Greener retailing

February 2021

Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from Arket, Ocado, Seasalt and others…


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


26 February 2021: Seasalt sustainability boss talks strategy

Clothing and accessories retailer Seasalt has published its latest Sustainability Report today.

Head of sustainability, Deap Khambay, wrote a LinkedIn article to provide context around the report and the areas the business is focused on.

“Our headline commitments include a pledge to use 100% Global-Organic-Textile-Standard-certified organic cotton across all our cotton products by 2024, plans to reach carbon net zero by 2040 at the latest (earlier if we possibly can) and measures that will bring even greater transparency to our supply chain,” she said.

Khambay spoke positively about Seasalt’s approach to sustainability, saying in her three-plus years at the organisation she “was always pushing against an open door” when it came to implementing her strategy.

“Sustainability has to come from the top,” she explained.

“At Seasalt, we take a holistic approach and identify where our largest environmental and social impacts sit. We then help the senior team understand the business case and how it connects in from a financial and resource perspective. It is vital to do that if you want change to happen.”

She added: “We’re integrating sustainability across the business with a new governance structure and it’s working, thankfully. We have an environmental committee and an ethics committee that work with the sustainability department and report progress to the management board every quarter.

“More broadly, the aim is to distribute responsibility across the business to individuals in key areas. It means you get a mix of expertise and ensure environmental and social factors are always considered when big decisions are made.”

Khambay also said this decade is “the decade of action on the environment”, adding everyone needs to act because otherwise “it will be irreversible”.


25 February 2021: Sainsbury’s named partner for COP26

Sainsbury’s has been announced as the ‘principal supermarket partner’ for the United Nation’s international climate change conference, COP26, which is set to take place in Glasgow in November.

At the event, Sainsbury’s staff will host and participate in events and talks showcasing some of the retailer’s sustainability work, which it claimed includes reducing its carbon footprint by 42% over the last 16 years.

COP26 president and former business secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “Businesses have a key role to play in helping us build back greener and Sainsbury’s has shown strong leadership by making a clear commitment to combating climate change through science based measures, as well as reducing plastic packaging and empowering consumers to make more sustainable choices.”


24: February 2021: Etsy promises net zero carbon emissions by 2030. 

Online marketplace Etsy has said it will “cast the widest net possible to ensure it is reducing both direct and indirect carbon impacts” as part of its plan to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

Etsy announced it will address not only Scope 1 and 2 emissions, including office operations and purchased energy, but also Scope 3 emissions, which can include seller activities like shipping and packaging.

The business’s reduction objectives will follow the protocol of the Science Based Targets Initiative.

Josh Silverman, CEO at Etsy, said the organisation’s integrated reporting model allows it to share environmental impact updates alongside its financial results, “reflecting our strong belief that our performance and impact are inextricably linked”.

He added: “Today’s announcement follows a long run of ambitious goals from the business to manage its ecological footprint.

“In recent years, these include powering the Etsy marketplace with 100% renewable electricity and running zero waste operations globally.”


23 February 2021: Belstaff fashion available for rental on MyWardrobeHQ

Fashion brand Belstaff is offering a range of men’s jackets for rental on burgeoning online platform, MyWardrobeHQ.

It’s the first time menswear has been available on the site, which has specialised in renting out womenswear from the likes of Chanel, Gucci, and Stella McCartney since its inception in 2019.

The Belstaff-MyWardrobeHQ tie-up was launched at London Fashion Week.


22 February 2021: M&S Food seeking head of sustainability

M&S has announced it is to relaunch its sustainability programme in 2021, and the M&S Food division is recruiting a head of sustainability to help the company map out its path in this field.

In the job ad, M&S said it is looking for someone to help drive “transformational change at a time when sustainability is front of mind”.

The head of sustainability will be tasked with leading, developing, influencing, and delivering the company’s sustainability strategy, supporting heads of business functions and leaders within the food group.

Whoever takes on the role will be required to create operational metrics, tracking and managing delivery timelines and communicating progress to internal stakeholders by establishing appropriate internal controls and measurement systems to support the sustainability-related work.

