Special Report: Go for the Green
Retailers report five primary benefits of sustainability programs: reduced costs, enhanced reputation, risk management, improved employee enthusiasm and proactive regulatory strategies. On average, top-performing companies find that this wealth of benefits extends to increased revenues and profits.
To grow and improve business sustainability programs, companies must track and report key metrics. Three commonly tracked sustainability-related metrics are facility energy consumption, transportation fuel usage for private and/or third-party fleets, and waste volumes. In addition, water usage, supplier audits, renewable energy generation and chemicals of concern will see a significant uptick in measurement over the next five years.
When it comes to improving the sustainability performance of retailers' facilities (e.g., brick-and-mortar stores, corporate headquarters, warehouses), waste and energy reduction are the most common pursuits, though managing greenhouse gas emissions and water use as well as building with green techniques will grow significantly over the next two years. Supply chain improvements have focused on transportation fuel efficiency and materials, including chemicals of concern and packaging design. Transparency remains a key trend. Disclosing the social and environmental impacts of product supply chains is a growing practice among retail brands.
The RILA report also highlights a number of sustainability priorities that will grow significantly over the next two years. Within two years, 20 percent more companies will be prioritizing the following impact areas: water usage; environmental and human rights impacts from product manuafcturing; business model innovation; product design, use, take-back and lifecycle impact measurement; government affairs; customer education; and investor relations. In short, managing all aspects of the product life cycle, from design through use and disposal, will become increasingly prevalent practices over the next two years.
Although many retailers have strong waste and energy management programs already in place, there are still challenges to overcome. One significant challenge is collaboration.