Greener retail

November 2021

Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from Raeburn, Mulberry, VOXI by Vodafone and many more.


November 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 October. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen this month:


30 November 2021: Currys joins Circular Electronics Partnership

Electricals retailer Currys has joined the Circular Electronics Partnership, which aims to encourage businesses and consumers to maximise the value of technology throughout its lifecycle.

The retailer’s CEO, Alex Baldock, said: “We’ll use our scale and expertise to help drive industry action that will help everyone enjoy amazing technology.”


26 November 2021: Raeburn disables online shop for Black Friday

Consumers cannot buy anything new from fashion brand Raeburn today.

The company has disabled its online shop, preventing anyone purchasing a new product, while the Raeburn Marshall Street store in London has been taken over by second-hand clothing platform, Responsible.

Visitors to the website can add a new item to their online wish-list – but payment cannot be taken.

Raeburn is selling a selection of so-called ‘second-life’ pieces in-store over the course of the weekend, as it highlights the need for more sustainable shopping practices at what is typically one of the busiest and chaotic spending periods of the year.

The business says it is “promoting circularity by celebrating clothes already in circulation”.

Consumers can also trade in their own clothing items for in-store credit and special discounts through Responsible’s Buy Back scheme.

Read about other Green Friday-style initiatives on Green Retail World


24 November 2021: Interface and Greenstream talk up floor tile recycling partnership

Flooring manufacturer Interface has been working with Greenstream Flooring to keep floor tiles out of landfill.

Ellen Petts, the founder of not-for-profit organisation Greenstream, supports Interface’s ReEntry scheme by taking carpet tiles that have been replaced and giving them a new life in spaces such as housing associations and education facilities.

Petts said: “Rehoming and repurposing floor coverings is the foundation of our business – but it’s about much more than just diverting carpet tiles out of landfill.

“As well as educating others of the benefits of a circular economy for the future of our planet, we are achieving positive social impact across communities.”

Over a 12-year period Greenstream has saved more than 634,000 sq m of carpet from landfill, according to the charity.

Becky Gordon, regional sustainability manager at Interface, said: “We have to take action now if we’re going to have a chance at reversing the impacts of climate change.

“Giving materials a second life and striving towards a circular economy is a key part of this journey – and this is why we established our ReEntry programme. We’re proud of the strong partnership we’ve built with Greenstream over the last 12 years and this has enabled us to develop a transparent, sustainable and ethical end of life route for our flooring.”


23 November 2021: VOXI by Vodafone in Cool Earth partnership

Mobile virtual network operator VOXI by Vodafone has announced it is partnering with rainforest charity, Cool Earth, as part of its greener business commitments.

VOXI’s reward scheme, VOXI Drop, will donate over £60,000 to Cool Earth, to be spent on a variety of projects supporting biodiversity, people and trees. VOXI customers will be asked to choose from several projects they would like a donation to be directed on their behalf.

In addition, VOXI has launched a range of refurbished mobile phones, helping to extend the life of devices and increase its efforts around circularity.

Cool Earth works alongside rainforest communities to halt deforestation.  It works in countries such as Peru, Papua New Guinea, Mozambique, Cambodia and Cameroon.


22 November 2021: Mulberry launches ‘sustainable’ bag collection alongside Muirhead

Luxury brand Mulberry has announced a new more sustainable collection of bags in partnership with tannery Muirhead, which is a member of the Scottish Leather Group.

In line with Mulberry’s Made to Last Manifesto, announced earlier this year, the collection is created in the UK with what the company described as “a pioneering hyper-local, hyper-transparent ‘farm to finished product’ supply chain model, marking a bold commitment to transparency and traceability”.

It noted that all the raw hides for this collection were sourced from within the UK and Ireland, tanned, treated and finished by Muirhead at its leather production site 15 miles outside of Glasgow. Mulberry said its Somerset factories, where each bag in the collection is made, are carbon neutral.

According to Mulberry, the partnership with Muirhead represents the future of its brand, as it focuses on following a more regenerative and circular model throughout its supply chain.

Nicholas Muirhead, managing director at Muirhead, said: “We are delighted to form a strategic partnership with global British brand Mulberry, to support their sustainable and responsible business goals.

“Muirhead developed the lowest carbon soft and supple leather for the fashion industry to reduce carbon intensity even in the high luxury segment.”


