Highlighting retailers’ efforts to be greener. Featuring announcements about products, strategies, and new eco-commitments from Amazon, Clarks, Starbucks and many more
March/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 February. Below are some examples of greener retailing we’ve seen over the last two months:
19 April 2022: Childrenswear brand Five of Us raises awareness of fashion’s landfill problem
Childrenswear brand Five of Us has created a visualised interactive page ahead of Earth Day (22 April), demonstrating how much the fashion industry contributes to landfill each year.
The interactive page compares the volume of clothing in landfill to some of the world’s most well-known landmarks. It comes as some researchers are estimating that 64% of the 32 billion garments produced each year end up in landfill.
Five of Us highlighted research that suggests the gross amount of waste is due in part to the 94 million kg worth of single-use outfits bought every year and partially due to the 50% of people who throw unwanted clothing in the bin instead of reselling or re-purposing it.
Queralt Ferrer, former fashion director at Massimo Dutti and Marks & Spencer, and founder of Five of Us, said: “We don’t pretend to have the solution to the problem that is sustainability in the fashion industry, but we do believe that our “made to order” model is one responsible step in the right direction to reduce the problem of overproduction.
“While the fashion industry as a whole contributes more than a trillion dollars’ worth of waste to landfill every year, we rarely talk about how children’s fashion contributes to this. I think one of the key areas missing in sustainability in fashion conversation is educating the next generation on how to shop and consume with sustainability in mind.”
14 April 2022: OnePlanetCapital targets GoThrift and Adaptavate
Sustainable investment house OnePlanetCapital has targeted two new investments in green-thinking companies, GoThrift and Adaptavate.
As part of a mission to support the next generation of start-ups making positive contributions in the battle against climate change, the investments mark the latest companies the flagship OnePlanetCapital Climate Change EIS fund has deployed financing into.
The fund only targets investments that will make a real impact on climate change as they scale, according to OnePlanetCapital.
GoThrift sells used and second-hand clothing, while Adaptavate produces a range of carbon negative products for the construction industry.
12 April 2022: IGD report calls for UK packaging strategy revamp
Business as usual will not deliver a shared industry ambition of halving the environmental impact of UK packaging system by 2030, according to grocery training and research group IGD’s latest report.
A shift in focus from plastics to all packaging materials is needed, says the publication, which argues there is a need for a 20% reduction in the amount of packaging on the market. The report identifies three key levers to change: remove packaging; increase recycled content; and decarbonise existing supply chains.
Susan Barratt, CEO at IGD, said: “Creating sustainable packaging systems is a critical issue.
“Last year, we brought together stakeholders to form a working group to create our shared industry ambition. Recent events have thrown the context of this work sharply into focus, with unprecedented challenges around commodity inflation and supply affecting businesses and consumers alike.”
She added: “This has led to a significant reappraisal of packaging strategy and sourcing decisions. Our challenge is to find solutions to future packaging systems that can help consumers do their bit for the planet and also keep their costs down.”
11 April 2022: Retail tech company teams up with BHF to find new homes for pre-loved tech
Peak Technologies, a company that provides digital supply chain, mobile workforce and other tech for the retail industry, has started a new initiative to collect pre-loved technology from its clients and find new homes for the items.
Targeting its retail and other business sector clients, Peak said that rugged handheld computers, tablets and other mobile devices donated will be refurbished and then resold via the British Heart Foundation’s (BHF) eBay store.
For every mobile handset supplied to BHF, Peak Technologies will ensure a tree is planted on the customer’s behalf.
Karen O’Donoghue, head of retail partnerships at BHF, said: “Not only does it support the donation of tonnes of electronic waste for reuse and create a sustainable business model for a circular economy, but it will also help us at the BHF fund vital scientific breakthroughs that will help save lives.”
René Schrama, UK managing director at Peak, added: “Whether your passion is refreshing your tech, recycling or funding vital medical research, our expertise can expedite your net zero strategy.”
5 April 2022: Weird Fish combines campaign shoot with beach clean
UK fashion retailer Weird Fish combined its latest summer campaign photoshoot with a dedicated beach clean in Costa Rica.
In partnership with 5 Minute Foundation, a team of seven people – including Weird Fish’s models and make-up artist – took part in the clean-up in Santa Teresa, where the brand’s latest collection was shot.
