Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from retailers around the world, including Allbirds, thredUP, and Halfords.
June 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 May. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen this month:
30 June 2021: Allbirds details ‘ambitious, science-based sustainability targets’
Footwear brand Allbirds has announced its ‘Allbirds Flight Plan’, which is said includes “ten of the most ambitious, science-based sustainability targets in the footwear and apparel industry”.
The plan involves long-term ambitions with near-term targets, as well as promising cradle to grave accountability for its products.
“Sharing this level of detail with you is, frankly, a little risky, because it allows you to hold us accountable — not to vague, far off commitments, but to very specific actions and near term progress,” Allbirds said on its Medium page.
“Achieving our goals will require discipline within our own organisation, as well as huge change in the world. There’s a real possibility we may miss some of them, and if we do, you will be the first to know.”
It added: “But the urgency of the climate crisis is an asset. It gives us permission to prioritise progress over perfection. Rather than wasting precious time searching for a single “theoretical best” option, we will take action on the many “good enough” options available right now.”
29 June 2021: Farfetch Donate launches in US
Online luxury fashion marketplace and technology company Farfetch has rolled out its Farfetch Donate service to the US.
Powered by resale platform thredUP, the service enables people to clear out their closet, donate to charity, earn Farfetch credit, and help drive a more circular economy.
Meanwhile, Thrift+ continues to power the Farfetch Donate service in the UK, and has done so since 2019.
25 June 2021: Costa Coffee raids Tesco for UK&I sustainability lead
Costa Coffee has appointed Laurence Webb as its UK & Ireland sustainability lead.
Webb arrives at the coffee chain after 7.5 years working at the UK’s largest retailer, Tesco, where he has led and developed responsible sourcing strategy.
24 June 2021: Infarm appoints new supply chain boss from Adidas
Vertical farming company Infarm has appointed Alexandra Morton as its new global executive vice president of supply chain management.
Morton has joined from Adidas, where she served as senior vice president for the European supply chain. Infarm, which works with companies such as Marks & Spencer, Selfridges, and Whole Foods, said Morton’s new role will focus on building a “scalable and sustainable global supply chain, continuing to drive Infarm’s goal of zero waste and zero greenhouse gas emissions”.
Infarm’s harvesting-on-demand model aims to disrupt traditional agriculture techniques by enabling food to be grown in urban areas in dedicated smaller sites. It argues that vertical farming saves water and land space, as well as reducing the time it takes products to get from farm to fork.
The goal of the Berlin-based business is to create 100 growing centres in cities globally by 2025.
23 June 2021: Lego Group unveils prototype brick made from recycled plastic
Lego Group has unveiled a prototype brick which uses PET plastic from discarded bottles.
It represents the first brick made from a recycled material to meet what the company described as its “strict quality and safety requirements”.
The Denmark-headquartered brand said a team of more than 150 people are working to find sustainable solutions for Lego products. Over the past three years, materials scientists and engineers tested over 250 variations of PET materials and hundreds of other plastic formulations, leading to today’s prototype announcement.
Vice president of environmental responsibility at the Lego Group, Tim Brooks, said: “The biggest challenge on our sustainability journey is rethinking and innovating new materials that are as durable, strong and high quality as our existing bricks – and fit with Lego elements made over the past 60 years.
“With this prototype we’re able to showcase the progress we’re making.”
22 June 2021: Co-op Power plans rapid growth and support to UK businesses
Energy-buying cooperative Co-op Power is aiming to grow by 30% in 2021, using its collective buying capability to help Co-op suppliers, and other businesses, save money and source purely green, low-cost energy in an ethical, sustainable way.
As part of a wide range of measures, it plans to expand its Co-op Power wind and solar energy buying group to offer its services to Co-op’s suppliers and more UK businesses and organisations.
It also promised to double the amount of Power Purchase Agreements to help boost renewable capacity and reduce carbon intensity of electricity. Co-op Power said such a move “would not only guarantee a source of green but also guarantee providence of power, whilst helping to fund future green projects”.
Co-op Food CEO, Jo Whitfield, commented: “We are facing a monumental climate change crisis entirely of our own making.
“We must recognise that we are in part responsible and that we have to do more and quicker. Emissions from our operations are where we have the greatest responsibility and can make the biggest difference.”
21 June 2021: Second-hand market to double in next 5 years to $77bn, says thredUP
Online marketplace for second-hand fashion thredUP has published its 2021 Resale Report, highlighting the growth of the resale and second-hand market.
It estimates the second-hand market is projected to double in next five years, reaching $77 billion.
James Reinhart, thredUP co-founder & CEO, said in the report’s foreword: “We are in the early stages of a radical transformation in retail. Consumers are prioritising sustainability, retailers are starting to embrace resale, and policy makers are getting on board with the circular economy.
“Pollutive industries have the power to transform when technological innovation collides with the motivations of consumers, businesses, and government. We’ve seen it with electric cars, solar energy, and next, circular fashion.”