18 November 2021: Scottish deposit return scheme delayed again

The introduction of the drinks packaging deposit return scheme (DRS) in Scotland has been delayed again.

Speaking in parliament this week, Lorna Slater, Scotland’s minister for green skill, circular economy & biodiversity, noted that the implementation date has been moved back from July 2022. It had originally been planned for April 2021.

The pandemic, and question marks around VAT were said to have prompted the further delay. A new date launch has not yet been announced.

Read more about the plans for a DRS in Scotland on Green Retail World


17 November 2021: Waitrose Leckford Estate will be ‘test bed for green farming innovation’

Waitrose executive director, James Bailey, has written to customers to explain how the farm on its Leckford Estate will become a test bed for sustainable farming and general innovation.

“Our farm on the Leckford Estate has long been a unique asset for the [John Lewis] Partnership, providing many products to our customers, including mushrooms, apples, pears, cider, sparkling wine, apple juice , cold-pressed rapeseed oil and flour,” Bailey wrote.

“And while this will continue, from today, it will have another equally important purpose. Over the next 15 years, we will use our farmland at Leckford and the full weight of our resources to facilitate radical change across our industry. Specifically, we will use a combination of research and practical application to identify the best farming techniques to help us manage this land in a way that is kinder to the environment.”

Read the full letter here…


16 November 2021: Ocado Retail claims ‘net zero’ head office status

Ocado Retail said its head office in Hatfield, Hertfordshire has reached ‘net zero’ carbon emissions status.

The supermarket group said its carbon dioxide removal agreement with Climeworks commits to permanently removing over 1,000 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere – which it indicated is the equivalent of what the business will emit over the next seven years at its HQ.

Climeworks’ direct air capture and storage technology means that the captured CO2 is “safely stored deep underground”, according to Ocado Retail.


15 November 2021: Asos publishes Circular Design Guidebook

This week saw the release of the Asos Circular Design Guidebook, which has been launched in collaboration with the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF), London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London.

The 112-page interactive resource is built on Asos’s nine circular design strategies, developed through consultation with CSF and with input from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. It defines how these strategies can be applied in practice.

It includes information on zero-waste cutting guidance, and chapters on safe and recycled or renewable materials. The resource has been designed to support students, designers, brands and suppliers across the fashion sector in the move to more circular design.

Access the guidebook here 


10 November 2021: New Look gifts staff their own tree as part of offsetting drive

New Look’s new Tree Nation partnership, which was covered in this Green Retail World story last week, extends to the clothing retailer’s staff – with each colleague in the business designated their very own tree for planting.

That’s more than 10,000 trees in total, helping offset the organisation’s CO2 emissions.

Tree Nation’s conservation projects help restore woodlands, create jobs, support local communities and protect biodiversity.


9 November 2021: Fat Face brings back ‘Mindful Wrapping’ for 2021 peak

Fat Face has brought back its ‘Mindful Wrapping’ for the 2021 festive season.

Its paper store bags double up as wrap, meaning customers can re-use the packaging to wrap gifts they may have purchased for friends and family.

Each bag features a different print pattern, all designed by the retailer’s in-house design team and overseen by senior creative lead, Craig Eves. The smallest bag doubles up as a gift bag this festive season.

Consumers can also scan the bag with their smartphone to learn how to write using stylish calligraphy.

Fat Face and several other retailers are deploying tactics like this to reduce the amount of single-use packaging across their operations.


8 November 2021: Endura planting trees around the world

Cycling clothing and accessories brand Endura has planted more than two million trees as part of global plans to offset its carbon output and become “carbon negative” by 2024.

Last year the Pentland Brands company launched the ‘Million Trees’ project, and the retailer’s planting partners in Africa have now planted more than two million trees in an area of degraded mangrove forest in Maputo Bay, Mozambique. Endura wants to plant one million trees for the next ten years as part of the initiative.

Endura said it has also planted 85,000 trees in Scotland, creating new woodland near to Drymen in Stirlingshire on what it described as “poor quality pastureland with minimal agricultural value”.

A mix of native species, such as birch, which experts confirmed are suited to the ground condition and climate of the site, have been selected for the area. Endura promised the new woodland will be managed to boost biodiversity and is protected against commercial forestry.

Pamela Barclay, Endura’s brand director and co-founder, said “we’re now at a critical point in our collective response to the climate crisis”.

