As environmental issues rise up the political agenda and new regulations seem increasingly likely, RN readers are discovering that going green can be good for business. Tom Gockelen-Kozlowski and Priyanka Jethwa report

A levy on paper cups is being discussed, all retailers must now charge for carrier bags and the carbon footprint of the food we buy and the stores we buy it from is suddenly in the public eye like never before. 

And the industry has reacted. Supplier Coca-Cola has pledged to collect and recycle all packaging by 2030. Evian meanwhile is going to use 100% recyclable plastic in its bottles by 2025 and PepsiCo has invested millions in potatoes for its crisps which reduce waste and grow efficiently. 

Supermarkets, too, are catching up. Iceland is due to eliminate all plastic from its own brand produce from 2023. 

So, what about independent retailers? 

RN spoke to 11 RN readers to find out how they have made changes to their business to help the environment and cut waste. The good news is that in almost every case, their investment has had benefits for the business’s bottom line too.


Khuram Pervez, Family Shopper, Newcastle Upon Tyne
About two years ago, we partnered up with Enviro-Glo on an energy- saving project where they installed a ventilation system in the fridge that kept the cold air inside, preventing it from spilling it on the shop floor. This means nothing is being wasted, and we don’t have to turn on our heating as much. Not only has it lowered our energy bills, but it means we are doing our bit for the environment.


Allison Leach, Chellow Heights Service Station and Spar, Bradford
We have had solar panels on the roof of our business for the past three years which we use to power all the chillers and lights in the store. We have a meter reader in the shop which customers can see and it has become a talking point for customers.


Joe Williams, The Village Shop, Hook Norton
We’re moving away from using plastic bags for fruit and vegetables and replacing them paper ones. In the past couple of weeks with all the media attention surrounding plastic waste, we’ve had customers come in and ask if we have any paper bags instead of plastic.


Naresh Gajri, Cranhill Convenience Store, Glasgow
Four years ago we invested in LED lighting and immediately cut our energy use by 50%. We made our money back in a little more than two years and alongside investing in new chiller units this has meant that we’re still paying what we were for electricity five years ago.  


Narendra Singh Jadeja, Londis, Waltham Forest, London
My dairy chiller was working perfectly but it used a lot of energy and blew hot air into the shop. I spent £6,000 on a new one which cuts my bill by a third and I also invested in new lighting for the store too. It’s so important to find savings and I’m so glad I could make this investment.


Tom Dant, Partney Filling Station, Partney, Lincolnshire
By turning near-to-date items into food to go we’ve managed to get wastage down in one store from £600 per week to £170-£200. We’ve also started dry mix recycling our rubbish, separating out paper, glass and plastics as you would at home. Because there isn’t a financial incentive it’s not as encouraged in businesses. 


Ash Patel, Gerhold Fine Food & News, London
We used to get our rubbish collected by the council and it would pile up outside the store. Now our symbol group, Londis, collects it with every delivery. It means we can save £40 to £50 in collection costs per week because the prices of the company the council uses kept going up and up. 


Yogi Tatler, Crown Row Londis, Bracknell
Updating our chillers and installing doors cut our bills by 35% to 40%. Despite the fact that it cost £9,000 to do, the saving we made financed my store refit meaning the whole update cost me very little. To begin with I was worried what customers would think about the doors but they hardly noticed.


Adrian Rodda, AR News, in Harrogate, Yorkshire
We take part in the returnable Coca-Cola bottle scheme where customers can recycle bottles with us, and started to sell Coke in glass bottles, instead of plastic. People prefer glass, anyway, because the Coke tastes better. We also use paper bags instead of plastic. We have to do our part to protect the planet for future generations.