UK Retail Giants Team Up to Deliver on SDGs

Over 25 major UK retailers — including Asda, The Co-operative, John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s — have signed up to a series of commitments to tackle some of the world’s most pressing social and environmental challenges of the coming decades, using the Sustainable Development Goals as a framework. Retail is one of the first industries to take a href="/news_and_views/walking_talk/sustainable_brands/apparel_retail_textile_heavy_hitters_unite_around_sdg">collective action in this way.

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Launched by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), the Better Retail Better World initiative will see retailers share knowledge and best practice and publicly disclose progress on these goals.

“This is part of a growing movement for change. It is time for the retail industry to show what it can do for the common good. We are taking collective action to build a better, more prosperous and sustainable world, and demonstrating how we are making a positive contribution to society, in terms of the supply chain, food packaging and waste,” said Richard Pennycook, Chairman of the British Retail Consortium.

“Retail is a driving force for our economy and our recently launched Retail Sector Council will seek to boost the industry’s economic health and sustainable growth,” Andrew Griffiths, Retail Minister, added. “Through our Industrial Strategy and the Good Work Plan, we have already made steps to create a stronger, fairer society and it’s encouraging to see retailers come together to fulfil these ambitions through the Better Retail, Better World initiative.

The initiative includes a series of stretch targets for the retail industry to achieve by 2020 and 2030. The goals draw on SDGs 8 (Decent Work & Economic Growth), 10 (Reduced Inequalities), 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 13 (Climate Action). The BRC will work with retailers to address human rights issues with actions such as embedding policies to eliminate recruitment fees and supporting people from underrepresented demographics progress in employment.

In addition to working to create safer, fairer working environments, the initiative also focuses on transitioning the industry to a more sustainable, less environmentally impactful model. Signatories have pledged to reduce waste sent to landfill, adopt responsible sourcing practices, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and collaborate to eliminate deforestation by 2030.

Other retailers participating in the Better Retail Better World initiative are Aldi, Baukjen Group, Boots, C&J Clarks, Debenhams, DFS, Dixons Carphone, Fenwicks, Greggs, The House of Bruar, House of Fraser, IKEA, Kingfisher, Morrisons, Musgrave Group, NEXT, Ocado, Signet, WHSMITH and Wilko.

“We are delighted to support the Better Retail Better World industry goals which provide BRC members with some of the best information and guidance to engage with the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Tanya Steele, Chief Executive of WWF. “The goals are what the SDGs are all about: bringing business, civil society and government together to bring about change in the world. Retail businesses working with consumers are key to the success of the SDGs and key in the race to restore nature.”


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