18 June 2021: Big-name corporates behind launch of Business Alliance for Scaling Climate Solutions
Amazon, Disney and Netflix are among the companies forming the Business Alliance for Scaling Climate Solutions (BASCS), which launched earlier this month to increase the scale and impact of business investment in climate solutions.
The BASCS, which also includes, Google, Microsoft, Salesforce, Unilever, and Workday, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund, United Nations Environment Programme, World Wildlife Fund and BSR, says the alliance is “a critical component for meeting the ambition of the Paris Agreement”.
BASCS aims to gather and disseminate information and opportunities for and from peers, practitioners, and experts, including sharing best practices, funding opportunities, and research and insights to scale and improve climate solutions.
Kara Hurst, vice president of worldwide sustainability at Amazon, said: “As part of our commitment to The Climate Pledge, Amazon is on our way to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, which is good for the planet, people and our business.
“We remain focused on driving decarbonisation strategies throughout our business, as well as investing in additional and quantifiable natural climate solutions to remove carbon and tackle climate change. We look forward to continuing to work across sectors with BASCS to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon economy.”
Aron Cramer, president & CEO of BSR, which serves as secretariat for the alliance, added: “In this decisive decade, we need urgent climate action to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and achieve an inclusive net zero economy.
“BSR is proud to serve as the secretariat for the BASCS, advising the initiative in its effort to unlock finance for much needed climate solutions. We believe collaborations such as BASCS are key to transforming climate ambition into meaningful action and scaling impact.”
17 June 2021: Halfords training staff to deal with electrification of transport
Auto parts and bike retailer Halfords said today it will have more than 2,000 staff trained to service electric vehicles by the end of its current financial year.
Halfords’ store and garage staff will be trained to deal with electric cars, vans, bikes and scooters.
Halfords will announce its wider sustainability plans and progress in July, as part of its annual report, but preparation for the UK’s electrification of transport is top of the retailer’s list of corporate social responsibility targets for the year ahead.
16 June 2021: BRC seeks new head of sustainability
Trade body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) is on the hunt for a head of sustainability, as it grows in importance for the wider industry.
Specialist sustainability recruitment firm Acre is helping with the search, with current BRC head of sustainability policy, Peter Andrews, leaving the organisation this summer.
The agency says: “This is a high-profile opportunity to work with the biggest UK retailers and drive the industry’s CSR agenda.
“As well as delivering the BRC’s ground-breaking climate action roadmap and progressive ethical labour agenda, the head of sustainability will drive the move towards a circular economy to make a real difference in global supply chains.”
15 June 2021: Wolf & Badger announces Thrift+ partnership
Wolf & Badger has launched a partnership with Thrift+ to give its customers a chance to donate pre-loved clothes and raise money for charitable causes.
Visitors to the B Corp fashion retailer’s London store in London’s King’s Cross can collect a Thrift+ bag, fill it with unwanted quality clothes using the free returns service, and then a percentage of the resale proceeds will be donated to a charity of their choice.
Participants will gain credits to use on the Thrift+ website – and they’ll get a 10% off code to use online or in store at Wolf & Badger in recognition of where they collected the clothing return bag.
Thrift+ asks for items from “recognisable brands in new or excellent condition”.
14 June 2021: DPD doubles electric vehicle delivery fleet
Parcel carrier and retail delivery partner DPD has doubled its electric vehicle (EV) fleet to almost 1,500 vans thanks to a partnership with Maxus Deliver.
Some 750 e Deliver vans have joined the DPD fleet, with more to come that will take the total to 1,700 EVs on the road by the end of 2021.
The deal includes 500 long wheelbase 3.5t electric vans and 250 of the smaller e Deliver 3 model. DPD has purchased both the 72kw and longer range 88kw versions of the e Deliver 9, with the 88kw version able to cover over 200 miles on a single charge.
The e Deliver 9 is set to be a key feature in DPD’s first ever UK TV advert, which is due imminently.
Olly Craughan, head of corporate social responsibility at DPD, said: “We’ve got EVs in every DPD depot already, but they are largely focused on quite compact routes, usually in city centres, where range isn’t an issue. But this opens up the possibility of clean, green deliveries on a much larger scale.”
11 June 2021: Tesco’s electric vehicle chargers star in new VW ad
The UK’s largest retailer, Tesco, offers electric vehicle charging at 400 of its stores across the UK, as part of a partnership with car manufacturer Volkswagen and charging infrastructure provider, Pod Point.
And now the latest TV advert from VW features Tesco’s Sutton Cheam Extra store.
Green Retail World views the ad as an encouraging sign that ‘going electric’ is becoming common parlance targeted at the driver population in the UK. Marketing campaigns like this start to normalise what is still a nascent behaviour among consumers in the UK.
Tesco also reiterated today that it has signed power purchase agreements with Low Carbon and EDF to create new solar farms throughout the UK, which it said will help the business procure more renewable energy.
