UK retailers sign up to new targets for reducing environmental impact

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The UK retail industry is today (29 January 2014) signing up to a range of targets for reducing its impact on the environment, having beaten the previous set across all areas.

Commitments to be announced at today’s A Better Retailing Climate launch event include a collective pledge to reduce absolute carbon emissions by 25% by 2020, putting the industry well on course to meet the 80% overall target set by the UK Climate Change Bill.

The event at the House of Commons will also mark the launch of a new report, A Better Retailing Climate: Driving Resource Efficiency. The BRC said its A Better Retailing Climate initiative is midway through its journey, one that has already seen massive positive change. The new report sees BRC members committing to an ambitious and challenging environmental strategy – one designed to make a significant impact on the way goods are produced, sold and used in the home, said the BRC. The new set of targets and commitments demonstrates that the UK retail sector is innovative, forward thinking and a true global leader in this area. 

The report shows the 25 signatories, who represent half of UK retail by turnover, exceeded all their targets for reducing waste, energy and water usage up to 2013.  It also showcases what the industry is doing across a wide range of environmental areas including responsible sourcing, sustainable products and reducing water and energy usage.  

In a sector first, the supermarkets signed up to the initiative have also committed to publish their data on food waste created at the retail stage, along with annual progress reports. The signatories, which include all of the major grocery retailers, already provide data on waste in the supply chain to the resource efficiency body WRAP, and are working closely with customers to help reduce food waste in the home.

Other new targets announced today include a commitment to reducing emissions from refrigeration gases by 80% cent by 2020, and to divert less than 1% of waste to landfill by the same year.

British Retail Consortium director general, Helen Dickinson, said: “Retailers in the UK have made significant progress in reducing their impact on the environment. I’m delighted that the signatories are pushing themselves to achieve against even more ambitious commitments, having gone above and beyond the last set of targets.

“The strength of commitment is plain to see when you look at how much progress has been made in the last decade: for example, only 6% of waste was sent to landfill in 2013, down from 47% in 2005. But retailers will continue to keep this momentum going: they recognise that it makes business sense and delivers real environmental benefits as well as value for their customers.”

Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for Defra, who is speaking at today’s event, said: “This initiative has been very successful in showing how industry can reduce the environmental impact of the retail sector.  

“It also highlights how it is possible to grow businesses in a sustainable way that is not only good for the environment but for the economy as well.”