Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from John Lewis Partnership, Pandora, musicMagpie and others.
April 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 March. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen this month:
30 April 2021: Tesco to offer sustainability-linked supply chain finance
Supermarket group Tesco has announced it will offer its supply base sustainability-linked supply chain finance, as a way of encouraging more suppliers to sign up to science-based emissions reduction targets.
The grocer, which is the UK’s largest retailer, claims to be the first in the industry to do this for its supply chain.
The voluntary programme, which has been in development for 18 months and is due to launch in September, will see annual greenhouse gas emissions data provided by suppliers independently verified and assessed by sustainability consultancy, Anthesis.
Professional services firm KPMG is also engaged to carry out assurance of the programme.
As part of the initiative, Tesco suppliers will be offered preferential financing rates via Santander’s supply chain finance platform which incentivises organisations to make positive changes to their business while tracking performance and creating a culture of continuous improvement. The rates will be based on each suppliers’ carbon data disclosure, emissions reduction targets and progress against sustainability goals.
Ashwin Prasad, Tesco’s chief product officer, said: “In this critical year for climate action, we’re delighted to be able to offer thousands of suppliers access to market-leading supply chain finance linked to sustainability.
“This programme not only provides suppliers with a real incentive to set science-based emissions reduction targets, it will help embed sustainability goals throughout our supply chain and support the UK in realising its climate change targets.”
Tesco is working in partnership with WWF to halve the environmental impact of food production, including supporting Tesco’s suppliers in setting sustainability targets.
Sarah Wakefield, environmental group WWF’s head of food transformation, said: “We welcome this latest leadership by Tesco, to be a part of the solution by incentivising their suppliers to report on their emissions and take action to align with 1.5°C climate targets.
“This takes us closer to achieving our shared goal of halving the environmental impact of the average shopping basket.”
29 April 2021: Pandora secures €950m sustainability-linked revolving credit facility
Jewellery retailer Pandora has secured a €950 million sustainability-linked revolving credit facility to refinance the current undrawn facility maturing in May 2022.
The new facility has a pricing mechanism that links borrowing costs to Pandora’s progress on two sustainability goals: becoming carbon neutral in own operations by 2025; and using only recycled silver and gold by 2025.
Depending on the degree to which it meets the targets, the retailer’s borrowing costs could rise or fall.
The facility will be part of the company’s liquidity reserve and has an initial five-year term, which may be extended by an additional two years.
Anders Boyer, Pandora Group’s chief financial officer, said: “Pandora has set out to become a low-carbon and circular business.
“This type of loan connects the company’s capital structure to our sustainability agenda and creates a very clear incentive for us to reach our targets. It also confirms the financial community’s appreciation of our sustainability strategy.”
Pandora also said it successfully switched to using 100% renewable energy at its Thai crafting facilities in 2020. By 2025, it wants to become carbon neutral across all its operations and move entirely to using recycled silver and gold.
28 April 2021: John Lewis Partnership seeks built environment sustainability manager
The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) is on the hunt for a sustainability manager (built environment), to join the team responsible for innovating, designing and delivering the property aspects related to scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions targets.
According to the job spec, the successful candidate will work with the Technical Services team, which is responsible for setting standards, policy and specification used to design, build, commission and maintain the organisation’s buildings across its John Lewis and Waitrose divisions.
Part of the role will be to reinvigorate JLP’s ‘Responsible Development Framework’ to ensure they align with its net-zero goals.
Interested parties can apply for the job here: bit.ly/3aJVmBr
27 April 2021: The Perfume Shop reports refillable sales success
The Perfume Shop said today that it has seen a surge in sales of its refillable perfume ranges.
It noted that perfume brand Mugler was one of the first to introduce refillables for its scents, including Angel and Alien. The Perfume Shop reported online sales of Mugler refillable scents were up by 368% year on year in the first quarter of 2021, while Alien refill sales jumped by 507%.
Cathy Newman, The Perfume Shop’s marketing & customer experience director, remarked: “We’ve seen a steady increase in the popularity of refillable scents ever since big brands first started introducing them.
“As customers become more conscious not just of packaging but of economical options in terms of price, we’re seeing more and more refillable launches.”
