Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from Nike, Boohoo, Lidl and more…
March 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 February. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen this month:
31 March 2021: Brewdog to start work on ‘Lost Forest’ project in August
Beer brand Brewdog has purchased some land in the Scottish Highlands, as part of efforts to be a “carbon negative” business.
CEO James Watt said the company will use the land to “embark on the single biggest native woodland establishment and peatland restoration project ever carried out in the UK”.
Located just west of Aviemore, work on the so-called ‘Lost Forest’ will begin in August following the completion of environmental surveys. The business plans to plant millions of native trees to create what Watt calls “a bio-diverse broadleaf woodland and ecosystem”.
In a LinkedIn post, Watt – who is one of Brewdog’s co-founders – said: “Overall, the Lost Forest is capable of pulling one million tonnes of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere.
“The Lost Forest is also going to be home to a hotel built from sustainable cabins, a campsite, a distillery, hiking and biking trails as well as kayaking on our beautiful loch. We want the Lost Forest to enable people to reconnect with nature and by doing so become far more cognisant of the impact that we, as humans, are having on our planet.”
30 March 2021: Dixons Carphone first to use EcoVadis’s Carbon Action Module
The parent company for Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse is committing to assessing the carbon emissions of its global supplier base, using business sustainability ratings provider EcoVadis’s newly launched Carbon Action Module.
Dixons Carphone is the first UK company to adopt the Carbon Action Module, which provides companies with a way to drive climate action at scale by collecting and analysing suppliers’ critical emissions data.
The electricals retailer said it will use the data to work with suppliers to benchmark, measure and, where needed, develop plans to reduce carbon emissions.
Ed Connolly, chief commercial officer at Dixons Carphone, said: “The ability to assess the carbon footprint of our suppliers is vital as we work towards becoming Net Zero by 2040.
“As a responsible retailer, we are committed to driving meaningful change, and we’ll work with our suppliers and partners such as EcoVadis to evaluate how we can make our global supply chain more sustainable.”
Simon Murray, group responsible sourcing manager at Dixons Carphone, added: “The actions we take now have the potential to shape a greener world for the future.”
Lazar Armianov, regional sales director at EcoVadis, commented: “As Dixons Carphone continues on its decarbonisation journey, our Carbon Action Module will help the retailer drive transparency and real change through supply chain action.”
29 March 2021: Lidl trials its own deposit return scheme in Scotland
Lidl is running a new in-store recycling initiative in Scotland, ahead of an official nationwide deposit return scheme (DRS) going live in 2022.
Customers at the grocer’s stores in Edinburgh Granton, Dundee and Hamilton can now return drinks containers purchased from Lidl and receive 10p per container, up to £2.50.
The retailer is using Tomra’s reverse vending technology for its in-house DRS.
26 March 2021: LVMH reveals new biodiversity strategy
Louis Vuitton and Dior parent, LVMH Group, has revealed its new biodiversity strategy.
Announced at the “Our Planet, Our Future” Forum organised by UNESCO, the initiative aims to rehabilitate five million hectares of habitat for flora and fauna by 2030, in particular through regenerative agriculture.
Through a partnership with the UNESCO MAB programme, the luxury group also aims to combat deforestation in the Amazon.
The LVMH Group has structured its biodiversity strategy around four objectives: establishing a clear and precise measurement of biodiversity impact; avoiding and reducing impact on ecosystems; promoting animal welfare; and regenerating ecosystems.
As part of it all, the group has committed to not using raw materials from zones with a high risk of deforestation or desertification.
25 March 2021: Boohoo makes ‘Agenda for Change’ updates and launches sustainability strategy
Online fashion retailer Boohoo, which is in the midst of a huge controversy around it supply chain practices following serious allegations of malpractice surfaced in 2020 which prompted an independent review, has announced a new sustainability strategy.
It comes alongside the business detailing its list of approved suppliers, which is part of the retail group’s ‘Agenda for Change’ strategy related to the comprehensive review of its supply chain operations.
