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News - 18 September 2010
Stephen Robertson, BRC

Retailers halve waste without legislation

Retailers have halved the amount of waste they send to landfill compared with five years ago. This has been done on voluntary basis but nevertheless with ambitious targets.

Less than a quarter of waste produced by retailers is now sent to landfill sites compared with almost 50% in 2005. This dramatic reduction is one of the results revealed in A Better Retailing Climate Progress Report 2010 published by the British Retail Consortium (BRC). This is an update on the comprehensive set of goals signed by retailers two years ago for reducing the environmental impact of their businesses by 2013.

Retailers have also achieved an 18% reduction between 2005 and 2010 in both:

  • Energy-related emissions from buildings
  • Carbon dioxide emissions from transporting goods

But to help retailers go further with their environmental goals they need the Government to help them, rather than hinder. Supermarkets, for example, need colleges to train engineers to provide maintenance expertise and to encourage the development of low carbon alternatives to hydro-fluoro-carbon (HFC) refrigeration systems.

The Government must also ensure its localism agenda does not hand too much power to local groups to the detriment of meeting national and international environmental targets.

Stephen Robertson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said, “These remarkable achievements by retailers show their commitment to tackling climate change has not wavered, despite the tough trading conditions.

“Retailers have a proud record of delivering impressive environmental results on a voluntary basis – without the need for legislation. This includes helping their customers use 4.6 billion fewer single-use carrier bags between 2006 and 2010, despite major growth in sales.

“There could be benefits from more local decision making. But the Government’s localism agenda presents significant challenges to the excellent environmental work being done by retailers. Many climate change objectives are set nationally and internationally but often the opposition to schemes, such as wind farms or energy from waste plants, comes locally.

“We can’t let ‘nimbyism’ get in the way. A national approach is the best way to help retailers achieve environmental objectives at a local level. The BRC on-pack recycling label, which is increasing local authority recycling rates, is a good example.”


Read related items on:
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British Retail Consortium
Robertson, Stephen


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