Gartner: Retail’s role in sustainability improvements
Increasingly, retailers are learning that sustainability matters to their customers, and the COVID season did not stop sustainability efforts.
Recycling, energy conservation and reduction of waste are all everyday topics of conversation.
That desire to help conserve Earth’s resources has helped unite customers who may otherwise be very different from one another.
To meet the increasing requests from customers for carbon-neutral packaging and products, retailers are offering more environmentally friendly options. Gartner has recommended three ways retailers could improve sustainability within their supply chains: source responsibly; use recyclable or minimal packaging; incorporate “recycled goods” into product offerings.
Image: Tom Fisk
Retailers can choose vendor and distribution partners who practice sustainability.
When reviewing vendors, retailers can weigh sustainability as quality.
Sustainability includes processes that mitigate the harmful impacts of pollution and waste on the ecosystem, including reducing freshwater contamination and greenhouse gases.
Retailers benefit too, because sustainable practices such as decreasing energy usage, cutting back on waste generated and eliminating equipment for pollution control lower operating costs.
Image: Karolina Grabowska
Many suppliers are coming up with innovative packaging to reduce waste.
For example, dental floss can now be purchased in reusable glass vials, rather than hard plastic packages.
Not only has the product cut back dramatically on waste, but because of its very nature, it creates its own pool of customers who return to buy the floss replacement on a regular basis.
On the recycling side, L’Oreal cosmetics will market its first cosmetics in recyclable paper bottles to consumers this year.
Image: Nataliya Vaitkevich
Thrifting — or shopping secondhand—is in vogue, and not solely because items are bargains or bespoke.
Because these goods are living a second life, they aren’t taking up room at the local landfill.
In addition, significant amounts of resources are saved by not creating a new product. For example, making a pair of jeans uses approximately 1,800 gallons of water.
The production process also generated greenhouse gases equal to driving more than 80 miles.
A number of retailers are focused on the “re-commerce” market, such as ThredUp and Poshmark, but some clothing brands including REI and Patagonia are selling their own gently used clothing, similar to the way in which luxury automobiles have sold “certified pre-owned vehicles” for many years.
Retailers wanting to strengthen or embark on a sustainability program should ensure their suppliers are committed to the same long-term vision.
Increasingly, customers are looking to buy from retailers and brands that share their values, and that includes companies that recycle, reduce waste and promote sustainable business practices.