Dubbed UP.Front, the sustainability plan details how the company intends to reduce waste in its supply chain, improve how it manufactures clothes, and work in a better and more transparent manner with suppliers.
With a plan in place that includes promises to add clothing resale and recycling options for each of its brands in the coming years and improve packaging recylability, the journey to become a greener business has now offically been mapped out. There will be huge scrutiny on the business over the coming years to analyse its progress.
One immediate action by Boohoo is the launch of a series of internal events and training sessions “to make sure everyone at Boohoo knows how they can get involved and what the plan means for the work they do”.
24 March 2021: Aldi, Heineken, Lidl, M&S, Musgrave and Tesco sign Irish business eco pledge
Aldi, Heineken, Lidl, M&S, Musgrave and Tesco are the retailers and brands in Ireland among 61 companies publicly committing to set environmental targets based on science by 2024.
The 61 organisations represent the first signatories of Business in the Community Ireland’s new Low Carbon Pledge.
It means these businesses promise to do what science says is necessary to limit global warming to 1.5°C in the next three years.
They commit to recording their entire carbon footprint, both direct (Scope 1 & 2) and indirect (Scope 3) emissions, as well as reduce emissions in each scope. They must also report individually through an annual report or website or other publicly available equivalent source, and collectively through an Annual Business in the Community Ireland Low Carbon Report.
As Business in the Community Ireland’s understanding improves, signatory companies are asked to commit to regularly reviewing their carbon reduction targets to align to the latest climate science.
The full list of signatories: A&L Goodbody, Abbvie, ABP Foods, Accenture, Actavo, AIB, Aldi, Allianz, An Post, Arup, Aviva, Bank of Ireland, Bidvest Noonan, Boots, Britvic, BT Ireland, Cairn Homes, Cisco, Cook Medical, Dawn Meats, Deloitte, DePuy Synthes, Diageo, Dublin Bus, EirGrid, Enterprise-Rent-a-Car, ESB, Fujitsu, Gas Networks Ireland, Grant Thornton, Heineken Ireland, Hovione Ireland, Irish Rail, Irish Distillers, Irish Water, Janssen, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, KBC Bank, Keelings, KPMG, Lidl, M&S, Momentum Support, Mercury Engineering, Musgrave, Ornua, Permanent TSB, PM Group, PwC, RTÉ, Sky, Sodexo, SSE, Tesco, Three Ireland, Ulster Bank, Verizon, Veolia, Virgin Media Ireland, Vodafone and William Fry.
23 March 2021: Wilko introduces in-store face mask recycling collection points
General merchandise retailer Wilko is set to introduce face mask recycling collection points in its stores from 1 April.
The three-month trial will cover large parts of the UK, and comprise collection bins where shoppers can drop off their used disposable masks using Metrisk’s Scan2Recycle.
Once full, the bins will be taken away by recycling specialist Reworked – which already works with Boots to recycle used beauty product packaging – and shredded down into raw materials that can be used to make items such as shelters and outdoor furniture.
22 March 2021: Westfield report shows consumers willing to rent broader product range
Consumers who plan to rent products in 2021, as a more sustainable way to shop, have expanded their horizons in terms of categories they are interested in.
According to real estate group Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield’s report entitled ‘Westfield How We Shop: What’s Changed’, more people are willing to rent items in general. The report says it is one impact of the global pandemic on consumer habits.
Below are the categories people are most willing to rent. It is based on research involving 2,000 consumers and 500 retailers.
- Fitness equipment (39% – up from 37% in 2020);
- Spaces to spend time with friends and family (38% – up from 23% in 2020);
- Technology (35% – down from 42% in 2020);
- Space to work (32% – new for 2021);
- Toys and games (29% – up from 18% in 2020);
- Garden equipment (28% – down from 32% in 2020);
- Clothes (27% – up from 22% in 2020);
- Beauty (24% – up from 12% in 2020);
- Furniture (23% – up from 19% in 2020);
- Fashion accessories (23% – up from 18% in 2020).