Naomi Hedicker, brand communication manager at Weird Fish, said: “Costa Rica is known for its eco-tourism and being a global leader in sustainability, so we believed it to be the perfect setting for our latest collection.
“Beaches feature so heavily in our campaign imagery and as part of our commitment to sustainability, we wanted to give something back by helping to clean up the beach we were shooting on.”
She added: “The 5 Minute Foundation does fantastic work with businesses and individuals across Costa Rica, so we were delighted to take part in one of their dedicated beach cleans. We don’t claim to be 100% sustainable at Weird Fish, but believe we have a responsibility as a business to make changes and contributions to help combat climate change.”
31 March 2022: Amazon ditches plastic delivery bags
Online retail titan Amazon has announced it has stopped packing products in single-use plastic delivery bags, and it will be using recyclable paper and card envelopes and packaging in its own distribution network in the UK.
“We have made changes in our supply network that enable us to remove single-use plastic delivery bags in the UK,” said John Boumphrey, UK country manager at Amazon.
“Customers are already receiving more deliveries in easily recyclable paper and cardboard, and we will keep innovating and finding ways to use more sustainable packaging.”
30 March 2022: Clarks says OtailO helps reduce returns waste
Footwear retailer Clarks said today that a partnership with the start-up tech firm, OtailO, has helped the company boost customer experience (CX) and reduce returns waste.
OtailO’s online product returns solution is being used by Clarks in the UK, and plans are afoot to incorporate the tech into its US operations.
Clarks uses OtailO’s inspection mechanism to streamline specific return scenarios. This inspection enables Clarks to assess the condition of the return while it is still in the consumer’s hands, and to take actions accordingly. It said that this process enables more efficient business decisions and returns routing.
OtailO’s has also helped Clarks remove pre-printed labels in its online orders, and the retailer intends to remove all paperwork by the end of the year as part of a wider greener push.
Victor Bayata, director of CX, retail & digital at Clarks, said: “Not only is OtailO helping us reduce costs and increase revenues by cutting our reverse logistics overheads, it’s also reducing wastage and carbon emissions.
“Using OtailO’s customer-friendly technology we’re simplifying our supply chain, and the inspection functionality has reduced ineligible returns, eliminating unnecessary reverse logistics, meaning there is less of a carbon footprint.”
Ronit Mayer, CEO of OtailO, added: “Given the pressures our climate and natural resources are under, it’s vital that we do everything we can to reduce the carbon footprint of our logistics supply chains and ensure goods are reused, rather than end up in landfill.”
29 March 2022: Tesco puts electric vehicle charging in 500 UK stores
Tesco has added a 500th store to its electric vehicle charging network.
Free charging sessions on the network have increased from 500,000 in April 2021 to more than two million by the end of February, as more and more people combine a trip to the shops with an electric power top-up.
Tesco said since it teamed up with Volkswagen and Pod Point launched the network in 2019, the charging points have provided more than 41 million miles of free electric driving to motorists.
The 500th charging location was opened at the Tesco Extra store in Inverness. Other areas to have received the e-charging facilities include Southend-on-Sea, Bolton, Wirral, Walsall and Port Talbot.
28 March 2022: Farfetch calls for sustainability start-ups
Online luxury fashion marketplace and tech company Farfetch has announced its annual Call for Start-ups programme – with sustainability a key focus area in 2022.
It described the Call for Start-ups initiative as “an amazing opportunity for start-ups to showcase their innovative solutions to top experts and stakeholders at Farfetch”.
They can pilot their technology and build successful partnerships with Farfetch Group, if they prove themselves.
In 2021, Farfetch partnered with more than 30 tech start-ups, launching experiences such as virtual try-on and digital style advisor services.
This year, Farfetch is seeking incorporated companies with funding, those that are post-MVP stage, and firms that have already demonstrated validation of their product. It must have business-to-business capabilities, and the focus areas are, as follows:
- Digital fashion
- Size and Fit
- Beauty Tech
- Social Commerce
Applications close on 31 March.
23 March 2022: Mr Porter partners with Reflaunt for clothing resell service
Luxury retailer Mr Porter has partnered with Reflaunt to help its customers resell with their items rather than see old products end up in landfill.
Consumers list the items they want to sell, and once they have sold, they choose to receive payment as cash – or as Mr Porter credit with an extra 10% added.
22 March 2022: Starbucks outlines efforts to reduce waste and support electric vehicle usage
Coffee chain Starbucks has announced several greener initiatives aimed at reducing the company’s impact on the environment.
