Sea and waves

January 2021

Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from Costa Coffee, Dove, Heinz, and others…

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January 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 December. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen this month:

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31 January 2021: Tesco launches sustainability-linked bond

The UK’s largest retailer, Tesco, has launched a bond linked to the its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The grocer said making such a move for the first time showed its commitment to reduce its impact on the environment and become a net-zero carbon business in the UK by 2035.

The €750 million bond with a 0.375% coupon offers an 8.5-year maturity and is the first bond of its kind to be issued by a retailer. It comes after Tesco established a £2.5 billion revolving credit facility, in October 2020, which has interest linked to the achievement of three environmental targets.

The bond is aligned to the grocer’s sustainability performance target of reducing “Scope 1” and “Scope 2” group GHG emissions by 60% by 2025 against its 2015 baseline. It is also aligned to a newly introduced ‘Sustainability-Bond Framework’, which follows the International Capital Market Association’s sustainability-linked bond principles, and has been independently assessed by Sustainalytics.

Alan Stewart, chief financial officer at Tesco, said: “Linking our financial strategy to our long-term commitment to tackle sustainability is an important step in ensuring that this commitment is embedded across all our business operations and ensures we are driving continuous improvement.”

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29 January 2021: CMA finds 40% of green claims could be misleading

A Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has coordinated a global review of randomly selected websites and has so far found that 40% of green claims made online could be misleading consumers.

The International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network hosts an annual sweep of websites, enabling authorities to target fraudulent, deceptive or unfair conduct online. The CMA and the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets led the latest sweep, focusing on misleading environmental claims for the first time.

Members found that four in ten of these websites appeared to be using tactics that could be considered misleading and therefore potentially break consumer law. Included within this were vague claims and unclear language including terms such as ‘eco’ or ‘sustainable’ or reference to ‘natural products’ without adequate evidence.

There were also examples of own brand eco logos not associated with any accredited organisation.

Read more about CMA’s ongoing investigation into eco claims, on Green Retail World

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27 January 2021: Farfetch looks to grow ‘circular’ team

Online fashion marketplace and technology company Farfetch is recruiting for a sustainable business executive.

Reporting into the senior sustainable business manager (circular), currently Emma Britton, the new recruit will support in the development and execution of Farfetch’s group-wide ‘Positively Circular’ strategy. It will involve managing the execution, tracking and optimisation of marketing activities for Farfetch’s circular services, as well as identifying new ‘circular’ marketing and growth opportunities.

The job ad states: “You will help develop our Positively Circular strategy to design waste out of fashion and extend the life of clothes, while ensuring we meet targets and unlock new opportunities for positive growth.

“We are looking for someone with project management skills and who is comfortable working with multiple teams in an evolving environment.”

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26 January 2021: Johnsons hands back laundry and dry cleaning in reusable bags

Dry cleaner and laundry service provider Johnsons, which is part of the Timpson Group, has started handing back laundry and cleaning in polyrobe bags designed to be reused for holding domestic rubbish.

With a “Reuse me as a bin bag” message printed on the bags, the aim is to encourage consumers to avoid using the material for just one occasion.

The retailer is also calling on its staff to switch customers to garment bags where possible, which it says can be used at least 30 times. They are already used for ‘Premier’ and ‘Priority Customers’, but the business wants to use these instead of polyrobe wherever possible, and is keen to educate shoppers about the associated benefits.

Johnsons is also replacing plastic bags with paper equivalents in its stores across the UK.

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26 January 2021: Corporate Knights publishes list of ‘the most sustainable corporations’

Canada-based media, research and financial information products company, Corporate Knights, has produced its latest index of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations.

Schneider Electric tops the list, and retailers, brands and brand houses indexed include Kering, Adidas, Henkel, and Unilever.

See the full list here. For some background information about the history of the index and details about the criteria for inclusion, click here.

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25 January 2021: Dove launches refillable deodorant in US

Unilever brand Dove has launched a refillable deodorant for the US market, as part of its green agenda.

“We believe that to create a lasting change, we need to shift our mindsets – to buy less, but better,” says Dove.

Consumers can now buy a refillable bottle, which when empty requires users to attach a refill onto the base rather than throwing away the used item. The bottle is made from stainless steel, and comes with a lifetime guarantee.

“In order to keep the deodorant fresh and hygienic, plastic is still necessary – but to minimise its impact, we use 54% less plastic in our eco-friendly deodorant refills than in a regular Dove 0% stick pack,” the company states.

The smaller amount of plastic used in the refills is 98% recycled, according to the brand.

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22 January 2021: Iceland boss to release ‘The Green Grocer’ corporate activism book

Iceland managing director, Richard Walker, has announced the launch of a new book, which he describes as “a manifesto for corporate activism”.