M&S said it is looking for “an experienced and acknowledged leader in sustainability”, and someone with experience in implementing sustainability programmes for large scale organisations either in house or through consultancy.

Interested parties can apply for the job here


19 February 2021: H&M Group issues sustainability-linked bond

H&M Group has issued a €500 million sustainability-linked bond with a maturity of eight and a half years and an annual coupon rate of 0.25%.

The Sweden-based retail group said the bond was 7.6 times oversubscribed.

Unlike green bonds, where the funds are linked to specific projects, sustainability-linked bonds are based on a company meeting a number of defined sustainability targets.

The targets the group has committed to achieving by 2025 are: to increase the share of recycled materials used to 30%; reduce emissions from the group’s own operations by 20%; and reduce absolute ‘Scope 3’ emissions from fabric production, garment manufacturing, raw materials and upstream transport by 10%.

Adam Karlsson, group CFO at H&M, said: “This type of bond creates a clear and transparent commitment and incentive for the company.

“It is an important step in our continued work to optimise the company’s capital structure, while at the same time providing investors with an opportunity to contribute to positive transformation of the fashion industry.”

Evan Bruner, project manager at Sustainalytics, an independent global provider of environmental, social and governance, and corporate governance research and ratings to investors, commented: “Sustainalytics is of the opinion that the H&M Group sustainability-linked bond KPIs are relevant and material to the issuer and that the sustainability performance targets (SPT) are ambitious and impactful.

“The goal to reach 30% recycled materials as inputs is a highly ambitious SPT (and represents leadership in the clothing industry.”

The UK’s largest retailer, Tesco, issued a sustainability-linked bond in January.


18 February 2021: Wrap publishes guidance on in-store take back schemes

Waste reduction charity Wrap has published a guide for retailers on how to use their stores as destinations for clothing take back services.

The guide highlights the various schemes and methods available for businesses to encourage consumers to bring back unwanted garments rather than throwing them away.

Only 2% of people choose the take back route to donate their unwanted clothing, according to Wrap, which predicts the lifting of the current coronavirus-influenced lockdown in the UK will coincide with a spike in unwanted goods in the home being returned, recycled, donated, or disposed of in different ways.

David Moon, head of business collaboration at Wrap, said: “This guide will help businesses implement successful take back schemes that allow their customers to easily donate unwanted clothing.

“Last summer, post-lockdown, over half of the people we surveyed had a clear out of clothing. We know that citizens would much rather recycle, donate, or re-sell their unwanted items, so take back schemes are going to be imperative to people being able to donate promptly once the shops reopen.”

The guide was produced as part of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP 2020), which completed in December 2020. Wrap is currently preparing for the launch of a new ten-year voluntary agreement that will succeed SCAP 2020, putting circularity at the heart of how clothes are manufactured, sold and re-used – called Textiles 2030.


17 February 2021: Farfetch launches luxury bag, shoe and leather goods restoration service

Online luxury marketplace Farfetch has teamed up with The Restory to create ‘Farfetch Fix’, a platform which allows consumers to repair designer shoes, handbags, and small leather goods.

Consumers interested in using the service can book a slot for their item to be collected by The Restory. Once received, the workshop will contact the customer with a quote for the work, and after approval the repair will begin.

Completed items are then sent back to the customer at their preferred time and to a destination of their choice.

Check out the service here


17 February 2021: Corporate action on EVs doubled in 2020

According to the Climate Group, the number of electric vehicles deployed by its EV100 initiative members rose to 169,000 in 2020 – more than doubling the previous year’s total.

The total number of fleet or employee car scheme vehicles committed to be electric by 2030, as part of EV100 commitments, has jumped by 80% year in year to 4.8 million. The stats come from a new Progress & Insights Report from the Climate Group.

EV100 is a Climate Group-led programme that aims to encourage and help corporate organisations to electrify their fleets and employee car schemes, as part of their wider green goals. Retailers such as Tesco and Dixons Carphone are members of the EV100.

Sandra Roling, head of transport at the Climate Group, said: “Corporate uptake of electric vehicles is on a roll.

