Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from retailers around the world, including Auchan, PVH Corp and Made.com.
May 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 April. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen this month:
31 May 2021: Auchan Retail and Voltalia announce greener energy agreement
Sustainable energy company Voltalia and its subsidiary Helexia have announced they will support European grocery retailer Auchan switch to greener energy.
Building on previous collaborations over the past decade, which includes solar rooftop production and corporate power purchase agreements, and after one year of renewed on-field trials in several countries, Auchan and Voltalia are set to establish a broader and more sustainable partnership.
The partnership includes energy management, carrying out of energy efficiency works, and supplying renewable electricity through the construction of on-site photovoltaic power plants and the direct purchase of greener energy.
Auchan’s ambition is to achieve a 100%-renewable energy consumption and to reduce to 40% its electricity intensity by 2030, compared to 2014.
In every country where Auchan has a retail presence and where Voltalia and Helexia also are or might be in the future, the energy company will undertake site analysis and make recommendations on how the grocer can achieve its energy goals.
26 May 2021: Bluewater owner Landsec appoints new head of ESG & sustainability
Property company Landsec has appointed Jennie Colville as head of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) & sustainability.
Colville arrives at the Bluewater and One New Change owner after three years at professional services organisation Capita, where she was the responsible business director. Before that she worked for RSA Insurance Group, Kent County Council and Linklaters.
The new recruit has a MSc in environmental management from the University of Greenwich and a BSc in environmental and geographical science, archaeology and psychology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
25 May 2021: Co-op and Hubbub tie-up increases community fridge roll-out across UK
Grocery retailer Co-op and environmental charity Hubbub have announced they will expand the number of community fridges across the UK.
Community fridges, which are open to everyone, are facilities to share fresh food that would otherwise have gone to waste. Co-op will be donating surplus food from its stores.
The new partnership will see the existing Community Fridge Network increase to 250 community fridges over the 12 months ahead, and Co-op and Hubbub said it will prevent a further 6.8 million meals per year from going to waste. Some 150 fridges were already in existence, redistributing an average of almost 6,000 meals per fridge each month.
One of the first fridges of the new partnership opened last week in Failsworth, Greater Manchester at the Co-op Academy. Some 15 new community fridges are set to open their doors in May, including one in Wythenshawe, south Manchester – the home turf of footballer Marcus Rashford, who has backed the partnership.
24 May 2021: Waitrose launching flexible plastics recycling trial in 37 stores
Waitrose has joined several other retailers in launching flexible plastics recycling it its stores.
Like Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Co-op, and Aldi, which have already introduced facilities to collect various soft plastics which are difficult to recycle or are not collected by local council services, Waitrose’s initiative is in trial mode.
Some 37 stores will collect the plastic items from consumers, including dry plastic such as crisp packets, sweet wrappers and plastic film.
21 May 2021: Ocado electric delivery vehicle fleet to double in size
UK grocer Ocado has said it will almost double the number of electric delivery vehicles in its fleet, next week.
The online grocer currently has 17 fully electric-powered vans in operation, including refrigeration, and 15 additional vans are on their way before the end of June. The electric-powered vans have a blueberry design.
20 May 2021: Yoox Net-a-Porter signs Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta
Online luxury and fashion retail platform Yoox Net-a-Porter (YNAP) has committed to the Terra Carta green business charter, which is part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative launched by His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Charles.
Terra Carta puts nature, people and planet at the heart of global value creation, and encourages businesses to rethink how they operate by putting greener matters at the heart of their decision making.
As part of the Sustainable Markets Initiative, YNAP will work with other global companies and promises to collaborate and exchange knowledge to drive more responsible business practices.
YNAP founder & chairman, Federico Marchetti, said: “Today, we’re thrilled to sign the Terra Carta, an ambitious charter that importantly includes a focus on investment in technology and STEM to catalyse our transition to a sustainable and circular era.
“Harnessing innovation to drive a more sustainable and values-led approach for the fashion industry is a journey I began in early 2000, culminating last year with the launch of The Modern Artisan, a long-term project I’ve been proud to have developed together with HRH. HRH’s commitment to championing sustainability has always been ahead of its time, but now time is running out, and I urge more of the fashion industry to join us.”
