Today, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) opened its 2015 Retail Sustainability Conference in Austin, Texas. Now in its eighth year, the conference connects the best and brightest in retail sustainability and environmental compliance for unique education experiences, special guest speakers, and networking opportunities. This year's programming was designed along three focus areas: sustainability, environmental compliance, and energy management.
Unilever's President of North America, Kees Kruythoff, delivered the conference opening keynote address, sharing insights on Unilever's efforts to double the size of its business, reduce its environmental footprint, and increase its positive social impact.
"Kees Kruythoff's experience leading one of the world's most sustainable consumer brands positioned him well to speak to our audience. He was able to illustrate the important role companies can play in sustainability and his address set the tone for what attendees can expect for the remainder of the conference," said Adam Siegel, RILA vice president of sustainability and compliance.
Following the conference opening, RILA hosted offsite tours of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Dell Children's Medical Center, leaders in landscape preservation and energy conservation, respectively. In addition, attendees were offered an interactive workshop on leadership development from Scott Snook of the Harvard Business School.
Today's impact sessions featured speaker Kristin Fitzgerald of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)'s Office of Resource Conservation & Recovery, Material Recovery & Waste Management Division discussing highlights of the EPA's proposed pharmaceuticals rule, which has potential implications for hazardous waste management practices in the retail sector.
Throughout the afternoon, attendees had opportunities for several flash talks with industry leaders on diverse topics including changing compliance trends, chemicals management, and leadership's view of sustainability.
Day one of the conference concluded with a networking reception in The Spark, the new exhibit hall with Hub areas and meeting spaces for attendees to connect and meet with flash talk speakers from earlier in the day. Throughout the week, visitors of The Spark will also have the opportunity to demo the new Center for Retail Compliance website, a resource for retailers to consult on all things environmental compliance-related, including state-by-state laws and regulations, best practices, and more.
Also today, RILA launched its third Retail Sustainability Report, a tool that summarizes retailers' current progress alo ng the RILA Retail Sustainability Management Maturity Model. This tool provides companies an opportunity to benchmark their programs against the industry, and track the industry's future priorities.
"This year's conference is off to a great start. We look forward to more informed discussions educational programming in the days to come," added Siegel.
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.