“Despite the uncertainty of 2020, the business community has made remarkable progress in transitioning its fleets. The EV revolution is under way.”

She added: “With the United Nations climate conference COP26 due in Glasgow at the end of the year, 2021 is the year of climate action. We need businesses to lead from the front. Now is the time for every company with a fleet or an employee car scheme to join EV100 and commit to going electric.”

Read more about electric vehicles in retail on Green Retail World


16 February 2021: Ocado launches B Corp ‘aisle’ for online shoppers

Ocado has unveiled a section of its shopping website dedicated to B Corp companies.

B Corp-labelled businesses and brands are those which have officially been recognised as balancing purpose with profit, and they tend to operate with environment-friendly processes as a core part of their operations.

According to the certifier, B Corporations are businesses meeting the “highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose”.

Brands listed on the Ocado B Corp section include Ella’s Kitchen, Innocent drinks, and Ben & Jerry’s.


11 February 2021: Sainsbury’s flips pancake plastic packaging

Sainsbury’s has announced it has reducing plastic packaging by 86% in its pancake mix.

It said the new “widely-recycled” pancake cartons are estimated to save a total of 25 tonnes of plastic every year, with the move part of ambitious 2025 plastic reduction targets.


10 February 2021: Prada signs new sustainability-linked loan with UniCredit

Luxury fashion group Prada has signed a sustainability-linked loan with UniCredit bank.

The environmental, social, and corporate governance loan offers a bonus mechanism that allows for a reduction in the interest rate upon achieving quantitative environmental sustainability targets.

The five-year loan, worth €90 million, is linked to Prada’s regeneration and reconversion of production waste and its efforts in increasing the share of self-produced energy within its operations. The attainment of these targets will be certified on an annual basis by an independent third party.

Alessandra Cozzani, CFO of Prada, remarked: “Sustainability, as a value, is now universally recognised and shared, also by the financial industry.

“For us and for all companies, this results in an important stimulus to achieve increasingly ambitious goals towards a sustainable economy. We are proud to be among the first players in the luxury sector to have embarked on this path and to be considered a reference counterpart in the field today.”


9 February 2021: Vans and Timberland parent co. makes packaging pledge

VF Corporation, which owns Vans, Timberland, The North Face and a range of other fashion and footwear brands, has announced its goal to eliminate all single-use plastic packaging, including polybags, by 2025.

It said all remaining non-plastic packaging used by VF and its brands will be reduced, originate from sustainable sources, and be designed for reuse or recyclability.

VF’s brands are viewed by many in the retail as leaders in encouraging a greener agenda across the industry. Icebreaker, for example, has an ambitious goal to be plastic-free by 2023, and The North Face first launched a Polybag Brigade recycling programme with TerraCycle in 2011 and has recycled more than five million polybags in that time.

The brand house also said it is a longstanding supporter of Canopy’s Pack4Good initiative, which works to ensure paper packaging doesn’t contain materials from ancient and endangered forests or other controversial sources, while it wants to work with other retailers and industry peers to support the development of collection platforms and recycling technology.

Jeannie Renné-Malone, vice president of global sustainability for VF, commented: “With a portfolio comprising some of the world’s most iconic apparel and footwear brands, we recognise we play an important role as environmental stewards and can serve as a catalyst for industry movements that drive positive change.

“Our new global packaging goals are an example of how we can leverage our scale for significant impact. In just one year, we could potentially eliminate as many as 100 million polybags from our packaging waste.”

Read more about Timberland on Green Retail World


5 February 2021: Co-op removes plastic packaging from its Easter eggs

Co-op has committed to removing plastic packaging from its own-brand-range Easter eggs.

The convenience retailer is eradicating the use of plastic inner packaging and windows for all five of its hollow Fairtrade Easter eggs, which it said will save over 14 tonnes of unnecessary plastic. The products are set to be launched later this month.

Iain Ferguson, environment manager at Co-op, said: “Easter egg packaging is renowned for its excessive use of unnecessary plastic, whether to protect the chocolate or to display the design of the confectionery.