“We’ve also installed hundreds of solar panels across our UK stores, with work still ongoing, and will make all of our Dotcom delivery vans fully electric by 2028,” it added.
9 June 2021: Pets at Home publishes ‘pets, people, planet’ Social Value Report
Pets at Home has gone into detail on its corporate social responsibility efforts, via the publication of its second ever standalone Social Value Report.
It goes into detail about issues around energy managament and waste disposal, and the company’s ambitions to improve its carbon footprint.
“During the year we have completed a large project to review the primary packaging across all of our own brand and exclusive branded products,” it stated.
“We have identified that over 75% of our packaging, by weight, is currently recyclable as defined by the OPRL guidelines.
“We have identified opportunities to progressively move existing packaging to improved materials and we have set a target to ensure that 100% of our packaging will be recyclable, recycled or compostable by 2025.”
8 June 2021: Vivobarefoot launches shoe repair service in UK
Specialist footwear retailer and B Corp business Vivobarefoot has launched a repair service for its UK-based customers.
Powered by The Boot Repair Company, the retailer’s new scheme means it can now “refresh, recondition or revive” old Vivobarefoot items, according to the company’s commercial director, Paul Walker.
“This is just one of the many initiatives we are taking to achieve our regenerative and circular goals,” he said.
“Watch this space for an international roll-out.”
The move comes after last July’s launch of www.revivo.com, an online footwear repair and then resale service.
7 June 2021: Mytheresa partners with Vestiaire Collective for resale service
Luxury eCommerce platform Mytheresa has partnered with pre-loved fashion marketplace Vestiaire Collective.
Mytheresa’s top clients will be invited to participate in the programme, putting forward their pre-loved handbags for resale on Vestiaire Collective in return for Mytheresa store credit.
More products are expected to be added to the resale service before the end of the year.
4 June 2021: Fat Face launches online game with Marine Conservation Society
Fashion retailer Fat Face has launched its first collaboration with the Marine Conservation Society.
A digital game of pairs, where players need match sea creatures for a chance to win £500 to spend at Fat Face, is now live on the retailer’s website.
The game is supported by Odicci, which helps brands find ways to collect zero and first-party customer data. It represents Fat Face’s first Odicci gamification experience on the site.
3 June 2021: Kingfisher enters into £550m three-year loan linked to sustainability targets
B&Q and Screwfix parent company Kingfisher has entered into a £550 million responsible business-linked revolving credit facility.
Under the terms of the new loan, which has a duration of three years with the possibility of two one-year extensions, Kingfisher will benefit from a lower interest rate if it delivers specific targets which are aligned with the group’s responsible business plan.
Kingfisher’s broad commitments linked to the loan include helping reduce climate change, creating more forests than it uses in its products and operations, and fighting to fix poor housing.
For instance, one target linked to the loan is to reach 100% sustainable wood and paper for its products by the 2025-26 financial year. According to the retail group, the current level is 80.7%.
Bernard Bot, Kingfisher’s chief financial officer, said: “This revolving credit facility shows our commitment to integrate our responsible business principles into all aspects of our business.”
2 June 2021: H&M’s second-hand Sellpy platform expands to additional 20 nations
Swedish second-hand platform Sellpy, which is majority owned by fashion retail group H&M, has expanded to a further 20 European countries.
Already available in Germany and – as of February this year – serving the Netherlands and Austrian markets, it has added several new European nations to its network through its Sellpy.com website.
Gustav Wessman, head of expansion at Sellpy, said: “H&M Group began its strategic partnership with Sellpy in 2015, through the company’s investment arm H&M CO: LAB with the vision to empower consumers to live in a more circular way and keep fashion in use for as long as possible.
“We’re excited about Sellpy’s continued international expansion which we support with our strategic partnership and as owners. We always aim for adding value to our portfolio companies to support them in realising their ambitions.”
To meet the increasing demand from European customers, Sellpy will now also collaborate with H&M Group’s global supply chain and have access to a modern warehouse unit in Poznań, Poland. All processes related to Sellpy’s services will be operated by the Poland-based logistics team.
1 June 2021: Superdry’s Dunkerton on sustainability ‘as the guiding principle’
Superdry founder & CEO, Julian Dunkerton, has taken to LinkedIn to share his views on sustainability and how it is “a guiding principle for Superdry, both as a brand and as a business”.
In his first post on the social media platform, he talked up his company topping the Financial Times’ inaugural “Europe’s Climate Leaders 2021″ report, which lists companies that have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions more than others.
“This achievement is testament to the hard work of everyone in the business, especially our sustainability team led by Shaun Packe,” Dunkerton explained.
“But we are very conscious there remains much to do. The report only measures scope 1 and scope 2 GHG emissions, but all of us in the industry need to reduce our scope 3 emissions, the indirect impact we have across the rest of the value chain.”