The government has released new advice for retailers to help them cut their carbon footprint and to help save the planet from climate change.
The new guidance includes the following six steps towards a more sustainable business:
1. Offer your customers more sustainable products to buy
Assess your existing products and see if there are more sustainable options. Choose products made from recycled and recyclable materials, with minimal or no plastic packaging.
Start by asking your suppliers what they can offer that fits these criteria, then research new suppliers if they fall short.
2. Buy local where you can
Stocking products made closer to home allows you to support your local economy and community. Locally produced products can lower carbon emissions, as they do not need to travel as far to reach your shop.
Also consider what other things could be sourced locally, such as shop fittings, furniture, packaging and repair or marketing services.
3. Remove or improve packaging
Reducing the packaging you use, or switching to more eco-friendly packaging, will help cut both plastic pollution and emissions. And according to a recent study, almost three quarters of consumers are willing to pay more for sustainable packaging.
Ask your suppliers how non-essential packaging can be reduced when they ship your products. For essential packaging, work with them to understand what can be reused and collected in their next delivery.
4. Lengthen product lifespan with repairs and returns
The UK’s Right to Repair law will come into effect in 2021. The new rules will aim to bring an end to short lifespans being deliberately built into appliances by manufacturers, which currently leads to unnecessary and costly replacements for consumers.
For the first time, manufacturers will be legally obliged to make spare parts for products available to consumers, aiming to extend the lifespan of products by up to 10 years, preventing appliances ending up on the scrap heap. Make sure your business is ready by checking gov.uk for updates.
You could also run customer swap shops or be a collection point for items that are no longer wanted.
5. Ask before you print receipts
In the UK alone we print over 11.2bn receipts every year and 90% of them are lost, damaged or thrown away by consumers.
Ask your till provider if you can email receipts to customers instead of printing.
6. Make a formal commitment to cut your carbon and receive long term help and support
Retailers can commit to cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050 on the UK Business Climate Hub.
Andrew Griffith, the government’s business net zero champion, said: “This is important advice which will help retailers play a vital role in cutting the UK’s carbon emissions.
“From offering customers more sustainable products to removing unnecessary packaging, these small steps can collectively make a big difference in helping us fight climate change and create a brighter and more sustainable future.”
Richard Pennycook, chair of the retail sector council, said: “Retail is a highly competitive industry, and the consumer benefits from great choice and value as a result.
“But when it comes to creating a more sustainable planet, the Sector Council is clear that we can do great things if we co-operate and share best practice. The UK Business Climate Hub and greenstreet.org.uk are go-to places for independent retailers to find great tips on how to run their business more sustainably and appeal to their customers, who are more and more concerned to do the right thing for the planet.”
Read more news and advice on sustainable retail