20 May 2021: PVH Corp takes Tommy for Life into France
PVH Corp’s Tommy Hilfiger has expanded its Tommy for Life concept into France after an initial pilot in the Netherlands.
Tommy for Life is a division of the fashion business which restores product lines that have been damaged or returned, and sells them under the ‘Refreshed’ label. But from today, the company is also launched a ‘Remixed’ line, featuring unique upcycled styles manufactured from waste or unwanted fashion material.
Esther Verburg, executive vice president of sustainable business & innovation and Tommy Hilfiger Global and PVH Corp, said on LinkedIn said the remixed garments are made from materials that “otherwise would have gone to waste”.
“When we started Tommy for Life, we knew that we wanted to keep every item we took in, in use at its highest value,” she wrote.
“We take back items from consumers, and damaged items from our retail operations, and restore them to their former glory. These items are sold under our Refreshed line. But not every item is repairable to our high-quality standards. From those items, we have created the Remixed line.”
19 May 2021: A good week for Superdry
Fashion retailer Superdry has said it has now moved 95% of its packaging away from single-use plastics to reusable, recyclable or composable material.
A statement on social media from the company added: “We have more to do to reach our ambition of 100% by 2025.”
Superdry noted it is working with retail solutions provider Mainetti to recycle its used polybags straight back into new ones via the supplier’s new ‘Polyloop Recycling’ facility.
The Financial Times (FT) also ranked Superdry top if its inaugural Europe’s Climate Leaders listing, compiled by research company Statista. The 300 companies included are those that, according to the methodology, achieved the greatest reduction in their greenhouse gas emissions intensity between 2014 and 2019.
The FT said emissions intensity is defined as tonnes of emissions of CO2-equivalent per €1 million of revenue. The results only take account of ‘Scope 1’ and ‘Scope 2’ emissions, which, respectively, are those directly produced by a company, and those produced in generating energy used by the company.
19 May 2021: Bicester Village to host pre-loved fashion pop-up
Outlet shopping centre Bicester Village will host a pre-loved fashion pop-up store later this month.
Launching on 28 May, the new ‘Worn.’ shop will provide visitors with the chance to buy second-hand items from brands such as Alaia, Emilio Pucci, Alexander Wand, Jacquems, Ganni and others.
Worn. is a re-commerce platform and operates its own store in London’s Kensington. Co-founders, Lily Fortescue and Bella Buchanan, set themselves a mission to connect shoppers and social media influencers in order to reduce clothing waste and drive change in fashion.
18 May 2021: Coca Cola Foundation supports river clean-up campaign
Last week saw two ‘robot pirate ships’ set sail on London’s Docklands, kickstarting a campaign to prevent and reduce the amount of litter entering the UK’s waterways, and subsequently the ocean.
The ‘Treasure Your River’ initiative is a collaborative mission led by environmental charity Hubbub and funded by the Coca Cola Foundation.
It aims to remove 95 tonnes of litter and prevent a further 90 tonnes from entering seven of the UK’s vital river systems. Over the coming weeks, Treasure Your River will tackle litter in the rivers Avon, Forth, Mersey, Severn, Taff, Thames and Trent and their tributaries.
Other clean-up activities will take place in the seven major cities based on these rivers – Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Nottingham.
Gavin Ellis, director and co-founder of Hubbub, said: “As lockdown restrictions are lifted there is increased concern about the amount of litter in our public and green spaces.
“Treasure Your River aims to make the connection between litter in our towns and cities and plastic in the oceans, and to offer people something positive they can do about it. The majority of plastics in the oceans are carried there by rivers; the River Mersey for example has proportionately higher levels of microplastic pollution than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.”
He added: “We invite any individual or organisations along these rivers to come together and help halt the flow of litter into the sea. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re a local business, a sailing club, a school, a charity or a resident.”
