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UK retailers cut carbon emissions by a third; Amazon announces two further renewable energy projects

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UK retailers have cut their carbon emissions by a third and reduced to 2% the proportion of waste that they send to landfill, a new study from the British Retail Consortium suggests. 

The BRC says that almost 30 retailers have signed up to the Better Retail Better World initiative since 2005, as they work to meet the global challenges of the coming decades, from modern slavery and decent work through to sustainable economic growth, climate change and responsible consumption and production. 

Multichannel fashion retailers Missguided and New Look are among the latest to join. 

The BRC study says that by 2018 retailers had reduced their carbon emissions by 36%, well ahead of the original 2020 target of 25%. Supermarkets had reduced their greenhouse gas emissions from refrigeration by 55%, behind the 2020 target of 80%, and retailers had cut the proportion of waste that they send to landfill to 2%, where the 2020 target is 1%. 

At the same time, retailers have reduced the amount of waste they produce, relative to shop floorspace, by 35% in 2018, the amount of water they use in stores by 19%, and have reduced carbon emissions from transport by 9%. 

Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the BRC, said: “We are facing a climate emergency; it is ever more important for businesses to unite to tackle these global challenges. While we can see significant progress being made, we should not underestimate the scale of the challenge before us.

“The public want to know that the food they eat, the clothes they wear and the goods they buy are ethically made and responsibly sourced. Better Retail Better World brings together retailers to collaboratively play their part in creating a sustainable future.”

Nitin Passi, founder and chief executive of Missguided, said: “Collaboration between retailers to deliver on UN Sustainable Development Goals and address the challenges our industry faces in sustainability, ethical supply chains, and workers’ rights, is more than just vital – it’s the only way to bring real, lasting change.

“That’s why here at Missguided, we’re committed to the Better Retail Better World initiative so we can make progress together. And because we know that’s important to our customers, it makes it important to us.”

Meanwhile, Amazon this week announced two new renewable energy projects, a wind farm in the Republic of Ireland and a solar farm in Virginia. Both are expected to start producing energy from next year, to power Amazon Web Services data centres, which fuel the Amazon website and other sites run on AWS. A recent Solar Means Business Report ranked Amazon number one in the US for the amount of solar installed on site in 2018. Amazon says that its solar projects in the US have offset the equivalent of more than 200m miles of truck deliveries. 

“Playing a significant role in helping to reduce the sources of human-induced climate change is an important commitment for Amazon,” said Kara Hurst, director of sustainability at Amazon. “Major investments in renewable energy are a critical step to address our carbon footprint globally. We will continue to invest in these projects and look forward to additional investments this year and beyond.”

Amazon and New Look are Elite retailers in IRUK Top500 research, while Missguided is Top150.

Image courtesy of Amazon

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