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HRG joins retailer/supplier sustainability collaboration

In a sign of the growing role collaboration is playing to address the complex sustainability issues facing business, UK retailers and suppliers have come together to reduce the 'whole life’ environmental cost of everyday products.

The collaboration, which is being described as "groundbreaking" brings together over 80 retailers and suppliers, including big names such as Krafts Foods, Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Unilever and Home Retail Group.

They will work together to reduce the impact of wide range of consumer goods, from dairy products to DIY materials over their entire lifetime, from production to disposal. Products for the first time will be measured against a range of sustainability targets, including carbon, water, use of raw materials, energy and waste.

Everyday products are responsible for an estimated 30 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Some retailers and suppliers are already doing extensive work on reducing the environmental impact of their products. Last year, sportswear brand Puma become the first global firm to show in monetary terms the true cost to the environment of providing products for its customers. And this week, Marks and Spencer announced that it has designed a suit entirely from sustainable materials.

Collaborative approach:
But it is hoped that by taking this collaborative approach the industry will make faster and more effective progress on environmental targets than if businesses were working alone.

"This new collaboration will help businesses find the best ways to manufacture, transport, store, display and dispose of a wide range of products so they have the smallest possible impact on the planet. It’s truly ground-breaking," said Bob Gordon, head of Environment at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), one of the trade bodies backing the project.

Product Sustainability Forum:
The initiative has come out of the Product Sustainability Forum (PSF), set up last year by the Government waste reduction body WRAP.

"The beauty of the forum is that is its truly collaborative nature with organisations from across retail, DIY and the drinks sector," a WRAP spokesperson said.

She added that the PSF would initially focus on products produced and sold in the UK and that a report would be published in the autumn detailing the environmental footprint of the most resource intensive products and ways to reduce their impact.

"Obviously a lot of members are not just UK-based so the whole question of supply chain is one of the issues the PSF will look at [in the future]," she said.

Source : GreenWise

21 June 2012
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