Partner organisations for the campaign include Angling Trust, Canal & River Trust, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Keep Wales Tidy, Mersey Rivers Trust, Sustainable Hive and Thames21. The Rivers Trust is also partnering to independently measure the impact of the campaign, using technology including geotagging of litter reduction activities to create a map of the results of the nation’s collective efforts.
The results will be shared with partners including the Marine Conservation Society to build a wider map of UK litter.
17 May 2021: Costa Coffee drive-thrus to get more EV charge points
Coffee chain Costa Coffee will be installing more electric vehicle (EV) charge points at its UK drive-thru destinations.
Working with EV charge point network, InstaVolt, up to 200 Costa Coffee locations will be accompanied by the facilities to power the growing number of electric vehicles on the UK’s roads.
The chargers will be placed at new and existing stores, building on Costa’s existing network of 176 EV charging points across the UK.
InstaVolt promises charging speeds of up to 120kW via its ‘open charger’ model, which can be accessed on a pay-as-you-go basis by drivers.
14 May 2021: Second-hand fashion marketplace Vinted raises €250m
Lithuania-based second-hand fashion marketplace Vinted has announced a €250 million funding round, which now means the company is valued at €3.5 billion.
Global investment group EQT Growth led the round, with the money set to support the company’s growth, investment in technology, and international expansion plans.
Founded in 2008, Vinted operates in over ten markets already. It is a consumer-to-consumer marketplace, which has gained traction in recent years as more consumers have moved towards circular fashion models in light of the climate crisis.
Thomas Plantenga, CEO of Vinted, said: “We are contributing to a seismic shift in the second-hand fashion market, enabling more sustainable, socially-responsible shopping habits.
“Our platform offers a great, easy-to-use product and helps people experience the benefits of second-hand trade. We want to replicate the success we’ve built in our existing European markets in new geographies and will continue investing to improve not only our product, but also to ensure we continue having a positive impact.”
13 May 2021: Adyen allows its merchants to offer consumers carbon offsetting opportunity at checkout
Payments provider Adyen has launched ‘Planet’, which allows those using its technology to offer their shoppers the opportunity to offset the carbon footprint of their purchases at the end of the checkout process.
This optional feature, which can be implemented at no additional cost to the merchant, directly supports climate action projects focused on issues such as reforestation and renewable energy.
The option to balance out the carbon footprint occurs after checkout, which Adyen said ensures a frictionless payment process is maintained.
In order to ensure the data quality of emissions per purchase calculated, Adyen partnered with carbon finance consultancy, South Pole, to build its own greenhouse gas emissions calculator.
One of the first merchants to activate Planet is Kazidomi, an online supermarket chain with a health-based mission.
11 May 2021: Made.com incentivises customers to redistribute old furniture via Geev
Online furniture Made.com has started incentivising its customers to list their old furniture on Geev when they purchase new items.
Consumers who buy goods at Made.com can click ‘choose your charity’ once their order has been confirmed. They will then be directed to list their preloved products on the website Geev, which lets people pass on items for free in their local community.
Once the listed preloved furniture finds a new home, Made.com will donate 10% of the new order value to the customer’s chosen charity.
In doing this, Made.com is giving consumers an alternative option to putting unwanted furniture into landfill.
Made.com’s chosen charity partners for this initiative are: Groundwork, which supports positive action on the environment; Centrepoint, which provides homeless young people with accommodation and support; akt, which supports LGBTQ+ young people aged 16-25 in the UK who are facing or experiencing homelessness; KidsOut, which campaigns for disadvantaged children; and WONDER Foundation, which empowers women, girls and their community by offering access to quality education.
11 May 2021: Chanel starts three-year partnership with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership
Luxury fashion house Chanel has begun a three-year partnership with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL).
It will initially focus on building an education and sustainability leadership programme, operational projects aimed at driving innovation within the Chanel business, and the company sponsoring people from under-represented backgrounds to join CISL’s Masters in Sustainability Leadership programme over the next three years.
The collaboration will draw on expertise from across the University of Cambridge, including the Institute of Manufacturing, the Cambridge Judge Business School and its climate change initiative, Cambridge Zero.
