Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from Waitrose, Boots, Holland & Barrett and many more.
September 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 August. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen this month:
30 September 2021: Zalando invests in textile regeneration technology company
European online retail marketplace Zalando has invested in Infinited Fiber Company, a textile regeneration technology business.
Infinited Fiber Company’s technology turns cellulose-based raw materials into regenerated textile fibre, Infinna.
Zalando’s investment completes a funding round recently led by H&M Group, in which Adidas and Bestseller’s investment arm, Invest FWD, also took part.
Infinited Fiber Company will use the proceeds to prepare for building its flagship factory in Finland, which comes in response to the growth in demand from global fashion and textile brands for its products.
Zalando co-CEO David Schneider said: “We want to be part of the solution for a more sustainable fashion industry.
“With the investment in Infinited Fiber Company, we initiate a collaboration with a circular technology innovator to grow the industry share of textiles recycled into new textiles, which currently sits at only 1%.”
29 September 2021: Mango to launch ‘sustainable’ brand Alter Made
Spain-based fashion retailer Mango has announced plans to launch a new sustainable-focused brand, Alter Made.
Due for launch before Christmas, the new creation will adopt perceived greener practices such as using a shorter run production strategy as a way to minimise surplus, and a more local, traceable supply chain.
Alter Made will be targeted at a specific audience that wants to consumer goods more sustainably, and Mango said it will incorporate more sustainable fabric and raw materials into the making of products. The retailer is expected to use the launch of Alter Made – which will have its own dedicate website – as a way of shaping the company’s wider sustainability strategy.
28 September 2021: Walmart creates ‘Built for Better’ platform for customers
One of the world’s largest retailers, Walmart, has created ‘Built for Better’ – an online shopping destination that allows customers to identify and shop for products that promote personal wellbeing and help reduce the impact of consumption on the planet.
Built for Better – For the Planet products listed online will have icons to highlight they are sustainably sourced or climate conscious items. Walmart recognises 30 independent standards focused primarily on environmental benefits, including Energy Star Certified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, and Better Cotton Initiative, and will underline these credentials for customers.
“All [customers] have to do is look on Walmart.com for products deemed “Built for Better” to discover items that meet independent and authoritative standards for promoting personal wellbeing and reducing our impact on the environment,” explained Jane Ewing, senior vice president, sustainability, at Walmart.
“We know transparency is important, so customers can learn more about the criteria, and the organisations that help distinguish products, in a methodology page on our site. Customers can shop Built for Better on Walmart.com and in the Walmart app and take advantage of all the same convenient pickup and delivery options we offer every day.”
She added: “Customers will be able to learn more about Built for Better and our sustainability work as part of a marketing campaign across multiple channels where they will be directed to the site Walmart.com/LiveBetterTomorrow.”
27 September 2021: BRC to host Climate Action Week
Trade body the British Retail Consortium (BRC) is hosting the BRC Climate Action Week between 25-29 October.
A series of digital events will showcase initiatives and good practices being undertaken by UK retailers on the journey towards net-zero carbon emissions.
Each day, the event will provide practical advice and guidance to the industry.
24 September 2021: Currys PC World raises awareness of e-waste by setting Guinness World Record
Electricals retailer Currys PC World has set a new Guinness World Record for the largest pyramid of washing machines ever recorded.
Built during National Recycling Week, the pyramid of 1,490 washing machines is estimated to be the equivalent of 104.3 tonnes of WEEE recycling.
The aim of the initiative was to raise awareness of e-waste and to highlight that consumers have multiple options to recycle their no-longer-needed electricals.
Dubbed the ‘New Life Not Landfill’ world record attempt, the concept was the brainchild of Currys PC World Bolton store manager, Darren Kenworthy.
Chris Brown, senior sustainability manager at Currys PC World, commented: “Given e-waste in the UK is a growing problem, as the UK’s largest electrical retailer, it’s imperative that we support our customers to ensure they are disposing of household appliances and tech in a safe and responsible way.
“We also want to make the most of goods that could be repaired and even re-homed, rather than just throwing them in household bins by default.”
He added: “We hope that this new life not landfill world record installation strikes a nerve with Brits and help them to realise that recycling their technology is easy and also affordable. Using recycle points, e-waste collection, used exchange platforms and drop off points in our stores will give your old items a new life rather than them ending in landfill.”
23 September 2021: Glasgow’s St Enoch Centre’s green efforts recognised
St Enoch Centre, a Glasgow city centre retail, food & drink, and entertainment site, will receive an International Green Apple Award for 2021 in recognition of its eco-friendly efforts.
As a result, the site will be bestowed ‘Green World Ambassador’ status at a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament in London on 15 November 2021.
