Retailing Sustainably

01“Sustainability has to be positioned as a strategic driver, which can be integrated into existing structures, process and job descriptions,” says Sally Uren, CEO, Forum for the Future.

This gives rise to the obvious question “Why focus on sustainability?”

The word sustainability connotes a pollution free world. This can be achieved when energy consumption is minimized, carbon foot print reduced and employees have a healthy work environment. To achieve this, retailers need to mend the supply chain system, revamp stores and distribution centres and minimize waste generation.

The background
The Switch Programme developed by European Union helps retailers adopt sustainable supply chain practices. Switch stands for switching to sustainable consumption and production practices.

02The objective is to create and understand change through the comparisons of ‘pre’ and ‘post’ metrics. Change is required in the upstream value chain, where a number of suppliers and vendors collaborate, to downstream of the value chain – where the consumer is impacted.

To implement change on this magnitude, the Switch Asia Programme, a regional programme, is running the Green Retail Project of four year duration in India.  The Green Retail Project, funded by the European Union (EU), is spearheaded by CII along with the four partners, Retailers Association of India (RAI), Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), Austria Recycling (AREC) and Stenum ASIA.

Focus: Food & Beverages
Like other industries, retail has taken its share of the blame in impacting the environment. As the sector grows this impact becomes severe. For example:  the Food & Beverage (F&B) sector, which accounts for 60% of retail business, is the most energy intensive industry in India.

Ms Seema Arora, Director of Green Retail Project, says, “In the F&B sector, 40% of products go to waste either in supply chain operations, retail outlets or consumer use phases. This is a huge number, indicative of inefficiencies in the system and has direct financial implications – cost, production output and sales. Even if we are able to address 03these two big sustainability impacts of the chain, it is not complete until we work with consumers and society in getting them to use more sustainable products towards improving their lifestyle. To achieve this, retailers have to provide products that are more sustainable than the norm in their manufacture, use and disposal – this requires close collaboration with supply chain members – and also generate awareness, communicate and educate consumers in going for a more sustainable option. Creating a shift in consumers’ mindset is a hard but extremely important task that the retail industry has to undertake.”

Future focus:
India has adopted National action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008 to implement integrated strategies for achieving key goals in the context of the climate change. The eighth National Mission is the core mission of NAPCC which is coordinated by the Mission on Solar Energy and Energy Efficiency.  As an extension of the national plan, state level action plans have been drafted and deployed at various level of governance aligned with the eight National Missions. “India has announced a domestic goal of reducing the emission intensity of its GDP by 20-25 per cent of the 2005 level by 2020. This will be achieved through a multi-sector low carbon development strategy,” says Ms Arora.

04Woodland’s concern for the planet

  • Use of recycled paper for the packaging and carry bags
  • Electronic billing, publishing and communication to minimise use of paper and energy
  • Associated with WWF Earth Hour campaign, UNICEF Wash Program
  • Under Proplanet banner conducting youth oriented activities to spread awareness about environmental issues
  • Rewarding customers who are using green products such as a solar heater.

Religare Healthworld slashes the use of paper

  • 05Switch to CFL and LED lighting systems
  • Carton reusing policy – to ensure that packing is recycled for material dispatches
  • Replacing plastic loyalty cards with a robust IT/mobile phone based system, thus saving on energy used for printing loyalty cards
  • SMS/Web based feedback system which has resulted in lesser consumption of physical paper

Eco-friendly approach by Yum! Brands

  • 06Have been strategically developing suppliers in India to grow local expertise and experience, and improving industry standards by transferring know-how from Yum!’s international supply base.
  • With one year of operations of the Besant Nagar store, Yum! has been successful in saving 42% of potable water, using fixtures designed for lower water use and combined with the reuse of rejected water from RO in toilet flushing. These savings are based on LEED baselines and have been accepted by Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI)
  • Besant Nagar store also saves 22% electrical energy through initiatives like high efficiency air-conditioning, ventilation; use of reflective paints and double glazing, lighting with low-power LED bulbs, harvesting sunlight to reduce artificial lighting and using solar energy for heating, amongst others. This store was built with locally sourced, environmentally friendly construction and paint material.

The Body Shop way to sustainable causes

  • Primary suppliers for products and shop fittings must comply with the Ethical Trade initiative – including fair rights for workers in supply Chain.
  • The new ‘Pulse’ store shop fit is sustainably sourced and made from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council).
  • 46% of the products have PCR (Post Consumer Recyclate) packaging
  • Sourcing 100% of wooden accessories through FSC sources
  • “Wood Positive” – an initiative that calculates paper and card usage in the international supply chain, and replants the equivalent amount plus an extra 10%.
  • Has own foundation which has supported over 2500 initiatives around the world in human rights, animal welfare and protecting the environment
  • Products are 100% vegetarian, and the company recently won the “International Sustainability Brand of the Year” with the Business In The Community
  • Cruelty-free campaign in partnership with Cruelty Free International to help promote the ban of animal testing around the world

Sustainability gifts every 11th store “free” – to Mahindra Retail

  • Overall energy spends down by 15% by using LEDs lights
  • Reducing emissions by changing air conditioning filters regularly;
  • Reducing carry bag usage
  • Reducing travel by using video conferencing
  • Reducing resources by reusing and resizing building fixtures, thereby saving 18% of maintenance costs.

07Energy Efficiency helps save Rs 6.8cr per annum for Shoppers Stop

  • Saving 60 lakh units of power using energy efficient lighting and by working with the mall developers to maximise natural light. This equals to Rs 6.8 crore per annum, which is a cost of a one store.
  • Rainwater harvesting / storm water drainage based reuse of water resources for air conditioners.
  • Focusing on recycling paper saving 84 mio pages to date through initiatives


The following two tabs change content below.
Suranjana Basu
With a career spanning over eight years, Suranjana Basu has worked closely with the Indian retail sector for more than six years. She is currently, Regional Head – North Zone, for RAI. A post graduate in English literature, she learnt the nitty gritty of editing from a few New Delhi based publishing agencies prior to joining the magazine “Retailer”, published by Franchise India. She was the assistant editor of the magazine when she left the organization to join RAI. Below is the list for session proceedings created by Suranjana for ReTechCon 2013: 1) Accelerating Availability 2) Delivering Future of Retail Today 3) Connect-How technology aligns with business 4) Creating solutions for omni-channel retailers 5) Driving Pace of Change in Retail 6) Mobility solutions for retail 7) State of Retail e-Marketing in India:Insights from the India retail e-Marketing Study 2013 8) Use IT or lose IT 9) Moment of Truth 10) Managing Growth using Next Generation Retail Platform 11) Use of technology in Retail
Suranjana Basu

Latest posts by Suranjana Basu (see all)