The 2014 Retail Sustainability Conference opened this morning with a keynote
address from Best Buy Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly focusing on the
changes he is seeing in the retail environment and his vision for the industry’s
The seventh annual
conference—which is run by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) and
attracts more than 80 of the largest retail brands—connects industry executives
with their peers to discuss emerging trends and successful strategies for
strategically reducing the environmental impact of the industry. This year,
based on the theme of the future of retail, the event features a new format
designed to drive discussion on issues impacting retailers now and those that
will affect it in the future.
During his keynote,
Best Buy Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly discussed the importance of
sustainability in retail and how Best Buy is embracing that. The retailer has
recycled more than 1 billion pounds of consumer electronics and large appliances
since 2009 and aims to recycle an additional 2 billion pounds by 2020.
"Sustainability cannot and should not be an afterthought or a PR
focused approach," Joly said. "Sustainability must be an
essential element of everything the company does."
sustainability non-profit Forum for the Future, followed up the address with the
unveiling of the Retail Horizons project, a year-long collaborative work which
is designed to support the industry’s drive to sustainability. Retail Horizons
provides retailers with the tools they need to take action to safeguard their
future, protect our environment, and improve the lives of their customers,
workers, and suppliers.
“We treat 2025
or 2030 as though they were just around the corner — and encourage our partners
to do the same, so that they can take meaningful action to ensure a viable,
thriving long-term future for themselves and their industries,” says
Helen Clarkson, Director, Forum for the Future US. “Retail in the US
already has been undergoing huge shifts in recent years. The shift to online and
mobile commerce, peer-to-peer networking, the rise of sharing models, the makers
movement: are these here to stay, or just passing fads? We strongly encourage
retailers to use the Retail Horizons toolkit to find out what these trends might
mean for them and how they might help or hinder their long-term
success,” Clarkson concluded.
Sponsored by Target
and Unilever, Retail Horizons is the culmination of a year-long collaboration
between retail and consumer product brands. It includes several deliverables,
the most notable of which is a toolkit that can help retailers to identify new
ideas and source sustainable innovations.
“At Target, we
believe investing in the ongoing well-being of our guests, team, shareholders
and communities is the ultimate definition of a sustainable business,”
said Kate Heiny, senior group manager, Sustainability, Target. “Today’s
Sustainability Conference and our participation in Retail Horizons reinforces
our belief in the importance of collaboration across the industry as we focus on
driving innovation around sustainability at Target.”
long used futures thinking and scenario tools to help us as we plan for the
future. We are able to identify risks and opportunities, which ultimately
assists our organization in developing growth strategies and inspires
innovation. This project has deepened our understanding of the futures thinking
process and will enable us to move forward with sharper focus and
purpose,” said Jonathan Atwood, Vice President, Unilever, Sustainable
Living and Corporate Communications, North America.
More than 50 retail
and consumer product brands participated in Retail Horizons. Some provided
leadership and direction; others lent their expertise about retail,
sustainability and other key trends. CVS and Sears co-chaired the
glad to be one of the co-chairs in the leadership team for this project. In that
role, we were able to provide guidance and learn from the breadth of companies
involved,” said Todd Troldahl, Division Vice President
Sustainability/Green Leadership and Packaging/Floor Ready Services.
“This project is the result of a year-long collaboration. It began by
identifying the trends that are driving change in the industry, then building
stories of the industry’s potential futures, and finally creating a toolkit to
make our findings actionable and help align environmental and social impacts
with the operational excellence of our business.”
Health, sustainability is innovation—innovation that helps people on their path
to better health, which includes having a healthy community. The Retail
Horizons project is an invaluable way for retailers to engage in conversation to
drive new innovations and identify those that may work, given an uncertain
future. I am excited about the work completed, and the work yet to be
done,” said Pat Perry, director at CVS Health.
been a part of RILA’s Retail Sustainability Initiative from its beginning eight
years ago. This community provides a great opportunity to exchange ideas with
peers and to continue advancing our sustainability program,” said
Michael Chenard, Lowe’s director of corporate sustainability. “Lowe's
understands we have an opportunity to stay ahead of changing customer
expectations, and the Retail Horizons program has provided us with a crucial
tool to align our sustainability and innovation efforts with the industry’s
Horizons program and the associated toolkit will provide sustainability
executives with an opportunity to inspire cross-disciplinary conversations about
the future of the industry and chart a course for how brands can capitalize on
these changes to continue to meet consumer demand,” said Adam Siegel,
Vice President of Sustainability and Compliance for RILA.
Following the launch,
attendees were invited to get to grips with the Retail Horizons toolkit,
exploring one of four future scenarios to practice using the toolkit and develop
“future-proof” strategies for their own organizations.
Additionally, the conference features several short,
high-energy “microsessions.” These are based on a range of thought-provoking
topics, providing opportunities to hear from thought leaders.
that when we couple a product like the Retail Horizons project with the
best-in-class programming featured each year at this conference, amplified with
the addition of micro-sessions, our attendees are primed to make real progress
on the sustainability challenges facing the industry, raising the bar for all
retailers. It is a special privilege to put this event together and to set the
stage for meaningful conversation aimed at meeting the future with open
arms,” Siegel continued.
To view the Retail
Horizons materials, visit www.rila.org/future or download the media kit.
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Industry Leaders Association (RILA) is the trade association for 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.
Sustainability Initiative (RSI) engages retail sustainability executives to
share practices, develop new processes, and communicate their efforts to the
industry’s most crucial stakeholders. RILA uses its annual conference, benchmark
studies, collaborative partnerships, and research on behalf of retail
sustainability interests to help our members learn and develop their
for the Future
Forum for the
Future is an independent non-profit that works globally with business,
government and others to solve complex sustainability challenges. We believe it
is critical to transform the key systems we rely on to shape a brighter future
and innovate for long-term success.
We have a 18-year track record of working in
partnership with pioneering partners; advising and challenging organizations
such as Unilever, Pepsico, Skanska, Akzo Nobel and Telefonica
Find out more at
http://www.forumforthefuture.org/ and find us on Facebook and