“Our teams have worked incredibly hard to deliver a new solution that ensures the egg is still protected whilst allowing our customers to see all the aspects of the eggs and their stunning designs. This is a really positive step within the packaging industry, especially for seasonal Easter lines.”


4 February 2021: Sainsbury’s reveals greenhouse gas emission reduction goals

Sainsbury’s has announced plans to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions using approved science-based targets in its operations and across the supply chain.

The grocer has also committed to working with a number of suppliers on developing and meeting their own eco targets, including through supplier engagement programmes with CDP and the Higg Index, which help to measure environmental impact.

Science-based targets are emissions reduction targets in line with what the latest climate science says is needed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Read more about Sainsbury’s targets here.

In the last year alone, Sainsbury’s installed its one millionth Aerofoil in its Battersea Park Local store, which helps keep fridges cool and aisles warmer while saving energy. It also switched to lithium-ion pallet trucks, purchasing 1,200 initially which helps bring energy usage down.

Meanwhile, Sainsbury’s Olney supermarket is its first store with a full refrigeration integrated heating and cooling system. It uses the store’s refrigeration system to provide all its refrigeration, heating and cooling requirements, including using waste heat.

Hugh Jones, managing director at the Carbon Trust Advisory, commented: “This is a critical year in the fight on climate change, with the UK also hosting the COP26 Climate Change Conference in November.

“It is vital that the business sector steps up to this challenge and it is great to see Sainsbury’s aligning to this now by engaging its supply chain and extending its net zero targets to cover the products it sells.”


3 February 2021: Dixons Carphone leverages recycling operations in digital inclusion drive

Currys PC World parent, Dixons Carphone, has committed £1 million to the Digital Access For All (DAFA) charitable programme to support digital learning.

The money will also equip 1,000 teachers and teaching assistants with the technology and help they need to deliver tech-enabled home schooling to 30,000 disadvantaged pupils in the UK during the pandemic and beyond. It is part of a wider agenda to tackle digital poverty across the country.

Alex Baldock, CEO of Dixons Carphone, said the group’s electrical equipment recycling and reuse initiatives will be leveraged to help the cause.

“Teachers are among the heroes of the pandemic and many are struggling with getting the most out of technology and remote learning,” he explained.

“We will work with Digital Access For All and the Digital Poverty Alliance to develop solutions to eradicate this problem. With our scale, award-winning recycling and reuse operations, significant presence in the community and the help of 22,000 expert UK colleagues, we are confident we can make a difference.”


2 February 2021: Selfridges’ sustainability boss Vega to join Ahold Delhaize

Selfridges’ group director of sustainability, Daniella Vega, is to join European grocery business Ahold Delhaize.

She will take the role of vice president for health & sustainability, with responsibility for driving the retailer’s healthy food agenda, as well as overseeing the company’s transparency and climate change commitments.

A Selfridges’ spokesperson told Green Retail World Vega will leave in the spring, to join Ahold Delhaize in the Netherlands.

“Sustainability has never been more important to us and Daniella has played a leading role on our journey as we look to imagine and create a more sustainable future for our customers,” they remarked.

“We wish Daniella all the best in her new role.”


1 February 2021: Arket rents out children’s clothing collection

H&M-owned clothing brand, Arket, has started offering part of its children’s clothing range for rent, through a new partnership with Amsterdam-based online shop and clothing subscription Circos.

Arket items can be rented individually or as part of an edited bundle of clothes on, and orders are delivered directly to consumers’ homes.

Pernilla Wohlfahrt, managing director of Arket, said: “We’re really happy to be able to give our customers the possibility to share products with other families and proud to join Circos in their vision for a more circular everyday life.

“Children’s clothes need to be designed with a longer-term horizon in mind, and all our garments are consciously intended to be handed down when outgrown.”

Erick Bouwer, founder & CEO at Circos, added: “The Circos subscription is available to European customers from €19.50 per month.

“Rented clothes can be kept and used for as long as they fit and returned when it’s time to size up or update the wardrobe for a new season. Between eight and ten families will share and enjoy the same piece of clothing, and once the product eventually wears out, the materials are repurposed to make new products.”

Read more about rental and reuse in retail on Green Retail World


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