Andrea d’Avack, chief sustainability officer at Chanel, said: “This new partnership reflects key pillars of our business transformation: from research and insights that deepen our understanding to finding tangible solutions that positively impact our supply chain and wider communities.
“This is underpinned by educational initiatives that will help to embed a sustainability mindset to accelerate change.”
Clare Shine, director & CEO of CISL, added: “This is a really important partnership with Chanel that can generate long-term benefits at global scale.
“Many of the solutions required for truly sustainable economies and societies do not yet exist, are not commercially viable or are not yet fully scalable. We believe that this bold research-backed initiative will help Chanel in its ongoing efforts to shape the future of luxury, inform leadership and best practices, and inspire responsible businesses around the world.”
10 May 2021: Premier Foods promotes Hannah Collyer to director of corporate affairs & ESG
Premier Foods has announced the promotion of Hannah Collyer to director of corporate affairs and environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG).
Over the last three years, former Dixons Carphone media communications lead Collyer has played a key role in driving Premier Foods’ responsibility strategy as corporate affairs director. The additional ESG remit represents a wider job role for her and a newly created job title for Premier Foods.
Collyer is on Premier Foods’s executive leadership team, and she reports to CEO, Alex Whitehouse.
Whitehouse said: “As a business that is committed to operating both responsibly and sustainably, it is important to us that our work on ESG has clear leadership at the top of our organisation, and this role will make sure that is always the case.”
10 May 2021: Co-op’s Steve Murrells to chair BRC Climate Action Roadmap steering group
Trade association the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has today announced that Steve Murrells, Co-op Group CEO, will chair the steering group behind its Climate Action Roadmap.
The BRC’s Climate Action Roadmap has united more than 70 UK retailers, who have each pledged to help the industry and its supply chain reach net zero by 2040.
Those supporting the roadmap understand that a collective effort by the whole retail industry is required to achieve such a target.
The steering group chaired by Murrells includes CEOs and senior executives from some of the UK’s best-known retailers, including Sainsbury’s, Iceland, Ikea, Mountain Warehouse, Dunelm, and Feelunique. It aims to establish and oversee the strategy and progress in getting the UK retail industry to net zero by 2040.
This work is supported by five BRC partnerships – one for each focus area of the roadmap – with Crown Estate, DP World, Google, IBM and PwC.
7 May 2021: Joules links credit facility to sustainability performance
Joules announced earlier this week that it has converted current credit facilities with Barclays Bank to an environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)-linked financing arrangement.
The borrowing involves a £25 million revolving credit facility and £9 million loan, which have both been extended to September 2024 as part of the switch in structure.
As part of the arrangement, Joules will benefit from a lower interest rate loan margin if the group reduces its carbon emission intensity, delivers 100% more sustainable materials in the manufacturing of its products, and increases its employee engagement score.
The details of the targets and progress against them will be reported alongside the publication of the group’s annual results and its ‘Responsibly Joules’ update each year.
Marc Dench, chief financial officer at Joules, said: “This extension to our financing facilities further enhances the group’s robust financial position and, importantly, further aligns Joules’ sustainability commitments, which are central to our business purposes, to the group’s long-term financial strategy and performance.
“With growth comes responsibility. The decision to link this financing to our ESG focus areas reflects the group’s stated commitments to create value for all stakeholders by reducing its environmental footprint and positively impacting the people we work with, the communities we’re based in, and the world around us.”
6 May 2021: Online marketplace for charity shops launches in UK
Thriftify – an online marketplace connecting charity shops with consumers – has launched across the UK today.
The company, which says it already partners with 95% of charity retailers in Ireland – has already teamed up with 75 shops in the UK.
Thriftify, which lists charity partners including Oxfam Ireland, Sue Ryder, and Wessex Cancer Trust, enables consumers to browse and buy quality second-hand products online – including fashion, books, music, games, gifts and accessories – from charity shops.
For charity retailers, Thriftify provides an online platform to reach a wider audience and increase revenues. Using the tech platform, they can scan a barcode or manually input information to obtain an accurate value for products donated to them, and access sustainable packaging with which to distribute goods to a wide online audience.