26 April 2021: Allbirds announces Better Responsible Design programme
US-based trainer retailer Allbirds has announced a Better Responsible Design (BRD) programme, alongside footwear academy Pensole.
The initiative is aimed at identifying and nurturing the next generation of sustainability-driven designers.
BRD will give 20 young designers access to leading industry experts and unique professional instruction, and it is focused on giving new talent the tools they require to create environmentally conscious work.
Allbirds and Pensole will specifically source talent from historically black colleges and universities, and art and design colleges across the US, as well as looking for gifted amateurs who are looking to break into the footwear space.
Allbirds said it expected participants to emerge from the programme with an understanding of the challenges and opportunities of working with natural fibres and how to design with carbon intensity in mind.
At the end of the eight-week scheme, two graduates will be chosen to join Allbirds for a three-month internship.
In a Medium post, Tim Brown, co-founder and co-CEO of Allbirds, commented: “Both of our organisations understand that the future of design must be viewed through an environmental lens, and that the next generation of creatives will be vital in dreaming up new ideas and innovations that will unlock potentially world-changing climate solutions.
“We’re thrilled to work with Pensole and these talented young creatives, and hope that, together, we can play a small part in creating a more supportive, sustainable footwear industry.”
23 April 2021: Re-commerce goes public as musicMagpie lists on AIM market
Re-commerce business musicMagpie has listed on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange (LSE).
The company, which operates in the UK and US specialising in refurbished consumer technology, will use the ticker “MMAG”.
Founded in 2007, the Greater Manchester-based group, which trades in the US as Decluttr, built its empire on buying and reselling used CDs and DVDs. It now buys and resells a wider range of tech items such as phones and other electrical gadgets.
The company received the LSE’s Green Economy Mark, which recognises companies that derive 50% or more of their total annual revenue from products and services that contribute to the global ‘Green Economy’.
Steve Oliver, CEO & co-founder of musicMagpie, said: “This is an exciting new chapter in the musicMagpie story, and we are delighted to welcome our new shareholders to the business.
“The company has been on a fantastic journey since Walter Gleeson and I founded it in 2007, and I am hugely proud of the hard work, innovation and dedication of our people in getting the business to where it is today. I am thrilled that our colleagues can now have a direct stake in musicMagpie’s future success.”
He added: “I am also particularly pleased that musicMagpie has received the LSE’s Green Economy Mark. It is a clear recognition of our strong environmental, social and corporate governance credentials as we continue to provide a service that is both smart for the consumer and smart for the planet.”
22 April 2021: New Levi’s ad warns against overconsumption
Jeans and fashion brand Levi’s has launched a new advert with sustainable thinking as its heart.
Under the tagline, “Buy better, wear longer”, the ad calls on consumers to be more environmentally and socially aware. It stars several recognisable figures, or “change makers” as Levi’s describes them, to highlight the message.
Jaden Smith, Emma Chamberlain and Marcus Rashford are among those featured on the ad.
One version of the ad ends with the message: “It’s cool to thrift, it’s cool to wear the same clothes, and it’s cool to be sustainable.”
20 April 2021: Mulberry says it will buy back, resell or repurpose preloved bags
Luxury fashion retailer Mulberry said today it will buy back, resell or repurpose any preloved Mulberry bag as part of a “commitment to transform the business to a regenerative and circular model”.
The brand launched its new ‘Sustainability Manifesto’ called Mulberry Made to Last, which included several measures it plans to undertake to become a greener business.
Among Mulberry’s list of commitments was the promise to develop the world’s lowest carbon leather sourced from “a network of organic and environmentally conscious farms”, as well as underlining it will continue to extend the life of its products through repair and restoration services.
Mulberry said its repairs team at The Rookery, one of its Somerset factories, repair and renew over 10,000 bags a year already, “with leather and hardware archives going back 35 years”.
Thierry Andretta, CEO of Mulberry, remarked: “At Mulberry we have already taken significant action to embed sustainability across our business, but today we offer our commitment to a programme of transformative change, embedding principles of regeneration and circularity across our entire supply chain.”
20 April 2021: Zalando shines light on sustainability attitude/behaviour gap
European online retail platform Zalando has highlighted ten ways the fashion industry can help close the gap between consumers’ attitudes and behaviour when it comes to sustainable action.