Anne Ledgerwood, St Enoch general manager, said: “Our team works hard to counteract the centre’s environmental impact by continuously adopting innovative waste management processes and leading the way for shopping centres.”
The Green Apple Environment Awards are run by The Green Organisation – an international, independent, non-profit, non-political environment group that promotes environmental best practice around the world.
St Enoch’s award comes after it increased the volume of waste and recycling captured to divert tonnage away from landfill, and it improved food waste segregation to reduce what was thrown away and lower emissions while creating renewable electricity, heat and compost.
It has also been involved in several local eco projects and offered ‘green’ training and engagement programmes for its staff.
22 September 2021: Flooring Superstore updates on sustainability strategy
Flooring Superstore said today it has planted more than 3.5 million trees and removed over one million plastic bottles from the sea during the last year.
Since August 2020, the retailer has committed to planting one tree for every sq m of flooring it sells. Elsewhere, it has partnered with the Reforestation Project, Rainforest Trust UK and ReSea Project to help protect rainforests and oceans around the world.
Dan Foskett, CEO of Flooring Superstore, said: “We’re on a journey to be more than just a carbon neutral company.
“At Flooring Superstore, we’re committed to positive actions that make a real difference. Part of this has seen our sustainability partnerships with key organisations to contribute to reducing our carbon footprint and issues relating to global warming by planting trees, cleaning up oceans, protecting habitats and supporting communities.”
He added that the aim is for the majority of the retailer’s products to be made from recycled materials – as well as be fully recyclable – within the next ten years.
21 September 2021: Asda opens first refill concept store in Scotland
Asda has introduced its first refill store in Scotland featuring a range of branded and own-brand products sold in loose format as part of its efforts to drive down plastic usage.
The supermarket has partnered with Kellogg’s, Napolina, Yorkshire Tea, Unilever and others to introduce more than 60 products sold loose and unpackaged within specific aisles of its Toryglen store in Glasgow.
Customers can use their own containers to buy unpackaged products such as pasta, rice, tea, coffee and cereals or alternatively buy a reusable container in store and use this on an ongoing basis. All unpackaged products will be the same price or cheaper than their packaged equivalents.
The launch of the Toryglen refill store is part of Asda’s strategy to remove three billion pieces of single use plastic from its business by 2025 and follows the launch of its first refill store in Leeds, last October.
Susan Thomas, director of commercial sustainability at Asda, commented: “We have chosen Scotland as the location for our second refill store because it is an important market for Asda and a place where we regularly receive constructive feedback from our customers.
“This feedback is very important to us as we refine our refill offering in stores and work towards a goal of making refill and reuse part of every shopping trip.”
Thomas added: “With COP26 coming to Glasgow, there has certainly been an increase in interest in environmental issues across the country, so to see refill land in the host city and with such engaged customers is a really important moment for us.”
Asda’s refill proposition will appear in its Milton Keynes and York stores by the end of the year.
20 September 2021: Retailers among 86 new The Climate Pledge signatories
Amazon and Global Optimism announced today that 86 new signatories have recently joined The Climate Pledge.
Among them are retailers and brands, including Nespresso, Asos, Procter & Gamble, and Selfridges.
The announcement means more than 201 companies and organisations from around the world have now pledged to meet the Paris Agreement’s goals ten years early – and achieve net-zero carbon by 2040.
17 September 2021: Boots rolls out in-store recycling scheme to 700 shops
Following a 50-store trial, health and beauty retailer Boots is set to roll out the ‘Recycle at Boots’ scheme to a further 650 stores up and down the UK.
Boots said customers have dropped off over half a million products since the initiative launched last year.
Customers will continue to get rewarded for recycling, according to the retailer – for every five products deposited they will receive a voucher for 250 Boots Advantage Card points (worth £2.50) to use in-store or online.
Boots revealed the top three recycled products so far are toothpaste, mascara and hand wash – with Colgate, No7 and Boots the most recycled brands to date.
MyGroup’s Reworked fascia and Scan2Recycle are the key Boots partners for this scheme.
14 September 2021: Waitrose makes online deliveries and collections bagless
From 27 September, all new Waitrose.com deliveries and in-store collections will be “bagless” – a move the grocer said will eliminate an estimated 40 million plastic bags per year.
The move will coincide with the reinstatement of into-home deliveries, with drivers once again able to assist customers with heavy lifting and unpacking following pandemic-related restrictions.
Waitrose said its customers can also choose to bring their shopping into the home on crates provided or request assistance from the driver to transfer it into their own bags at the doorstep.
The supermarket chain, which is part of the John Lewis Partnership, will also remove 10p ‘bags for life’ from all of its core stores, citing “extensive research” showing that these have increasingly become single-use items.