19 March 2021: L’Oréal France, Carrefour and TerraCycle partnership grows
L’Oréal France and Carrefour have joined forces with TerraCycle to encourage more recycling of cosmetics containers and packaging.
Collection points have now been installed in 331 Carrefour stores (235 of which are hypermarkets), across France. Under the terms of the partnership, TerraCycle will process containers and packaging not yet commonly recycled in France.
Containers and packaging from all cosmetics brands on the French market, including make-up, mascara, lipstick, eye shadow, and eyeliner, as well as plastic pots, flexible plastic tubes, stick deodorants and others compressed in plastic, can be sent free of charge to TerraCycle for recycling as part of the scheme.
On receipt, the containers and packaging will be sorted then stored until the required quantity of each type of item has been collected before the recycling process is launched. The material will then be crushed into plastic granules, which manufacturers will then use to make recycled plastic products such as benches and other outside furniture.
19 March 2021: Lego puts plastic waste back into HQ
Lego has claimed this week that 100% of plastic waste from moulding machines used to make its products is recycled.
Claudia Stubbe, Lego’s global waste manager, was credited with the initiative to make the leftover plastic into objects used at Lego HQ, in Denmark. Apparently, five tons of Lego element waste has been turned into outdoor benches and tables, while meeting room chairs, tables, lamps, and flowerpots are all made from plastic waste.
Lego said other types of waste have been reborn as minifigure artwork on display in the company’s new campus canteen.
18 March 2021: Eve Sleep reports rejuvenated mattress service progress
Sleep products brand Eve Sleep announced a year of revenue growth today, but also updated the market on its mattress recycling capabilities.
In early 2020, the direct-to-consumer business partnered with furniture recycling company, TFR Group, in the UK. TFR helps Eve rejuvenate and recycle mattresses, including taking them through a sanitisation and quality-check processes before rolling and boxing them.
To date, the partnership has reportedly achieved a rejuvenation rate of approximately 60% for Eve customers. Remaining mattresses that are not capable of rejuvenation are broken down and each material individually recycled, according to Eve.
The policy is part of the company’s efforts to ensure 100% of its returned mattresses are diverted away from landfill. A separate partnership also encourages customers to have their previous mattress removed and recycled at the point their new mattress is delivered.
17 March 2021: Hype plants a tree with every order
UK-based fashion brand Hype has announced it funds the planting of a tree with every order it receives.
The brand has teamed up with Ecologi, an organisation helping businesses and individuals compensate their carbon footprint, to support the tree planting process.
“We’ve currently planted over 4.2k trees and supporting projects across the globe to help reduce our carbon footprint,” Hype announced on its social channels, this week.
Hype’s tree planting work can be traced at ecologi.com/hype
16 March 2021: Nike ties exec pay to sustainability targets
Sports brand Nike said last week that it will tie executive pay to sustainability targets for the first time.
In Nike’s Impact 2020 report, which laid out several targets such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 70% in Nike-owned facilities by 2025 and multiplying the amount of product waste recycled or donated in that time, it showed a significant commitment to improving its environmental impact.
According to Nike, it is now using 100% renewable energy in its facilities in the US and Canada, but it acknowledged it needs to increase its use of sustainable materials in its products and has mapped out the way to do so.
John Donahoe, CEO of Nike, said the ‘Purpose 2025’ targets are “a call to action – with clear goals, strategies and accountabilities”.
“We are also redefining what responsible leadership looks like,” he added.
“For the first time, we will tie executive compensation to Nike’s progress in deepening diversity and inclusion, protecting the planet, and advancing ethical manufacturing.”
15 March 2021: Mulberry to resell bags on Vestiaire Collective
UK luxury brand Mulberry has followed Alexander McQueen in joining online marketplace Vestiaire Collective’s ‘Brand Approved’ programme.
Mulberry already operates its own in-house product resale service, called ‘Mulberry Exchange,’ which allows consumers to exchange pre-worn Mulberry items for store credit or purchase second-hand items that have been restored by the brand, but this latest move extends the company’s commitment to developing a more circular economy.
