Why sustainability is changing retail businesses

Consumer sustainability focus will change the way retailers do business, according to Mark Childs, Senior Retail Consultant at digital services pioneer Capgemini.

The explosion in concern over plastic use has been impossible to miss in 2018 as public scrutiny of plastic waste and its widespread usage has reached mainstream consciousness.

“Within our industry, the problem of plastics has gone from an environmental niche to a subject that is firmly on the agenda of retailers and suppliers alike,” says Childs.

“A recent Greenpeace study found that 72% of consumers think supermarkets are not doing enough about packaging to tackle the plastic problem. As we enter 2019, the expectation for all retailers to develop a solution will only intensify, and the increasing sustainability awareness will require businesses to revisit their environmental goals and timelines.

“Retailers will need to more closely align their sustainability strategies with consumer expectations and sentiment. We’ll see efforts from retailers to adopt consistent packaging standards to simplify recycling, reduced usage of non-recyclable materials, an increased focus on data-driven forecasting to avoid wastage and retailers promoting cleaner living to satisfy the rise in consumer health consciousness.

“As consumers become more aware of their impact, the opportunity for brands who can move beyond satisfying sustainability expectations to driving tangible positive environmental contributions will become clear.”

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