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Progress revealed on retail-wide climate change goals

With 25 days to go before the crucial Copenhagen climate change conference, a string of major household-name UK retailers are announcing they have met challenging environmental pledges ahead of schedule and have committed to even more demanding targets.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Progress revealed on retail-wide climate change goals

One of their key achievements is a 130,000 tonne reduction in the amount of waste they sent to landfill in 2008 compared with 2005. The dramatic improvement is revealed in A Better Retailing Climate Progress Report 2009 published today (Thursday) by the British Retail Consortium (BRC) – an update on the comprehensive set of goals signed by retailers last year on how they will reduce the environmental impact of their businesses by 2013.

The proportion of waste sent to landfill by retailers has been reduced by around a third between 2005 and 2008. This has been achieved through a range of initiatives such as higher recycling rates and converting organic waste to biogas and fertiliser through anaerobic digestion. In 2008 retailers sent 32 per cent of their waste to landfill.

Retailers have also exceeded a target to reduce their energy use in buildings by 15 per cent between 2005/6 and 2008/9 on a like-for-like basis. This has been achieved through a variety of methods including designing stores that are up to 70 per cent more efficient and using low-carbon energy, such as wind and solar power.

Retailers have achieved significant energy efficiency improvements within a short period during which they have opened more stores and expanded their operations. More stores inevitably means more energy being used but, over a period when retail floor space increased 27 per cent, absolute emissions increased by just eight per cent.
But, to counter the effects of growth, retailers have committed to a new set of even tougher targets. These include extending the reduction in buildings emissions from 15 to 25 per cent by 2013 and cutting the proportion of waste sent to landfill to less than 25 per cent by the same date.

Business Minister Ian Lucas said: "It's really good to see how much retailers have achieved in meeting a wide range of environmental targets. They can see that it makes good business sense as they benefit from efficiency savings as well as helping consumers to play their part.

"I also welcome retailers taking the initiative of voluntarily pushing further and setting themselves even harder targets to help the UK meet its climate change goals."
Stephen Robertson, British Retailing Consortium Director General, said: "Retailers can rightly be proud of their achievements in cutting the environmental impact of their businesses.

"Even with the excellent progress already made in such a short period of time, retailers are determined to push even further. They have decided to ratchet up their green commitments by setting themselves even tougher targets to reduce their property energy emissions and landfill waste by 2013.

"These ambitious green goals are in addition to retailers' ongoing initiatives to encourage customers to adopt more environmentally friendly behaviour. This includes halving the number of single-use carrier bag taken by consumers between 2006 and 2009 and launching a standardised on-pack recycling label helping customers to recycle more of what can be recycled."

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