Vestiaire Collective will sell pre-loved Mulberry pieces that have been restored through the Mulberry Exchange programme.
The Brand Approved initiative encourages participating companies to solicit pre-owned items from their customers for resale, rewarding them with money off future purchases and other incentives.
14 March 2021: Frozen food retailer Iceland tackles marine fishing waste problem
Iceland Foods has become a member of the Global Ghost Gear Initiative (GGGI), a cross-sectoral alliance that aims to tackle the problem of lost, abandoned and discarded fishing gear (also known as “ghost gear”) found in oceans worldwide.
Part of the GGGI’s role is to improve the health of marine ecosystems and protect marine animals from harm.
Iceland has committed to introducing GGGI to its fish and seafood suppliers, giving them the opportunity to learn more about the initiative and become members themselves.
Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, said: “Ensuring our oceans remain an environment where marine life can live and thrive is absolutely imperative.
GGGI was founded in 2015 by non-profit World Animal Protection, with a key focus on removing abandoned fishing nets, pots and lines that get left in the sea each year. Since 2019, the GGGI has been hosted under Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas programme.
Aldi, Lidl, Co-op, Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer are among the existing members of GGGI.
13 March 2021: London’s Oxford Street to be ‘cleaner, greener, and modern’
Work got under way earlier this month to make the London Oxford Street area greener and cleaner.
The initial part of the project, which is set to be completed by late spring, aims to add 25 new mature trees, over 1,500 new plants from 65 different species, and 55 new seating areas.
Over the next 18 months, bus bays will be consolidated to make space for pocket parks complete with play areas and lighting installations. Westminster council said these are just the first in a series of local authority-led projects aimed at sprucing up Oxford Street, and improving air quality.
The aim is to encourage people back to a commercial area that has been significantly hit by reduced footfall in the pandemic.
Karen Lord, head of branch at John Lewis Oxford Street, said: “We welcome the much-needed improvement to the public space on Oxford Street which will both prepare for the opening of Crossrail and help encourage shoppers and visitors to come back to the West End.”
12 March 2021: Chipotle ties executive pay to environmental and diversity goals
US-based Mexican food chain Chipotle has announced it will tie executive bonuses to environmental and diversity goals.
Starting this year, 10% of Chipotle executives’ annual incentives will be linked to their progress toward achieving company targets, such as increasing the pounds of organic, local or regeneratively grown or raised food from the previous year.
Chipotle said it hit 31 million pounds of local produce under this umbrella, and it’s set a goal of 37 million pounds by the end of 2021.
Laurie Schalow, in charge of sustainability and ESG reporting for Chipotle as the company’s corporate affairs chief & food safety officer, said: “I think the increased focus on performance around ESG and investor feedback was definitely behind our decision to go public with this.”
11 March 2021: Symphony Group announces The Used Kitchen Company partnership
Kitchen manufacturer, The Symphony Group, has signed an agreement with online marketplace, The Used Kitchen Company (TUKC), to try and drive greener practice across their industry.
Symphony retail partners will be encouraged to recycle their ex-display kitchens on the marketplace, and help raise awareness among customers about recycling old kitchens through TUKC.
In particular, Symphony is encouraging its retail partners to embrace ‘Kitchen Passport’, the unique eco-initiative that was launched by TUKU last year.
A Kitchen Passport provides key information about the kitchen such as the range and supplier of the furniture, worktops, appliances, sink and tap, with the aim of making it easier to make changes or sell the kitchen on in the future. Symphony is encouraging its showrooms to create a Kitchen Passport for every kitchen they sell to boost product traceability.
TUKC’s CEO, Looeeze Grossman, commented: “This is a major step forward for Kitchen Passport and sustainability within the kitchen sector.
“Our goal is to make it as natural to recycle a kitchen, as it is to recycle other household waste. We need forward-thinking sustainability partners, like Symphony, to help make that happen and thank them for giving Kitchen Passport their stamp of approval.”
10 March 2021: Electrical product energy efficiency legislation updated
The UK government is set to introduce new rules for electrical products to tackle ‘premature obsolescence’ – a short lifespan deliberately built into an appliance by manufacturers that can lead to unnecessary and costly replacements for the consumer.
