Retailers from M&S, Boots and Mango to Ikea and Pets at Home are embracing the circular economy in their attempt to lead an environmentally responsible retailing, thus attracting sustainability-focused customers who are no strangers to a zero-waste philosophy. Last week, several leaders in the field announced their continuing work on tackling environmental issues as well as committing to future targets.
M&S says that it’s pressing on with using more sustainable cotton. Last week, it said doing so created better "value because our customers care about where our products come from and how they are produced."
Some 77% of the retailer’s cotton is already grown in a way to help farmers to use fewer pesticides and water and last week M&S promised to raise the bar to 100% by 2020.
The retailer began its eco-friendly journey back in 2009 when it collaborated with WWF to support farmers in India "to develop ways to produce cotton that care for the environment and respect the rights and well-being of workers."
Last week Mike Barry, director of Plan A and sustainable business at M&S, said: “Across our business we’re delivering better value for our customers, cutting prices and improving our products. Plan A plays a vital role in this transformation as Better Cotton equals better value because our customers care about where products come from and how they are produced. That’s why customers are at the heart of Plan A and why we’re helping to democratise sustainability by placing an eco or ethical quality into every product.”
Boots, an Elite retailer in the IRUK Top500, has long recognised the importance of protecting the environment by stepping up its game as the first retailer to use recycled plastic in toiletry bottles in 2016. In 2015, the retailer removed plastic microbeads from the rinse off products ahead of the UK ban, and last year changed cotton bud stems from plastic to rolled paper.
What’s interesting is that during its 2017 financial year Boots achieved its CO2 reduction target three years ahead of schedule, cutting emissions by 33%.
The Top500 Elite retailer is working towards a target of 30% emission reduction by 2020, as part of the Mayday network that’s responsible for tackling climate change.
Meanwhile, Mango, a Top250 retailer is working towards "committed and responsible fashion" by launching the third edition of its sustainable "Committed" collection. The collection, unveiled in April, is part of ’Mango’s Take Action’ programme, in which the company aims to increase the number of garments being made from sustainable fabrics by 50% before 2022.
Previously, the retailer piloted a Second Chances project in the city of Barcelona by placing collection containers for unwanted clothes. The goal of the project was to recycle and reuse unwanted clothing and to help reduce textile waste.
Swedish homewares retailer Ikea pledges to redesign all of its products using "circular" principles with the objective of only using renewable and recycled materials. The Top500 Elite retailer will continue the eco-change by removing all single-use plastic from its product range and restaurants by 2020, as part of its sustainability plan.
The retailer also promised last week to reduce total climate footprint of its product range by an average of 70% per product. Ikea already boasts of its achievements such as an introduction of a tap nozzle which saves more than 90% of water used and textiles that help to purify water.
Top100 retailer Pets at Home is using automated technology from Conveyor Networks in its warehouse that dovetails with the retailer’s sustainability policy. The new system, which promises efficiency, greater productivity and real-time stock visibility to provide accurate deliveries to its customers, will use cardboard rather than plastic bags as part of the retailer’s commitment to sustainable packaging.
Our view: These five retailers are leveraging their ’retailer might’ and status to champion the change towards a sustainable retailing. In my opinion, it’s about time brands transformed their business strategies to a more eco-friendly consumption as this is playing a part in meeting ever-changing consumer demands. Consumers’ lifestyles and consumption habits are changing and so should retailers’ tactics. These retailers are doing just that.