It is launching a Starbucks Partner Waste and Recycling App, developed by its staff as part of its internal ‘Greener Stores Innovation Challenge’, to help the business navigate complex and unique store recycling guidelines.
The app pools information partners need to know relating to waste reduction and recycling, with store-specific information and notifications, a sorting guide and the option to create store-specific signage for partners and customers.
Michael Kobori, chief sustainability officer at Starbucks, said: “Starbucks is spending this year testing innovative new ways to reduce waste and reduce our carbon footprint.
“Some of our best innovations, like the Waste and Recycling App, come directly from our store partners. Our store partners know their customers and communities best. When we work together with our partners, we find better solutions to create a more sustainable future for our planet and people.”
Starbucks is also shifting away from single-use plastics and piloting reusable cup programmes in six markets around the world. By the end of 2023, it says customers will be able to use their own personal reusable cup for every Starbucks visit in the US and Canada – including in café, drive-thru and mobile order and pay formats.
In addition, Starbucks has started a new pilot programme with Volvo Cars to electrify the driving route from the Colorado Rockies to the Starbucks Support Centre in Seattle, providing “a string of familiar, reliable, clean and safe places for staff to recharge themselves and their battery-powered vehicles”.
By the end of 2022, Volvo-branded electric vehicle chargers, powered by ChargePoint, will be available at up to 15 Starbucks stores along a 1,350-mile route from the Denver area to the coffee company’s Seattle headquarters.
21 March 2022: Behind the scenes at Target’s ‘greenest’ store
US retailer Target’s store in Vista, California, is being touted by the business as its greenest store yet.
The store will generate more renewable energy than needed each year to power its operations, according to the retailer, which says it is Target’s first net zero energy store.
Overall, the ambition is for the business to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, and the new shop serves as a testing site for sustainability-minded innovations that can inform future store designs as it moves towards that goal.
18 March 2022: Currys announces ‘Long Live Your Tech’ initiative
Electricals retailer Currys has used today, Global Recycling Day, to announce a ‘Long Live Yor Tech’ commitment.
In recognition that tech products are often discarded and replaced within a few years of purchase, creating e-waste that could go on to have a longer life, the retailer aims to encourage consumers to more seriously consider the sustainability credentials of any new or upgraded purchase they make and also how they dispose of old electronics.
Currys is running several initiatives, including participating in Waste Week by rewarding people for bringing old tech into its stores for recycling.
Lindsey Haselhurst, chief supply chain officer at Currys, said: “At Currys we recognise the pressing need to improve our use of resources and create circular business models, which is why we are a leader in extending the life of technology through our repair, recycling and reuse programmes.
“The UK is heading into an e-waste perfect storm with tech playing an increasingly important role in our everyday lives, yet consumers are struggling to understand how to dispose of it responsibly. And while there is a lot of noise when it comes to our plastic usage, our consumption of fast fashion and our approach to food waste; tech, despite being so integral to how we live – keeping us fed, entertained and connected – is often forgotten about.”
She added: “As the UK’s largest tech retailer, helping our customers enjoy their technology means, as well as assisting them in choosing shiny new amazing tech, we must support them in giving a longer life to the tech they already have. By bringing together and extending our sustainability programmes under our ‘Long Live Your Tech’ commitment, Currys is making the recycling, repairing and rehoming unwanted tech so much easier for those customers who want to do the right thing when it comes to e-waste but don’t know where to start.”
17 March 2022: Vestiaire Collective acquires US fashion resale player Tradesy
Online luxury fashion resale marketplace Vestiaire Collective has acquired US-based Tradesy.
Vestiaire called Tradesy “the US pioneer in fashion resale”. Like Vestiaire, the company was founded in 2009 by women entrepreneurs with a vision to make the fashion industry more sustainable.
“Today’s announcement reflects our shared ambition to further accelerate the growth of the circular fashion economy by delivering a world-class customer experience to buyer and sellers across the globe,” announced Vestiaire.
Maximilian Bittner, CEO of Vestiaire, and Fanny Moizant, founder & president of Vestiaire, will continue to serve in those roles for the combined company. Tracy DiNunzio, founder & CEO of Tradesy, will become CEO of the combined US operations.
The terms of the deal are undisclosed.
