Long-Lasting Sustainability Strategies for Retailers
It’s that time of the year when retailers ready themselves for a surge in sales and roll out festive promotions. But after the cash registers stop ringing and the holiday lights turn off, many concerns surface, such as gift returns and ongoing sustainability challenges.
Retailers are estimated to throw away around 25 percent of their returns after the holidays, and waste increases by between 25 percent and 43 percent, meaning about 25 million tons of holiday garbage goes to landfills.
The good news is that there are simple ways for retailers to exit out of the holiday season with less waste. Read on to learn three steps that can help reduce your footprint year-round while achieving operational efficiency that could keep and put money in your pocket.
Step 1: Data and Reporting
This holiday season is a good starting point to reach sustainability, and having access to data and reporting can create a path. These assets can tell a company where it spends its time and resources, which areas need more attention, and how it compares to other retailers.
Don’t underestimate the importance of facts and figures within a workplace’s waste streams. Studies have shown that 80 percent of data-driven companies have experienced a revenue uplift.
This process can:
- Reveal costly, wasteful problems.
- Discovering that a supplier’s packaging causes too many broken items during shipment or shelving.
- Unlock new revenue streams and other beneficial opportunities.
- An accurate forecast of consumer behavior allows a retailer to tailor offers to individual consumers.
- Boost the effectiveness of company programs and enhance operational efficiency.
- Increased accuracy, timeliness and information leads to better decision making.
- Measure success
- Determine what success looks like and what a retail business stands to benefit.
Transparent data and reporting are the first steps to increasing and improving resources.
Step 2: Apply Insights
Once retailers discover how they may be overspending and identify savings opportunities, they should prioritize learning how to apply those insights or work with a service provider that can give guidance.
For example, a retail business may discover it's discarding too much packaging material or selling products with poor packaging design. Rather than contributing to the estimated 80-plus million tons of discarded packaging material each year or going against consumer wishes, there are more sustainable alternatives, such as packaging made from 100 percent recyclable materials to help reduce unnecessary waste.
The same goes for grocery stores. Every year, Americans throw away a staggering $408 billion in uneaten or unsold food. To combat this, grocers can adjust portion sizes, donate leftovers, or participate in an economically efficient program transforming food waste into an upcycled product.
Step 3: Look for the Team Players
Becoming sustainable takes a village, and engaging everyone who can contribute is important. When seeking assistance, partner with those who can serve as extensions of your business. Doing so can help bolster a culture of sustainability in a workplace and keep ideas flowing to adapt to any change.
The holiday season is in full swing and now is the time to embrace sustainability and start implementing landfill-diverting strategies like the above. All it takes is someone with creative business planning and group effort to help determine an individual plan that will work for your unique company.
Don’t let sustainability become an afterthought. These efforts can make a big difference during the holidays and beyond.
Ray Hatch is president and CEO of Quest Resource Management Group, a national leader in environmental waste and recycling services.
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Ray Hatch has served as president and CEO of Quest Resource Management Group (NASDAQ: QRHC) since February 2016. A senior executive with in-depth experience building profitable businesses and orchestrating transformational growth, Ray brings over 25 years of experience in both the waste management and food services industries. He has managed businesses and/or business units with as many as 600+ employees and more than one billion dollars in revenue. Previously, Ray served as President of Merchants Market Group, an international foodservice distribution company. Ray also served in various executive roles with Oakleaf Waste Management, a provider of waste outsourcing that was acquired by Waste Management.