From this summer, manufacturers will be legally obliged to make spare parts for products available to consumers for the first time – dubbed a “right for repairs” – to enable electrical appliances to be fixed easily.
The move is expected to increase the lifespan of washing machines, televisions and other goods, and comes as the UK creates 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste every year.
The government is also setting far higher energy-efficiency standards for electrical products.
New energy labels have been introduced aimed at simplifying the way energy efficiency is displayed on a new scale from A-G. Today the vast majority of appliances are classified as A+, A++ or A+++, but the new labels are intended to raise the bar for each class, meaning very few appliances will now be classified as A.
Business and energy secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, claimed: “Our plans to tighten product standards will ensure more of our electrical goods can be fixed rather than thrown on the scrap heap, putting more money back in the pockets of consumers whilst protecting the environment.”
9 March 2021: N Brown Group converts to new dispatch bags
Online fashion and homeware retail group, N Brown, has shifted its delivery packaging to green polyethelyne (Green PE) despatch bags.
Green PE is a bio-based plastic, manufactured from polymer derived from sugarcane.
The despatch bags, manufactured by Duo UK, are also recyclable, with the JD Williams and Jacamo parent estimating it will save 112 tonnes of carbon per annum as a result of the switch.
The bags have replaced 90% of the group’s previous packaging, with all dispatched items set to use the new material by the end of 2021.
Sarah Welsh, CEO of retail at N Brown, said: “We believe online fashion should be sustainable, and a key element of that is reducing the use of plastic across the delivery process.”
8 March 2021: Gymshark starts search for chief sustainability officer
Fitness and sports brand Gymshark has started the search for a chief sustainability officer (CSO).
CEO & founder, Ben Francis, announced the new role on LinkedIn and described sustainability as “one of our biggest priorities going forward”.
He added: “We want to push the envelope we want to be unique and we want to lead the way when it comes to sustainability.”
The new CSO will be a board-level position.
“Sustainability is so important to us – especially as we are building a 100-, 200-, 300-year brand here,” Francis added.
7 March 2021: Allbirds invests $2m in Natural Fiber Welding
Footwear brand Allbirds has invested $2 million in sustainable materials start-up, Natural Fiber Welding (NFW).
The retailer will also use NFW’s plant-based leather in its shoes.
“For too long, fashion companies have relied on dirty synthetics and unsustainable leather, prioritising speed and cost over the environment,” explained Joseph Zwillinger, co-founder & co-CEO of Allbirds.
“Natural Fiber Welding is creating scalable, sustainable antidotes to leather, and doing so with the potential for a game-changing 98% reduction in carbon emissions. Our partnership with NFW and planned introduction of plant leather based on their technology is an exciting step on our journey to eradicate petroleum from the fashion industry.”
5 March 2021: Zara.com site to open run partly on photovoltaic solar power
Zara.com’s new technologically-enhanced HQ in Arteixo, Spain is set to be inaugurated on 17 March.
Housing the new Zara.com studios and the Zara Man central design department and part of a total €130 million investment to improve parent company Inditex’s head office, the building comes with several greener features, according to the retailer.
There are 554 photovoltaic panels which, together with the 2,826 panels installed in the outdoor car park, supply half of the building’s electricity. Inditex said that all the building’s energy comes from renewable sources.
The site will also reuse rainwater for watering and sanitation thanks to a subterranean tank, and will operate with an aerothermal HVAC system which reportedly brings energy savings.
There is also water-efficient landscaping in place, comprising indigenous plants and species adapted to the local climate to help with the water conservation efforts outdoors and preservation of regional biodiversity.
4 March 2021: United Colors of Benetton opens ‘low-environmental impact’ shop in Florence
United Colors of Benetton has opened what it has described as a new “low-environmental impact” boutique, opposite the Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence, Italy.
The store features use of sustainable materials and energy-saving technologies throughout, and is viewed as one aspect of the retailer’s efforts to improve its environmental and social performance throughout the supply chain.