16 March 2022: Waitrose and M&S retain Tier 1 positions in farm animal welfare report
The tenth annual Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) report was launched today, showing UK retailers Waitrose and Marks & Spencer retaining their Tier 1 positions for the 8th and 9th consecutive years, respectively, alongside manufacturers Noble Foods and Premier Foods.
The report revealed that while companies in general continue to invest in farm animal welfare, they are too slow in delivering meaningful welfare improvements for animals on the ground.
BBFAW is supported by founding partner, Compassion in World Farming, and supporting partner, FOUR PAWS, and is designed to help drive higher farm animal welfare standards in the world’s leading food businesses and provide a benchmark to inform investor choices.
The 2021 report analysed 150 global food companies, including 53 retailers and wholesalers, 62 producers and manufacturers and 35 restaurants and bars. Tesco, Sainsbury, Morrisons, Co-op UK, and Greggs all perform well, according to the report.
Nicky Amos, executive director of the BBFAW and managing director of Chronos Sustainability, said: “The BBFAW set out in 2012 to put farm animal welfare on the business and investor agenda, and to significantly advance corporate management practice and disclosure on the issue.
“Ten years on, these objectives have been realised. Today, around 80% of the 150 companies assessed by BBFAW have strengthened their governance of farm animal welfare through formal policy commitments, objectives, and targets. While this provides a strong foundation for action, companies need to demonstrate that their investments in farm animal welfare are delivering positive welfare impacts for animals on the ground.”
15 March 2022: AO’s Volution recycling partnership continues apace
Online electricals retailer AO is strengthening its relationship with ventilation products provider Volution Group.
The retailer’s recycling facilities are now providing two different forms of recycled plastic to be used by Volution to create sustainable ventilation systems.
Over the last year, AO has supplied Volution with recycled high impact polystyrene (HIPS) from approximately 63,000 recycled fridges, which are collected from customers’ homes as part of the retailer’s old-product-take-away service.
From now, the retailer will also be providing recycled acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). The recycled ABS will be used to produce a range of parts including the fan chassis of the ventilation and components, with the HIPS continuing in the manufacture of the ducting accessories.
Rob Sant, managing director of AO Recycling, said: “AO want to take responsibility for the entire recycling process, from start to finish, and we’re proud to be producing high quality recycled plastic that can be easily used in new long-life products.”
Lee Nurse, business development director at Volution, added: “Our procurement teams continue to drive our ambition for 90% of the plastic within our facilities to come from recycled sources, and even with the complexities of the global supply chain situation, we are still making great progress towards that goal.”
14 March 2022: Outdoor Retailer Climate Commitment adds new members
The Outdoor Retailer Climate Commitment has added some new members.
Founded last summer by Bergfreunde, Bergzeit, Internetstores, Sportler and Yonderland – and covered on the pages of Green Retail World at the time – the commitment has now added Sport Schuster, Sport Conrad, engelhorn, and SportPursuit.
Melanie Gruenwald, head of sustainability at Yonderland, said on LinkedIn: “With its commitment to climate protection, the open network assumes a pioneering role in the European retail landscape.
“In autumn 2021, the initiators committed to measuring their CO2 footprint based on the Greenhouse Gas Protocol Corporate Accounting and Reporting Standard, setting targets for reducing their emissions (e.g. using the Science Based Targets initiative or equivalent targets), to take action to achieve these climate protection targets, and to submit a short progress report each year that is made publicly available.”
11 March 2022: PÄRLA runs ‘Don’t Squeeze the Planet’ campaign
From today till 22 April, which is Earth Day, dental hygiene brand PÄRLA will run a campaign called ‘Don’t Squeeze the Planet’, aiming to encourage people to recycle old toothpaste tubes.
Consumers will be able to drop the tubes in one of PÄRLA’s amnesty bins at dental practices across the UK. In exchange, they will get a voucher for a discount off PÄRLA at Sainsbury’s.
PÄRLA – which sells toothpaste in tablet form in recyclable and reusable glass jars – has said it will also donate to Less Plastic UK every time its product is purchased from Sainsbury’s.
Co-founder Simon Chard, who Green Retail World spoke to last month, said of the collected toothpaste tubes: “We will be taking all of these old toothpaste tubes and turning them into something useful and beautiful!”
10 March 2022: Dunelm becomes member of Aldersgate Group
Furniture retailer Dunelm has announced its membership of the Aldersgate Group, an organisation which gathers together like-minded businesses to move towards a more sustainable economy.