The Green Grocer, which will cover issues around sustainability and explores Walker’s life and business lessons, is available on pre-order. It is offically out in April.

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21 January 2021: Heinz beans get paperboard packaging makeover

Heinz is removing plastic packaging from all its multipacks in 2021, and is instead set to use paperboard sleeves to keep tin bundles in place.

It is part of a £25 million, three-year investment in ‘sustainable’ packaging, and the new-style multipack material will be launched via the company’s recently unveiled direct-to-consumer offering, Heinz to Home.

The plastic-free packaging will be used for the Heinz soup bundle, with Heinz to Home set to be used as a feedback and insights channel for consumers ahead of the wider roll out of the material later in 2021.

The PEFC-certified paperboard used for the new packaging sleeve is fully recyclable and comes from renewable and sustainably managed forests, according to Heinz.

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20 January 2021: BRC hunts for sustainability policy adviser

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) trade association is on the hunt for an experienced environmental policy expert to help advance the retail industry’s positions on the circular economy, resources, packaging and waste, among other commitments.

The role is a nine-month fixed-term contract, to cover incumbent Leah Tiley Brown’s maternity leave.

The job includes taking the lead on developing BRC positions and representing the trade body with government and stakeholder groups in all the UK nations on issues such as resource and waste policy, particularly policy proposals on extended producer responsibility, the mooted Deposit Return Scheme, and the plastic packaging tax.

Alongside the head of sustainability, there will be a need to develop and progress the BRC’s Better Retail Better World campaign, including the recently announced Climate Action Roadmap.

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19 January 2021: Superdry talking up its sustainability game

In a half-year results announcement today, showing a decline in sales partly due to the coronavirus pandemic, Superdry CEO Julian Dunkerton once again referenced the fashion retailer’s more ‘sustainable’ strategy.

He said he is proud how the company is “embedding sustainability in every part of the business, with responsibly sourced ranges at the heart of our AW20 collection”.

“I believe sustainability is becoming critically important to our customers and I’m committed to Superdry becoming one of the leading global sustainable fashion brands,” Dunkerton added.

Superdry said 38% of its AW20 revenues were from organic cotton, recyclable and low-impact material product, while all its AW20 padded outerwear jackets are made with recycled materials.

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18 January 2021: Hermes announces plans for new parcel depot

Parcel carrier Hermes has announced its plans to open a new depot in Bolton later this year, as demand for online delivery grows.

The new Wingates Estate Bolton depot will replace an existing site nearby with all current staff transferring there, and an additional 100 new recruits joining the business.

The site is expected be able to handle almost three times more parcels – 220,000 per day – than the exisiting one, and from a greener operations perspective it will feature electric vehicle charging points, energy efficient measures such as smart lighting, and it will be built to BREEAM-certified specifications.

Hermes says it will be able to sort more parcels locally and reduce parcel miles annually, which it argues will decrease each parcel’s carbon footprint.

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15 January 2021: Aldi cans plastic shrink-wrapping 

Supermarket chain Aldi UK has removed plastic shrink-wrapping from all its own-label multipack soft drink cans.

The material has been replaced with 100% recyclable, FSC-certified cardboard, and the retailer said the move saves over 90 tonnes of plastic each year. Almost 11 million packs of Aldi’s 330ml cola, orangeade, lemonade and tropical drinks will switch to packaging, which is widely recylable in the UK.

Richard Gorman, plastics and packaging director at Aldi UK, commented: “Removing unnecessary plastic is a top priority, which is why we’ve committed to halve plastic packaging by 2025.

“The move away from shrink wrap on our canned soft drink range is another step in the right direction.”

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15 January 2021: Taylor & Hart report shows sustainability sells

Search terms such as ‘recycled’, ‘sustainable’, and ‘ethical’ all saw significant spikes in 2020 when compared to the previous year as more people than ever became aware of their environmental impact, according to a new report by jewellery brand Taylor & Hart.

The study suggests consumers are keen to support brands which are making conscious steps to be more sustainable and more environmentally-ethical going forward, and this is particularly the case for millennial shoppers.

Commenting on the Jewellery Trends Report, Kate Earlam-Charnley, design director at Taylor & Hart, said: “In an increasingly fluctuating landscape for brands and consumer behaviour, we need to rethink how we connect with young people not just as consumers but as individuals.

“Accountability regarding environmental impact is no longer optional. It’s essential. We’re excited to see this consumer-led shift in behaviour towards making a better future for all living things. 2021 will ring in the golden age of the conscious buyer.”

