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25 Top UK stores meet green targets

Homebase, Argos and Wickes are among 25 of the UK’s best-known retailers that have met all but one of 14 environmental targets.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) report shows stores have reduced waste sent to landfill from 45 per cent in 2005 to 14 per cent in 2011.

They have cut delivery emissions by almost a quarter and have reduced greenhouse gases from buildings by a fifth.

Carrier-bag use has been slashed by 40 per cent, and they have hit or exceeded targets on packaging, palm oil and refrigeration.

The one target the retailers are failing to meet is on reducing waste in the supply chain. They signed up to a commitment to cut waste, such as packaging, in the supply chain by 5 per cent by the end of 2012, but have achieved only 0.4 per cent.

The pledges, set by the BRC, were agreed in 2008 on a voluntary basis by retailers from the food, fashion, online, health and beauty and home improvement sectors.

The BRC does not record the performances of individual retailers, but monitors all 25 as a group.

Bob Gordon, the BRC’s head of environment, said: “Despite current economic difficulties, retailers are continuing to work with their suppliers to meet tougher sustainability goals.

“This BRC assessment shows that the UK has the most progressive retail sector in the world and, crucially, that work with consumers and environmental groups is driving standards up.

“Some previous targets have been met ahead of schedule, but investment continues, protecting consumers’ wallets and the planet.”

Other retailers involved included Argos, Comet, Homebase, Debenhams, M&S, Morrisons, Mothercare, Next, Sainsbury’s, the Body Shop, the Co-Operative, TK Maxx, Waitrose, WH Smith and Wickes.

They pledged to slash waste sent to landfill to below 15 per cent by 2013, but met the target two years early, sending only 14 per cent last year.

And whereas they pledged to reduce delivery emissions by 15 per cent by 2013, they achieved a 23 per cent reduction in 2011. They committed to cut energy-related emissions from buildings by a quarter by 2013, compared with 2005 levels, and by 2011 they were down by 20 per cent.

Hugh Jones, managing director, Carbon Trust Advisory, said: “Retail is a key sector with an important role to play, both in reducing its direct impact on carbon emissions but also through its supply chain influence, where it can use its purchasing choices to encourage greener behaviour among suppliers.”

The retail sector is directly responsible for around 3.5 per cent of UK greenhouse gas emissions, of which more than three-quarters comes from buildings, refrigeration and transport.

Julian Kirby, resource use campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “The great progress being made by many retailers puts the lack of government ambition to shame.

“The sector’s commitment to send zero waste to landfill is welcome, but the genuinely zero waste challenge is to prevent, reuse and recycle all their waste, rather than using the escape valve of energy-from-waste.”

The new assessment, A Better Retailing Climate: Towards Sustainable Retail, is being launched in the Commons today.

Stephen Robertson, director- general of BRC, said: “We must embrace more sustainable ways of doing business as we compete in an increasingly resource-constrained world.

“As global consumption increases, we have to be smarter about the way we provide goods and services, and how we reuse and recycle them at the end of their use.

“Retailers are leading the way in improving resource efficiency while reducing environmental impact. Government support is crucial for business to make this change.”

Source : The Scotsman
www.scotsman.com/news/environment/25_top_uk_stores_show_they_mean_business_in_meeting_green_targets_1_2086955

31 January 2012
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