Other retailer members include Tesco, Co-op, and Ikea.
10 March 2022: Wine packager The Park starts using all-electric HGV for deliveries
The Park, a wine packaging company that works with several UK supermarket chains, has this week launched an all-electric HGV to deliver wine across the UK.
Richard Lloyd, general manager at The Park, said: “At The Park, driving sustainability forward is at the core of our business.
“We lead the way in sustainable innovation in the wine industry and by further reducing our carbon footprint by introducing an electric HGV, we hope The Park will be a catalyst for change not just within the wine industry, but for all industries nationwide.”
The Park also said it is making moves to be the first wine packaging and distribution company to send a shipping pallet with no stretch wrap, a plastic film commonly used on pallets.
9 March 2022: The nu company launches eco product ahead of World Earth Day
It is World Earth Day on 22 April, and brands are already lining up their messaging and strategy accordingly.
Germany-based food brand The nu company has brought its nucao product to several UK retailers – including Sainsbury’s, Holland & Barrett and Planet Organic – and for every bar sold or sampled, the company will plant a tree. It has planted over ten million trees to date, in partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects.
The brand’s aim is to plant one billion trees by 2030.
The nu company lists the following as highlighting its sustainability credentials:
- The nucao product is made with cacao from a Control Union-certified Peruvian farmers’ cooperative, which ensures the ingredients are fairly-grown by companies committed to sustainable development and improvement of social conditions
- The product is 100% organic, vegan and natural
- nucao’s products are wrapped in specially-developed, plastic-free, home-compostable packaging
- nucao uses only natural coconut blossom sugar
Co-founder Christian Fenner said: “The nu company is the social food brand from Germany that is transforming the way people eat and bringing sustainable change to the food industry.
“Every element in our sourcing and production process has been carefully considered to make it as environmentally-conscious as we possibly can. We want the whole world to know that climate-positive snacking is the way forward.”
8 March 2022: BRC and Pets at Home chat about the scope three emissions challenge
As part of its work on helping guide retailers towards more environmentally-friendly practices, the British Retail Consortium ran a webinar on the challenges around reducing scope three emissions.
Pets at Home joined the discussion. Retailers can download the conversation here.
5 March 2022: Amazon Aware range hits the market
Amazon has launched a range of fashion, home, beauty and household essentials that it says are made more sustainably.
Dubbed Amazon Aware, the brand is available to buy in the US, Canada and Europe,a nd products include dresses, T-shirts, and tank tops; bedding and towels; and skincare products.
Amazon said all goods in the collection meet standards such as those established by the Higg Index, the Organic Content Standard 100 or the Global Recycle Standard.
Amazon private brands vice president, Matt Taddy, commented: “We are committed to creating programmes that contribute toward a more sustainable future.”
2 March 2022: Bird Bike launches in UK with Halfords
US e-bike company Bird Global is now available in the UK – via the UK’s largest cycling retailer, Halfords, and the partnership’s accompanying website, birdbike.co.uk.
According to the brand, the arrival of Bird Bike “taps into a zeitgeist moment for e-bikes in the UK”, with growing numbers of consumers buying them as part of healthier and more environmentally-friendly lifestyles.
Brian Buccella, senior vice president, government partnerships & consumer products at Bird, said: “The UK is investing heavily in its cycling infrastructure and people are now looking to micro-electric vehicles to replace their petrol-powered trips.”
1 March 2022: Zalando says parcels and packaging improvements form part of 2022 plans
As part of a positive trading update for 2021, online marketplace Zalando has revealed it made progress towards becoming a more sustainable fashion platform.
It said brand, logistic and packaging partners have joined Zalando in setting science-based targets, covering 51% of supplier-related emissions. Sales of its “sustainability” assortment – which now totals 140,000 products compared to around 80,000 a year earlier – accounted for 21.6% of the company’s gross merchandise value. That was up from 16% in 2020.
Zalando said 2022 priorities are optimising packaging, reducing empty space in parcels, minimising packaging waste and completing the transition of plastic to paper shipping bags.
David Schneider, Co-CEO at Zalando, commented: ”As we grow as a company we want to use our strong position to drive positive change in the fashion industry.
“In 2022 we will work even harder to achieve our sustainability objectives and help customers make choices that reflect their values.”
[Image credit: Green Retail World]