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14 January 2021: IGD lists sustainability in top 5 consumer goods trends for 2021

Consumer goods charity and research group IGD has listed “recuperative retail” and a focus on sustainability as one of the top five trends to look out for in the industry in 2021.

With climate change action high on the global agenda, IGD expects retailers and brands around the world to push ahead with initiatives to support goals in this area. Continued implementation globally of programmes to reduce plastic and food waste will form part of this drive, according to IGD.

On sustainability, IGD head of innovation & futures Toby Pickard said: “Climate change will remain a top priority in 2021, as it is recognised as the most likely source of major future disruption.

“While there will be much focus on how sustainability supports the climate change and resilience agendas, we will also see initiatives to build trust and loyalty with shoppers.”

The other four consumer goods industry trends to look out for this year, according to IGD, are: digital enhancement; a growing focus on building and improving eCommerce models; meal creation inspiration; and a continued spotlight on the health and wellness agenda.

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13 January 2021: Quorn starts year with eco-focused marketing campaign

Quorn Foods has launched a ‘Helping the planet one bite at a time’ marketing campaign, encouraging customers to think more about their protein choices and extolling the suggested eco benefits of people reducing their meat intake.

Ads will appear on TV, the web, and video on demand, and the campaign also pulls in Premier League champions Liverpool Football Club to help relay the message.

Furthermore, Quorn has introduced a new pack design, which features fresh branding and prominent product carbon footprint information.

Eco-focused marketing claims are set to come under growing scrutiny from UK watchdogs in the months ahead – read more about it on Green Retail World.

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11 January 2021: Berghaus selling range of bags made from end-of-life outdoor kit

Back in November, outdoor good retailer Berghaus revealed the first ranges from its collaboration with Dirtbags Climbing, a company specialising in repurposing end-of-life outdoor and climbing kit.

Rehaused by Dirtbags  takes Berghaus products at the end of their usable lives, which have been donated by Berghaus customers, and upcycles them into new climbing products, such as chalk bags or bum bags. Each piece is made individually, by deconstructing the original kit and turning the item into something completely new – often several bags can be made from one item.

The bags are available to buy online now. Berghaus also offers free repair services for its kit, in order to delay or avoid items ending up in landfill.

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8 January 2021: Plant-based teabags from Sainsbury’s

Supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has announced today it will roll out the company’s first plant-based own brand tea bags from June 2021.

Its current own brand teabags are made up of 75% natural fibres and 25% oil-based plastic sealing material (polypropylene). Although the oil-based plastic is deeme dimportant for product safety, the grocer is trialling a plant-based plastic alternative called Polylactic acid (PLA), which is made from the sugars in cornstarch, cassava or sugarcane.

PLA teabags are made from renewable plant-based material and are industrially compostable, unlike the current oil-based plastic teabags.

Sainsbury’s said it will move more than 815 million individual teabags a year from using oil-based plastic to plant-based plastic. It will also remove the outer plastic wrapping from 11 products, as part of wider efforts to halve the plastic packaging it uses by 2025.

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7 January 2021: Ikea UK TV ad runs with green angle

Ikea started running a new green-themed TV ad in the UK at the turn of the year, highlighting the need for more considered purchasing habits among consumers. Watch the ad, here.

“It’s time to wave goodbye to waste and embrace living in moderation,” says Ikea UK’s YouTube page, which promotes the advert.

“Because being frugal doesn’t just leave us feeling more balanced and content, it’s friendlier to the planet too. That’s why we’re aiming to become fully circular by 2030, and we want everyone to join us. Let’s leave the fast paced world of excess behind, and enjoy life in the slow lane. After all, Fortune Favours the Frugal.”

Read more about Ikea on Green Retail World

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6 January 2021: Costa Coffee searching for global sustainability lead

Snacks and beverages retailer Costa Coffee is on the hunt for a global sustainability lead.

A job advert for the role says the successful applicant will drive sustainability strategy, and align the business around related targets, as well as manage a prioritised programme of initiatives with direct report team leads. Projects they will oversee include Costa’s coffee due diligence work, and its carbon footprint roadmap and packaging strategy.

The global sustainability lead will work with the global brand & sustainability director and master brand equity lead to ensure sustainability is “anchored” in Costa’s global brand positioning.

“Reporting into the global brand & sustainability director in the global marketing function, you will be responsible for the sustainability strategy (‘Behind the Beans’) roadmap and delivery across priority initiatives,” the job ad states.

“You will champion sustainability internally, working with our lead markets around the world to define and deliver progress against commitments. You will also build a meaningful externally facing sustainability communications approach that is anchored into the core brand purpose.”

Read about Patagonia’s new EMEA environmental action & initiatives director

[Image credit: Green Retail World]

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