“Governments need to take bold steps, organisations need to act without being directed and we, as individuals, need to make changes too,” she explained.

“If this doesn’t happen and happen quickly then the future looks increasingly grim for the planet and its inhabitants. We, as a company, will continue to make changes across our operations in order to reduce both our CO2 and overall environmental footprint.”


5 November 2021: Iceland makes plastic clean-up commitment

Iceland Foods’ operations will be “plastic neutral” by 2022, according to managing director, Richard Walker.

“We must act to save our environment and ourselves from the scourge of plastics, and I urge all businesses to follow us towards plastic neutrality,” Walker tweeted this week.

The retailer is working with Seven Clean Seas, which works directly with businesses to pull plastic out of the ocean – effectively helping clear up mess the corporate world has contributed to.

Walker said a five-year bespoke programme is being put in place, with Iceland and Seven Clean Seas working with communities in countries with poor waste management processes.


4 November 2021: Retailers participate in COP26 climate summit

Retailers such as Ikea, H&M, Kingfisher, and Vivobarefoot are taking part in discussion about the climate crisis, as part of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

Green Retail World is highlighting the retail-specific events on its LinkedIn page, so follow the page to stay up to date…


3 November 2021: IGD research shows more changing diets due to eco concerns

Some 16% of consumers now list the environment as their main motivator for healthy and sustainable eating, according to grocery training and research group IGD, which says that is a “significant increase from 2020”.

The Appetite for Change research series from IGD shows UK consumers are increasingly looking to adopt more healthy and sustainable diets, with 58% open to changing their eating habits. The research, drawn from 1,368 UK consumers during July 2021, also found there has been a rise in people eating meat only twice a week or less – 39% compared to 34% in 2020.

IGD concludes consumers are becoming more aware of the sustainable issues surrounding food production and diets.

Mark Little, director of health & sustainability at IGD, said: “This shows the opportunity for food and drink companies to act now and help consumers turn positive new behaviours into long-term changes to their diets.

“Not only are consumers increasingly willing to change their eating habits for health reasons, but they are also starting to better understand the connection between their diets, the environment and how changing what they eat could impact their own health, as well as the planet’s health.”


2 November 2021: Depop certified ‘climate neutral’

Online marketplace Depop has been labelled ‘climate neutral’ by environmental certification group South Pole.

Becoming a climate-neutral company by the end of 2021 was a key milestone set out in the Etsy-owned business’s 2022 Sustainability Plan, and it means the business has offset all material sources of scope 1-3 greenhouse gas emissions.

Depop said it has been retroactively offsetting greenhouse gas emissions from shipping since January 2020 and has now expanded this to cover the rest of its material measured emissions, including its offices and utilities, IT equipment and cloud services, and employees’ travel and work from home activities.

The South Pole certificate for 2021 covers 100% of material scope 1-3 emissions during 2020.

Earlier this month, Depop became a member of the Tech Zero Taskforce – a group of tech companies of all sizes around the world who are committed to fighting the climate crisis. Tech Zero is an official partner to the United Nations ‘Race to Zero’ initiative and is backed by the UK government.

Justine Porterie, global head of sustainability at Depop, said: “We believe in setting ambitious goals and focusing our efforts on delivering results and iterating fast – so now that we’ve achieved this milestone, we will shift our focus towards net zero.”

According to South Pole, Depop compensated for all of its 2020 measured emissions by funding the Kariba Forest Protection project in Zimbabwe and the Dora-II Geothermal project in Turkey.


1 November 2021: John Lewis Partnership signs £420m five-year revolving credit facility linked to environmental targets

The John Lewis Partnership (JLP) has signed a new £420 million five-year revolving credit facility linked to environmental targets.

The facility is provided by seven banks, and the financing replaces existing facilities of £500 million, which are due to expire at the end of next year.

Under the terms of the new agreement, the interest rate JPL pays on the facility will vary depending on whether it achieves three environmental targets over five years related to reducing carbon emissions and food waste, and moving away from fossil fuels.

Bérangère Michel, executive director for finance at JLP, said: “It is critical for businesses to align financial strategy with sustainability goals in order to address climate change.

“I am pleased that the partnership is living up to its sustainability commitments and its purpose by making this very important step, ahead of the COP26 summit. This credit facility also reinforces the strong relationships we have with our banking partners, who continue to support the partnership and our plans for the years ahead.”

[Image credit: John Lewis Partnership]

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