The second day of the Retail Industry Leaders Association's (RILA) 2014 Retail Sustainability Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota provided attendees with the opportunity to take part in one of several off site activities, touring the 3M Innovation Center or Target Field, home of Major League Baseball's Minnesota Twins. Those opting stay behind could take part in one of two development workshops focused on either communicating the value of sustainability throughout an organization or innovation strategies for tackling sustainability problems—using the "Mindspark" process hosted by representatives from Gap, Inc.
"It was an honor to host retailers from RILA's conference at our Innovation Center. At 3M, innovation is the core of sustainability. Retail and consumer product companies alike need to innovate to remain relevant to our consumers and reduce our impact on the environment. Sustainability and the long-term health of our industry go hand-in-hand," said Michele L. Whyle, Global Head of Sustainability & Quality, 3M Consumer Business Group.
Prior to the tours, the second day opened with presentations from Jeffrey Hollender, co-founder and former chief executive of Seventh Generation, and Jason Clay, senior vice president at World Wildlife Fund.
The afternoon continued the conference's focus on the future of the retail industry, by returning to the Retail Horizons project, which launched Tuesday through a partnership between RILA and Forum for the Future that was supported by Target and Unilever. Retail Horizons was designed to help retailers develop innovate through sustainability, proactively adapting to emerging trends around the globe. The project is designed to provide retailers the tools they need to take action to safeguard their future, protect our environment, and improve the lives of their customers, workers, and suppliers.
During the Wednesday session, Forum for the Future provided attendees with an opportunity to gain experience using the futures toolkits and hear from businesses who have already begun the process of preparing for what's next.
"It isn't enough to provide the Retail Horizons toolkit developed this year," said Adam Siegel, Vice President of Sustainability and Compliance at RILA. "We wanted to be sure to empower retail executives, providing them an opportunity to learn how to use it firsthand so that they can take those lessons back to their offices to drive change—and to realize a more sustainable future that takes better care of the planet while providing the service that is the hallmark of the industry."
To view the Retail Horizons materials, visit www.rila.org/future or download the media kit.
For attendees looking to remain current on environmental compliance issues and their impact on the retail industry, the afternoon provided significant opportunities, including several sessions on a variety of compliance and energy management topics.
Afternoon sessions included discussions on end-of-life product stewardship and retailer sponsored recycling, the next generation of energy solutions, managing air emissions and the various regulatory structures, corporate carbon reporting, transparency in retail value chains, employee buy in for sustainability initiatives, change in the recycling value chain, sustainability practices and construction and the importance of retailer-manufacturer collaboration in the development of sustainable products.
The day concluded with a final round of microsessions on the new realities of retail featuring presentations and insight from Julie Krueger, the Retail Industry Director for Google, Inc. and a separate session featuring visual storyteller Arlene Birt leading a discussion on how to help audiences connect with sustainable initiatives.
"At the Retail Sustainability Conference, no matter your interests or background, there are opportunities to learn, to grow and to expose yourself to new ideas," Siegel continued. "Those opportunities are what bring people here and what keeps them coming back. Our hope is that the conversations that happen here drive real change toward a sustainable future."
About the Retail Industry Leaders Association
The Retail 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.
RILA's Retail 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 programs.