The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is the trade association of the world’s largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers domestically and abroad.
RILA’S RETAIL SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE
RILA’s Retail Sustainability Initiative (RSI) committee structure focuses on five sustainability areas key to successful retail programs: 1. energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; 2. waste and recycling; 3. products and supply chains; 4. environmental compliance; and 5. communicating, reporting, and engaging. The industry initiative engages retail sustainability executives for three primary objectives:
| RSI helps executives...
|| By engaging with them through...|
- Share best practices
(What can we learn
from each other?)
- Annual industry conferences
- Benchmarking studies
- Case studies
- Interactive conference calls and meetings
- Webinars with topic experts
- Newsletters and more frequent news mailings
- Develop next practices
(What do we need to
- Research studies with actionable results
- Collaborative partnerships
- Communicate and advocate
(What can we teach
- Commenting on regulations and rulemakings
- Advocating on behalf of retail sustainability interests
- Providing tools and resources for internal communication
In 2011, RSI hosted monthly conference calls and two annual meetings for each committee topic to discuss a wide range of compliance and sustainability topics as well as the annual Retail Sustainability Conference. Some of the most crucial themes addressed by RSI in 2011 included defining “sustainability” as it applies to the retail industry, identifying the stakeholders necessary to the industry’s success on its sustainability journey, building relationships with those stakeholders, and initiating working projects to further the industry’s collective sustainability agenda.
This report is a culmination the retail industry’s activities, and specifically highlights the last year of retail sustainability efforts, which will continue to evolve and expand over time.
HISTORY OF RILA’S RETAIL SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE (RSI)
The initial group of retail participants and others met in Plano, TX in May of 2007. The meeting was instigated by two trends in the industry: 1. an increase in regulatory enforcement actions against retailers with regard to issues ranging from storm water violations to hazardous material management and 2. the increase in sustainability activities throughout the industry. Both compliance and sustainability were understood to define the spectrum of environmental efforts necessary to run a successful retail company then and in the future.
Representation at this meeting included key sustainability and compliance professionals from Advance Auto Parts, Auto Zone, BJ’s Wholesale Clubs, CarMax, H-E-B, JC Penney, Limited Brands, Marks & Spencer, Office Max, Pier 1 Importers, and Walmart. Many of the individuals from this initial committed group have been crucial to the development and success of the Initiative.
Following this meeting, retailers worked through RILA to expand the Initiative to where it is today. RSI was first convened through a partnership between three organizations: Navista, The Shaw Group, and RILA. Navista, a public affairs group based in Washington, DC, specializes in coalition development and management, as well as strategic counseling. The Shaw Group is a global supplier of construction and engineering solutions, including environmental compliance, sustainability, and energy management consulting.
In August of 2007, RSI was formalized with an initial focus on addressing regulatory compliance and sustainability challenges through a coordinated forum with peer organizations and leaders. It was staffed by Navista, Shaw Environmental, and RILA who together provided strategic counsel, project management, and retail and technical expertise to the network. The official kickoff meeting for RSI was held only a couple months later, in October of 2007.
RSI has progressed significantly over the past four years, changing its structure and significantly increasing its retail membership. The Initiative has hosted four successful annual conferences, taking place each Fall and attracting almost 400 sustainability and compliance professionals from the retail industry to discuss best practices, develop collaborations, and identify future trends.
While RSI began with a core and committed group of 11 retail companies, it has grown to include participation from a wide swath of the industry’s leading retailers: from large formats to small, and product categories ranging from apparel to automotive, electronics to toys, outdoor equipment to pet supplies. RSI will continue to grow and evolve, both in membership and focus, as the industry’s needs and efforts evolve.