RILA concluded the sixth annual Retail Sustainability Conference on October 3 in Orlando, FL. The three-day summit provided industry executives with educational opportunities, exposure to emerging trends and insight into successful retail sustainability initiatives.
Mike Ward, President of IKEA US, Kicks-Off 2013 Retail Sustainability Conference
The event started on October 1 with IKEA’s US President Mike Ward sharing the company’s People and Planet Positive strategy, including their focus on the supply chain from sourcing to store, their net-zero energy strategy, their focus on the consumer and making affordable products that can help them be more sustainable – including induction heat cooktops and LED lighting.
At the close of day one, Annabelle Gurwitch gave an entertaining glimpse into the psyche of customers by sharing her personal environmental journey and her work with people and companies.
Day two kicked-off with Getting Out of the Sustainability Box. In this session Bruce Karas, vice president, environment & sustainability at the Coca-Cola Company and Eric Olson, senior vice president of Business for Social Responsibility, discussed the process by which Coca-Cola and other companies have made sustainability core to their businesses.
Annabelle Gurwitch, Actress and Activist, Closes the First Day
Day two also included Hands-On Activity: Give Kids the World Village where attendees participated in a hands-on activity clearing brush and installing a rainwater-collection system at a charity village for critically ill children and their families. Give Kids the World Village is a 70-acre resort complete with over 140 Villa accommodations, entertainment attractions, whimsical venues, and fun specifically designed for children with special needs. With the help of many generous individuals, corporations and partnering wish-granting organizations, Give Kids the World has welcomed more than 122,000 families from all 50 states and over 74 countries. To learn more visit: http://www.gktw.org/
The day concluded with a panel showcasing inspiring work from around the world. The panel, composed of the executives from Rebuild Globally, Clean the World, A Gift for Teaching and Matthew 25: Ministries, shared individual stories and experiences of organizations focused on social justice and improving the global community while reducing waste.
Give Kids The World Village - Where Happiness Inspires Hope
The final day of the conference opened with an unprecedented panel discussion with two Chief Finance Officers. The session, Finance is from Mars; Sustainability is from Venus: Bridging the Gap, addressed one of the fundamental challenges associated with integrating sustainability practices into a business, namely working with corporate finance teams to identify the most financially beneficial projects. The panel, composed of the Chief Financial Officers from Walgreen Co. and Hyatt Hotels, together with the lead sustainability executive from Office Depot and a moderator from PricewaterhouseCoopers, brought together perspectives from the worlds of finance and sustainability to make the case that partnership between these internal functions can drive long term performance.
Breakout sessions continued throughout the morning and focused on topics such as merchandising and sourcing, marketing and communications, and environmental compliance. One panel, comprised of executives from Schneider Electric and Kohl’s Corporation, discussed how big data is shaping the retail industry’s energy management practices. The executives focused their discussion on the tools available to businesses looking to harness this information to reduce their energy costs and usage.
The day closed out with a final keynote address delivered by noted futurist and Chief Creative Officer of PopTech, Andrew Zolli. Focusing on inspiring achievements in sustainability from around the globe, Mr. Zolli inspired the audience to think differently about how they communicate and connect to stakeholders in their ongiong efforts to reduce the impact humans have on the environment.
“Every year we believe we have put together the best and most informative program,” said Adam Siegel, vice president, sustainability and retail operations at RILA. “Yet, every year I am pleasantly surprised by how much information is shared, how many new ideas are discussed and the progress that retailers are continuing to make. If you’re not in these conversations yet, you need to be—because you are falling behind.”
Some of these session will be available on RILA’s Live Learning Center in a few weeks, so check back or watch your inbox for details.
RILA’s 2014 sustainability event will be held September 29 to October 2, 2014 in Minneapolis, Minnesota—home to some of the largest U.S. retailers and consumer products companies.