The shop’s floor is made with gravel from the river Piave and waste wood from beech trees brought down by Vaia, a storm that hit the Italian Veneto region in 2018. The walls are treated with a mineral paint with antibacterial and anti-mould properties that Benetton said can also reduce pollutants in the environment.
The store interiors are made with new materials created from textile industry scrap, for example the perimeter platforms and bases of the display stands are made with a compound created from used buttons mixed in hydro-resin. In addition, recycled wool (in its raw wick state) is reused in the design of the perimeter lining and as decoration for the curtains of the dressing rooms.
Shelves, display bases and mannequins are made in “rossino”, a material created from upcycled, mixed textile fibres.
3 March 2021: Tesco and Mondi in ‘closed loop’ shopping bag launch
Tesco’s Central Europe division has rolled out new recycled shopping bags in its stores across Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The retailer has worked with Mondi, using the paper manufacturer’s EcoVantage paper which combines fresh and recycled fibres to create the packaging.
Mondi said it is closing the loop by recycling Tesco’s warehouse corrugated waste to create the EcoVantage paper.
This initiative marks the first time Tesco has collaborated directly with a paper producer to turn its paper waste into a renewable resource. The EcoVantage paper is produced at Mondi’s mill in the Czech Republic.
3 March 2021: Zalando rides with cargo bike delivery service Fietskoeriers.nl in Netherlands
Online fashion marketplace, Zalando, has teamed up with bicycle delivery service, Fietskoeriers.nl.
Operating in the Netherlands, specifically in Amersfoort, Nijmegen, Arnhem and Zwolle, the service will see Zalando deliveries arriving at consumers’ homes via cargo bike.
Zalando said the move makes its deliveries more sustainable and contributes to reducing traffic in and around cities.
2 March 2021: Tanya Ashton takes Walgreens Boots Alliance sustainability role
Ex-Associated British Foods corporate social responsibility and sustainability lead, Tanya Ashton, has announced on LinkedIn that she has joined Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA).
She revealed she has started a new role with WBA to develop the group’s European sustainability strategy across its global brands.
“What a wonderful opportunity to make some of our favourite, tried and trusted health and beauty ranges including No.7, Soap & Glory and my personal favourite Liz Earle more sustainable,” she stated.
Green Retail World has followed up with Boots for more details…
1 March 2021: Ella’s Kitchen, Mars, Nestle and Taylors of Harrogate on mission for flexible packaging recycling
Several recognisable brands are working with waste management company, Suez, to create a roadmap for the expansion of flexible packaging recycling in the UK.
The Flexible Packaging Consortium of Ella’s Kitchen, Mars, Nestle and Taylors of Harrogate – and Suez – exists to share knowledge and drive down packaging waste through collaboration. It wants systems put in place to collect from homes the type of packaging that is not currently permitted in most local authority collections.
Mark Cuddigan, CEO of Ella’s Kitchen, said: “Protecting the planet for future generations is a top priority for us at Ella’s Kitchen and as a B Corp, we strongly believe that business has the power to be a force for good in society.
“Every business must play their part in addressing sustainability challenges, and it is clear that when we work together and collaborate our efforts, we are far more likely to create real, long-term solutions.”
He added: “We hope our work not only goes to helping to improve the recycling of all flexible packaging in the UK, but also inspires more cross-sector collaboration on sustainability initiatives.”
The consortium has published Mapping the value chain for flexible plastic packaging in the UK, which sets out a framework that the companies believe will increase recycling and help reduce the detrimental effect of packaging on the environment.
Stuart Hayward-Higham, technical development director for Suez recycling and recovery UK and author of the report, commented: “This report summarises many months of research and collaboration across the value chain to understand issues and demonstrates a real potential to move more plastic packaging into the recycling bin.
“Collecting flexible plastic packaging and films from homes and businesses would help improve recycling rates and create a more circular system for flexible plastic packaging, so we are encouraged both by the findings and by the effective partnership working that made it possible to complete the research.”