The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), has released its
second Retail Sustainability Report today in sponsorship with Ernst & Young,
an organization that is well recognized for its sustainability leadership. The
2013 report highlights progress towards the industry’s evolving sustainability
objectives and identifies a class of top-performing characteristics.
The 2013 Retail Sustainability Report provides a snapshot of activities and
trends across RILA’s membership, portraying a detailed view of the industry’s
adoption of sustainability programs. Those programs achieve a wide range of
benefits from improved customer loyalty to decreased costs to more resilient
supply chains. The report’s data was drawn from responses to a survey completed
by RILA member companies. The survey’s respondents collectively represent more
than 65,000 locations and $1 trillion in global revenue.
The report can be viewed at www.retailsustainability.com.
“This RILA report helps me and my industry peers keep a pulse on the
evolving field of retail sustainability,” said Fred Bedore, senior director
of sustainability at Walmart and chair of RILA’s Retail Sustainability
No stranger to sustainability efforts, RILA developed the Retail Sustainability
Initiative (RSI) in 2007 and has continued to demonstrate leadership and
guidance for retailers integrating sustainability initiatives in their
strategy, operations, workforce and community involvement.
“It’s incredibly encouraging to see the collective impact the retail
industry is having on this important work,” said Kate Heiny, senior group
manager of sustainability at Target. “At Target, we look forward to
continuing to do our part, working with fellow retailers to create lasting,
The survey uncovered six significant trends, specifically that:
- Sustainability teams are growing. Most companies surveyed have full-time sustainability
teams. Teams are growing, and reporting levels are gaining seniority.
- Sustainability investment payback requirements are two-
to three-years. Most companies act on
sustainability investments that expect a two- to three-year payback.
- Breadth of sustainability activities are increasing. Companies project that the responsibilities of the
sustainability function will significantly increase in scope over the next
- Tracking of sustainability metrics will grow in
prevalence. Most retailers measure
energy, fuel, material usage, and waste generation. More than 25 percent
more retailers will begin to measure code of conduct compliance, water
usage, suppliers audited for social compliance, renewable energy
generation and chemicals of concern over the next two years.
- Three key stakeholders are applying pressure. Pressure for retail sustainability efforts is
strongest from employees, competitors and regulators.
- There are identifiable attributes of top performing
companies. Certain concrete attributes
contribute to the growth and success of a retail sustainability program.
“This report illustrates the
continuing progress that retailers are making in sustainability and
demonstrates that retailers recognize the strategic importance of becoming
leaders in sustainability across all industry,” said Jim
Thomas, vice president of sustainability, safety & environmental health for
Petco and vice-chair of RILA’s Retail Sustainability Initiative.
“RILA members are committed to implementing sustainability across their
organizations because they recognize the inherent business value that those
programs generate,” says Adam Siegel, RILA’s vice president of
sustainability & retail operations. “We are pleased to share this report
with our members and the wider community to highlight the progress they are
making and the challenges they still face.”
The report is divided into two sections: Managing Sustainability and Implementing
“Sustainability is a business imperative. This report demonstrates that
companies are developing the operational strategies and the systems and
infrastructures - personnel, metrics, goals, tracking systems, reporting, etc.
- to effectively manage and implement sustainability,” said Craig Coulter,
Ernst & Young LLP’s sustainability practice.
The first section, Managing Sustainability, outlines the structure of
sustainability teams, and companies’ investment, planning, measuring and
reporting strategies. The data showed that most respondents have full-time
sustainability teams, which have been growing in staff size over the last four
years—to keep pace with the growing breadth of responsibilities. However,
despite the growth in staff, sustainability budgets are remaining the same.
This staff growth can in part be attributed to the primary benefits that
respondents perceive as attributable to their sustainability programs, namely
reduced costs, brand enhancement and risk management.
Section two, Implementing Sustainability, discusses operational
strategies for buildings and supply chains, as well as stakeholder engagement.
Waste and energy reduction are the top facility-related improvements that
retailers are undertaking, though managing greenhouse gas emissions and water
use and building with green techniques will grow significantly over the next
two years. Supply chain improvements have focused on transportation fuel
efficiency, materials, including chemicals of concern and packaging design.
Managing all aspects of the product life cycle, from design through use and
disposal will become increasingly prevalent practices over the next two years.
Transparency remains a key trend: disclosing the social and environmental
impacts of product supply chains is a growing practice.
“These management and operational strategies are strengthening retail
businesses and positioning them for long-term success,” continued Siegel. “RILA
will continue to track the industry’s progress over time and work with our
members to uncover the greatest business value from their efforts,” Siegel
A recording of the tele-press conference will be available at 10:30 a.m. EST
Call Info: (888) 520-6981 Conference ID: 15698505
Following the tele-press conference will be a Tweetchat hosted by RILA. The
chat will be live at 1:00 p.m. EST. Participants can access the chat by
searching #RILAchat and engage with top sustainability leaders during an
interactive sustainability discussion and Q & A session.
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.