Government releases advice for retailers to cut their carbon footprint

Government releases advice for retailers to cut their carbon footprint

The government has released new advice for retailers ahead of COP26 to help businesses cut their carbon footprint.

An open letter from Andrew Griffith MP, UK net zero business champion, asks retailers to "take the first step on their journey to a low carbon future" by committing to cutting carbon emissions in half by 2030 and to reach ‘net zero’ by 2050. Net zero means the point businesses are putting no more carbon into the atmosphere than they are taking out of it.

In its advice to retailers, the government suggests offering customers more sustainable products, by choosing products made from recycled or recyclable materials, with minimal or no plastic packaging and certified sustainable, which in turn can be easily reused or recycled.

Businesses are encouraged to buy local where they can, to support the local economy and community, as well as to lower carbon emissions as they do not need to travel as far to reach shops. They should also remove or improve packaging and ask suppliers how non-essential packaging can be reduced when they ship products. For essential packaging, retailers should work with suppliers to understand what can be reused and collected in their next delivery.

Businesses should also ask before they print receipts, or ask till providers if they can email them to customers instead of printing. 

Other measures contained in the advice include a push for businesses to lengthen their product lifespan with repairs and returns. The UK’s Right to Repair law will come into effect in 2021, with new rules to bring an end to a short lifespan deliberately built into an appliance by manufacturers "which leads to unnecessary and costly replacements for consumers".

Griffith 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, added: “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.