over Ajax in the Champions League the other week, Pepsi’s adverts on the electronic advertising hoardings at Anfield caught my eye. They urged people to “Please Recycle”, and included the global recycling symbol.
It struck me as such an obvious thing for all brands to do. For years, they’ve warned against littering, but right now they need to go several steps further – and Pepsi’s decision to make such a statement in front of a TV audience of millions was commendable.
Indeed, we covered the drinks brand’s new commitment to eliminating all virgin plastic from its Pepsi brand beverage bottles across major European markets by 2022. It is clearly a business aware of its footprint and the negative impact irresponsible plastic disposal has on the world, and it is taking some serious action to combat it.
Closer to home
Meanwhile, in more domestic matters, the Sillitoe household’s veteran washing machine finally packed it in this month. We found a suitable replacement on Boots Kitchen Appliances, a site operated by AO Retail, and paid £15 or so for responsible disposal of the old machine.
The ‘Remove & Recycle’ service cost covers the safe transportation of the product to AO’s recycling plant, in Telford. Under the WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulations, the product manufacturer bears the costs of recycling, which represents the next stage for the machine once arriving at the site. Green Retail World covered an update from AO’s Recycling business division, in November, highlighting some of the work it does.
Finally, and this was my favourite example of greener retailing/shopping for the month, Aldi launched click & collect in my home town, so we decided to test it out.
Communication was good with a SMS reminder on the day of pickup. A further mobile message was required from us in the car park to trigger the goods’ leaving the store, but best of all, in my view, was the biodegradable bags all click & collect orders reside in.
So, once we’d packed the shopping away, we piled up the bags in the cupboard for use with the weekly food waste bin collection. There’s still huge debate about how long it actually takes for biodegradable bags to decompose but, nevertheless, this is a neat example of giving packaging a second life and thinking about wider eco issues.
Nice one, Aldi. Just one of many retailers showing bags of potential when it comes to tackling factors behind the climate crisis. I’ll be back in the new year with some more greener retailing examples, which hopefully provide a bit of inspiration for the wider industry.
Ben Sillitoe (@bsillitoe)
[Image credit: Green Retail World]