In “It Takes Two: How the Industry and Consumers Can Close the Sustainability ‘Attitude-Behaviour Gap’ in Fashion.”, Zalando urges retailers to help their customers care for and repair their clothes, and to invest in second-hand services. Among the tips and advice is the message to integrate circularity throughout a product’s lifecycle.
But the report argues that retailers alone cannot improve sustainable consumerism, adding it is a two-way street with their customers.
David Schneider, co-CEO of Zalando, said in the report’s foreword: “As the title of this report says, it takes two – meaning neither the industry nor our consumers can make the change alone.
“We must act in concert. Here we present ten recommendations for industry stakeholders, which may help them close the attitude-behaviour gap. We also offer some actionable ideas for consumers – suggesting how they can animate their sustainable fashion ambitions.”
The report highlights that many consumers struggle to turn their sustainability priorities into fashion purchasing decisions.
Kate Heiny, director of sustainability at Zalando, added: “Our customers tell us that they care deeply about sustainability, but they struggle to translate their values into actions when they go into stores or shop online.
“Our role as a platform is to enable ourselves, our brands, and our customers to make more sustainable choices, inspire collaborative action and long-lasting change.”
16 April 2021: Apple unveils forestry investment fund
Consumer electronics business Apple has announced carbon removal initiative – called the ‘Restore Fund’ – that it said will make investments in forestry projects to remove carbon from the atmosphere while generating a financial return for investors.
Launched with Conservation International and Goldman Sachs, the $200 million fund aims to remove at least one million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually from the atmosphere. Apple also said it wanted to show there is a viable financial model that can help scale up investment in forest restoration.
Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy & social initiatives, commented: “Nature provides some of the best tools to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
“Forests, wetlands, and grasslands draw carbon from the atmosphere and store it away permanently in their soils, roots, and branches. Through creating a fund that generates both a financial return as well as real, and measurable carbon impacts, we aim to drive broader change in the future – encouraging investment in carbon removal around the globe.”
She added: “Our hope is that others share our goals and contribute their resources to support and protect critical ecosystems.”
15 April 2021: Asos and DPD unveil ‘ReLove’ clothing donation initiative
Online retailer Asos has partnered with carrier service DPD to allow consumers to arrange charity clothing donations to be collected from their doorstep when their new order arrives.
Dubbed ReLove, the DPD-led service will involve delivery drivers picking up items and delivering them to one of five UK charities, free of charge. Asos customers who are expecting a DPD delivery can use the YourDPD app to select Scope, Marie Curie, British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross or The Children’s Society.
As part of the initiative, consumers will be encouraged to re-use DPD or Asos packaging when preparing the charitable donations.
14 April 2021: Heineken joins The Climate Group’s RE100 club
Netherlands-based brewer Heineken has joined non-profit organisation The Climate Group’s RE100.
RE100 is an energy initiative for business where the ‘100’ means a commitment to buying 100% renewable electricity. In April alone, a landmark 300 companies have added their name to the cause, including battery manufacturing company LG Energy Solution and electronics business Epson, while furniture retailer Ikea is a founding member of the RE100.
Petra Hissink, global sustainability director at Heineken, remarked: “Since 2018, Heineken has made major progresses at sourcing renewable electricity.
“We are very proud to brew in the largest solar-powered brewery and have signed one of the largest European PPA [power purchase agreements] through a consortium. Joining RE100 is a milestone in our 2030 net-zero journey.”
12 April 2021: Baby food brand Piccolo unveils recyclable pouch and First Mile partnership
Baby food brand, Piccolo, has introduced a recyclable pouch for its product packaging.
Piccolo claims the Yellow & Go baby food pouches are the first in the baby food industry to be made from one material (rather than a composite of different plastics and aluminium), meaning they can be recycled.
In addition, Piccolo has partnered with environmental business, First Mile, to allow parents to recycle their Yellow & Go pouches from home.
The multipack box doubles up as a returns box, with a QR code that allows parents to download the free returns label to put on the box and send to First Mile when the pouches have been used. First Mile sends the pouches for recycling and they get turned into new polypropylene (PP)-based products.
First Mile said it is also working with Piccolo to explore the potential to use the recycled PP and help turn it into new food pouches, creating a closed loop system for its product lines in the process.