Thriftify is also integrated into eBay, Google Shopping, Facebook Marketplace and Amazon, which the company said gives charity shops access to millions of shoppers across the world via one account. Thriftify is currently building integrations into more eCommerce websites, including Depop and Poshmark.
Thriftify founder, Rónán Ó Dálaigh, said: “Fashion is the second most polluting industry after oil but thankfully, consumers are becoming aware of the damaging effects of ‘fast fashion’ on our planet and are looking for alternatives.”
6 May 2021: Selfridges growing its sustainability team
Christian Toennesen joined department store group Selfridges, last month, as group director of sustainability. He’s now on the hunt for a group senior sustainability manager.
Details of the London-based job can be found here.
5 May 2021: Co-op announces ambitious 10-point climate action plan
Grocery retailer Co-op has revealed its “Ten-Point Climate Plan”, which includes the commitment to be the first UK supermarket to sell fully carbon neutral own brand food and drink by 2025.
It forms part of the organisation’s plan to achieve net zero carbon emission by 2040 – ten years ahead of the UK government’s wider ambition for the nation.
Here are the ten points in the plan, which was revealed today, in the words of the Co-op:
- Make long-term changes to how we do business: We will be a net zero business by 2040, for both our operations and for our products.
- Set clear short-term milestones: We will reduce the impact of our operations by 50% and our products by 11%, both by 2025, in line with climate science.
- Rapidly reduce carbon from our operations and products: We will take clear, practical steps to reduce carbon from running our business and the products we sell, reporting progress publicly.
- Compensate for our climate impact: We will take responsibility for our ongoing emissions – our operations will be carbon neutral from 2021 and our own brand products by 2025.
- Make lower carbon choices easier for customers: We’ll support our customers and members to move to lower carbon lifestyles, starting by price matching between our Co-op own-brand plant-based and meat or dairy-based equivalent.
- Direct finance towards reducing carbon: We will align our finance, including carbon offsets and pension funds, to support lower carbon investments.
- Help suppliers on the climate change front line: We’ll support farmers, producers and communities to transition fairly to a low carbon future.
- Campaign for climate action: We will be advocating with Government to press for the necessary systemic change, including a call for greater climate impact disclosure and support for the most vulnerable.
- Co-operate for change at scale: We will actively work together across our sectors, sharing our plans and solutions, seeking to align rather than compete.
- Make our climate plan a priority: Underpinning these goals, we are linking the pay of our Food CEO to achieving our carbon reduction targets.
5 May 2021: IGD launches food surplus redistribution guide for manufacturers
Grocery training organisation IGD has launched a guide to help manufacturing companies increase their redistribution of surplus food.
Maximising Food Surplus Redistribution: A Guide For Food Manufacturing Businesses, is the first step in what the IGD has called a new programme of work on redistribution.
IGD has joined forces with Ben Elliot, food surplus & waste champion for the Department for Food, Environment & Rural Affairs, to launch the guide, which will be followed by the creation of a new online redistribution resources hub this summer.
Susan Barratt, IGD CEO, said: “Today, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, one in six people are experiencing food insecurity.
“A range of organisations, including charities and community groups, help this group meet their needs for food and provide other vital services for vulnerable members of society; and the Covid-19 pandemic has seen a huge growth in the need for food to reach these organisations.”
She added: “Our industry has done a fabulous job supporting local charities and communities in this mission, but there is more we can do together and having spoken to lots of organisations, I know there is an appetite to drive a step change in the level of surplus food that is redistributed.”
4 May 2021: Boots online dedicates section to B Corp brands
UK and Ireland health and beauty retailer Boots has started listing B Corp brands separately on its website.
From Aromatherapy Associates and Ella’s Kitchen to Beauty Kitchen and The Cheeky Panda, several B Corp brands can now be found in a dedicated area of the popular site.
Online grocer began listing B Corp brands separately earlier this year.
Boots website states: “Certified B Corporations (B Corps) are for-profit companies that use business as a force for good.
“They build a more inclusive and sustainable economy by considering the impact of their decisions on workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment. The certification is only awarded to companies that meet the highest standards of social and environmental accountability.”