A new reusable alternative will be available, which Waitrose said is twice as durable, made from recycled materials and fully recyclable. At 50p, it will become the entry level bag in the wider reusable bags collection.
James Bailey, executive director of Waitrose, said: “We’ve long pledged to reduce single-use plastics, so we have a clear obligation to remove our bags for life because they are no longer being reused as originally intended.”
13 September 2021: Mash Direct introduces eco labelling on packaging
Food brand Mash Direct has partnered with non-profit organisation, Foundation Earth, to launch ecological label packaging.
The new scheme aims to give customers a better view on the product’s environmental footprint and overall lifecycle.
On the packaging is a traffic light system of how ecologically sustainable the product, giving an overall ‘grade’ to provide shoppers with an “at-a-glance score”, according to Mash Direct.
The Foundation Earth product grading scores will initially be shown on five Mash Direct products, but the rest of the range is expected to be labelled this way next year. Other retailers and brands involved in the food industry are trialling these labels, and representatives from these companies are part of an advisory group which is exploring the potential impact of such a move.
Jack Hamilton, Mash Direct CEO, said: “Introducing the Foundation Earth scoring system packaging is a hugely important step in our commitment to providing full transparency to our customers and increasing our brand’s sustainability.”
Cliona Howie, Foundation Earth CEO, added: “It’s motivating to work alongside forward-thinking brands like Mash Direct who are one of the first to deliver our front-of-pack ‘Eco Impact’ scores allowing consumers to quickly and simply understand the impact linked to their food choices.
“Momentum is building quicky, and scores will start appearing on products from more companies soon.”
10 September 2021: Vestiaire Collective gains B Corp status
Vestiaire Collective, which works with several luxury brands to resell their customers’ pre-loved items, has become a B Corp organisation.
“We’re proud that we’re the world’s first B Corp fashion resale platform,” the company said in a statement.
“It’s a huge step in our ongoing mission to transform the fashion industry, and we want the whole fashion ecosystem to join us. B Corp is a demanding certification that evaluates our social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability, involving over 300 questions about everything we do – from our team’s working conditions to our carbon footprint.”
9 September 2021: Sainsbury’s wants to help consumers recycle coffee pods
Sainsbury’s has teamed up with coffee pod manufacturer, Dualit, and On-Pack Recycling Label (OPRL) to increase awareness about recycling aluminium coffee pods.
The grocer said it is widely believed these pods are too small to be recycled and need to be recycled via specialist collection schemes – but it argued this is not the case, as long as the pods are clean from coffee.
Sainsbury’s has now labelled its own brand aluminium coffee pods as recyclable, making it clear the items need rinsing before being placed it in the recycling bin.
From November, the Dualit EcoPress will be available to buy at Sainsbury’s stores or online, helping consumers separate and remove coffee from the aluminium if they don’t want to do it manually.
Claire Hughes, director of product & innovation at Sainsbury’s, said “many aluminium pods are in fact recyclable”.
On the new Sainsbury’s initiative, she added: “We hope others follow suit and change their packaging to raise awareness and encourage recycling.”
6 September 2021: Holland & Barrett bans sales of single-use beauty sheets
From today, health and wellness products retailer Holland & Barrett has banned the sale of single-use beauty sheets masks across its stores and online properties, “in the hope of encouraging our customers to switch to more sustainable alternatives”.
The retailer has also partnered with charity Ocean Generation, which campaigns for a reduction in plastic waste across the world’s oceans, and will donate 5% of profit from the sale of multi-use sheet masks to the organisation’s cause.
3 September 2021: Co-op calls for businesses to do more to tackle climate crisis
Co-op has urged the business community to do more to help tackle the climate crisis.
It has published a report called Climate Justice for People and Planet, which underlines its commitment to help its suppliers – many of which are the first to feel the impact of the global climate crisis.
Co-op invests 0.7% of its pre-tax profit to help suppliers with issues related to climate change.
Co-op Food CEO Jo Whitfield said: “Our Co-op vision, ‘Co-operating for a fairer world’, recognises that we are stronger and more effective when we work together.
“To create real, impactful change, we need to co-operate to protect our most vulnerable communities against climate change. So, as well as calling on government to reinstate its world leading 0.7% commitment, I must also challenge my fellow business leaders: if we step forward and stand together, what more can we do?”
2 September 2021: Allbirds files for IPO
Allbirds, a footwear brand focused on producing environmentally-friendly products, has filed for an initial public offering (IPO).
The company plans to list on the Nasdaq under the ticker “BIRD”, and has set a target to raise $100 million from the IPO.