The Retail Sustainability Initiative (RSI) is an action-oriented group of environmental leaders in the retail industry dedicated to collaborating on the issues that impact retailers and the environment. Members share experience and expertise, collaborate on cross-industry projects, participate in research and benchmarking projects, and advocate for environmental regulations that make sense for the environment as well as the industry.
RSI brings retailers together to advance environmentally sustainable activities and business practices relevant to the retail industry. RSI is leading the retail industry in the design of alternatives and solutions for the issues related to environmental compliance and voluntary sustainability leadership.
Membership in RSI is one of the benefits of being a RILA member. Joining RSI is a way to turn your sustainability ideas into action: network with peers in the retail industry, share best practices around environmental sustainability and compliance challenges, and take part in unique industry projects that will help your company meet its sustainability commitments.
If you are a RILA member and have not yet become involved in RSI, or if you are a non-member who would like to learn more about RSI and other benefits of RILA membership, please reach out to Sarah Walczewski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preventing Climate Change
- RSI members are committed to implementing greener sources of energy. RSI members have explored a range of strategies for improving green power procurement, including outreach to utilities to develop workable green energy specifications, expanding use of on-site sources such as solar panels, more effective use of green power rebates offered by utility companies, and other innovative options.
- RSI members are committed to efficiently and effectively reducing their greenhouse gas emissions. RSI provided expert educational guidance on carbon calculation and emissions reduction through the series of webinars as well as meetings and conferences on this subject.
- RSI members are embracing local sourcing in their merchandise mix, particularly regarding locally produced food. Retailers recognize the importance of local sourcing both as a way to reduce carbon emissions and to support the community.
Greener Supply Chains
- RILA is an Affiliate member of U.S. EPA’s SmartWay Transport® program and supports this collaborative effort to create a more efficient and environmentally sustainable supply chain across the industry. RSI sits on EPA’s shipper stakeholder committee, which is working to develop the framework, guidelines and methodology for SmartWay’s next version, SmartWay Version 2.0.
Protecting the Water Supply
- RSI members understand that water is a precious resource in peril. Retailers are implementing solutions such as xeriscaping, graywater and reclaimed water recovery and reuse, and other innovative strategies.
- Retailers are committed to educating customers about the importance of water conservation and helping customers be better stewards by including water-efficient products in their merchandise mixes. RSI is partnering with the EPA Department of Water to further educate its members.
- RSI is currently developing a three-part webinar series to educate members on innovations in water conservation. Topics may include conservation in store construction and operations, protecting water throughout the supply chain, educating consumers on the issue of conservation, and more. This series is anticipated to launch the spring of 2009.
Ensuring Compliance and Safety
- RSI has partnered with the U.S. EPA to create a retail web portal, which will support retailer environmental compliance by providing streamlined access to all retail-related environmental regulations within the EPA’s domain as well as links to external information of value to retail.
- RSI has also partnered with the U. S. EPA Department of Resource Conservation and Recycling to provide feedback on current issues facing the agency and our industry.
- In addition, RILA is an Energy Star Partner and supports the measurement and tracking of energy performance of facilities where possible by using tools such as those offered through Energy Star; to develop and implement plans consistent with the Energy Star Energy Management Guidelines to achieve energy savings; and to help spread the word about the importance of energy efficiency to staff and the community.
- RILA has formed a partnership with the British Retailing Consortium (BRC) to develop and execute a global standard for safety of consumer products. In keeping with the spirit of this RILA-BRC partnership, RSI members are committed to the safety and well-being of their customers. RSI members also have worked to ensure the safety and the responsible stewardship of their products by developing strategies to bridge the communication gap between product manufacturers, retailers and consumers on product ingredients. Such strategies include:
- The Global Data Synchronization Network, which facilitates communication between retailers and manufacturers on product ingredients
- The Consumer Specialty Products Association’s Consumer Product Ingredient Communication Initiative, which promotes sharing information with consumers regarding chemical compounds in products
- Developing products and technologies with minimal impact on health, safety and the environment. RSI has partnered with the American Chemistry Council, whose scientists and engineers have made a strong commitment to health and environmental research, in providing education and resources to our members.
- RSI has partnered with the U.S. Green Building Council and their LEED for Retail program, the Department of Energy’s Retailer Alliance and EPA’s Energy Star rating program for green buildings. RSI members are comprised of the world’s largest and fastest-growing retailers, and green building, which incorporates local site impacts, lighting and HVAC-related energy reduction strategies, retrofitting of older facilities, and more, is a key strategy in the effort to reduce their carbon footprints.
Less Waste and Better Product Stewardship
- RSI members are partnering with mall operators to develop intra-mall recycling programs. RSI’s larger members have educated the group on effective recycling procedures that could be adapted to fit a mall or shopping center setting.
- RSI members are working with EPA’s Office of Solid Waste to share expertise on retailers’ existing reverse logistics strategies for handling hazardous waste, and to revise the waste code classification system for consumer products.
- Retailers welcome the expertise of NGOs that can help them find innovative ways to reduce waste and find sustainable sources for materials, such as paper for catalogues and circulars and packaging for consumer products.
- Many retailers have embraced the enthusiasm of their employee networks. RSI members have encouraged grassroots involvement and change through employee engagement programs.