9 April 2021: Asos updates the market
Asos released impressive half-year sales results for the six months to 28 February, and took the opportunity to update the market on several greener initiatives it has embarked on.
It said 75% of all Asos operations are now powered by renewable electricity, adding that on-site solar panel scoping is also under way.
As a retailer of so-called fast fashion, Asos is always under scrutiny in regard to its environmental impact. The company said it is collaborating with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Centre for Sustainable Fashion on a circular design roadmap, with regard to its packaging.
Another greener retailing aspect of this week’s results announcement was that Asos’s ‘Reclaimed Vintage’ range posted 92% sales growth year on year. As a relatively new category that growth comes from a low starting point, but it shows the potential of ‘greener’ clothing ranges.
The Reclaimed Vintage range includes some customised items that have been created using offcuts and scrap material.
8 April 2021: Morrisons to remove plastic ‘bags for life’ from stores
UK supermarket Morrisons has announced it will remove plastic ‘bags for life’ carriers from its stores.
Shoppers will be offered paper bags which the grocer said are reusable, recyclable, and water resistant.
These new bags will cost 30p and will be one of several reusable carrier options offered by the retailer at the checkout.
In a Twitter post, Morrisons said: “We’re removing plastic carrier bags from our stores.
“That equates to 3,200 tonnes of plastic removed per year. You can instead buy our reusable paper carrier bags, which can hold up to 16kg of shopping, plus they’re recyclable and water resistant.”
7 April 2021: ‘Plastic Shop’ part of Anya Hindmarch’s new village of stores
Luxury handbags and accessories brand Anya Hindmarch is opening the ‘Anya Village’ on 17 May, featuring a selection of different themed stores all clustered together on London’s Pont Street.
One of those stores is the Plastic Shop, which will centre around the company’s ‘I Am A Plastic Bag’ collection where each bag and accessory is made from a cotton canvas-feel fabric that’s created from recycled plastic bottles. Each piece is designed to never be thrown away, according to the retailer.
The Plastic Shop will also provide a platform to showcase and collaborate with others working and creating in the field of sustainability.
6 April 2021: Missguided takes paper out of returns process
Fast fashion retailer Missguided has made its return process paperless, as part of its efforts to reduce waste.
The move means customers will no longer receive a returns slip in their parcel. Instead, consumers will be encouraged to conduct the return online.
In 2019, Missguided was named alongside Boohoo, TK Maxx and other fashion retailers, in an Environmental Audit Committee report, as not doing enough to promote environmental sustainability.
2 April 2021: Asos and Oxfam trial ‘second life’ clothing donation partnership
Charity Oxfam and online fast fashion retailer Asos have trialled a postal donation scheme in an attempt to encourage more people to give unwanted garments a second life.
A selection of Asos customers have received Oxfam postal donation bags with their orders, offering them what the charity called “an easy way” to donate clothing to Oxfam.
An Oxfam blog stated: “Partnering with major retailers like Asos is a brilliant way for Oxfam to encourage more people to donate their pre-loved items.
“All donated clothing will be directly received, managed and resold by Oxfam, helping to reduce items going to landfill and raise more money for people living in poverty.”
The tie-up with Asos came as Oxfam launched the option for all consumers to donate unwanted clothes to the charity by post, for free, supported by fulfilment service Collect+.
1 April 2021: McDonald’s seeking a director of sustainability (nature and climate)
McDonald’s is on the hunt for a director of sustainability (nature and climate), based in London.
It’s a wide ranging role, with the primary focus on supply chain impacts. Other responsibilities include developing the restaurant chain’s 2030 Commitment on Forests strategy and managing considerations to expand the broader strategy on nature.
The director of sustainability (nature and climate) will also be tasked with developing an overarching strategy for the company, including exploring opportunities to evolve McDonald’s existing forests commitments.
The chosen applicant will report to Jenny McColloch, chief sustainability officer at McDonald’s, who is based in the US.
McColloch used LinkedIn to describe the position as “an exciting and important leadership role on our global team”.
“This strategy leader works with an incredible network of global partners to shape and manage McDonald’s Global Impact strategy for Forests, Climate, Water and other nature-based solutions, with a primary focus on supply chain impacts,” she explained.