No longer an abstract conservation designed to appeal to changing consumer tastes, sustainability has in the past year become a serious endeavor for retailers. With 60 percent of consumers across all generations saying they’re willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact, retailers like Levi’s, IKEA, and Lush are taking steps to reduce water use, increase their use of renewable materials, and remove the need for packaging respectively.
Today, many retail corporations expect their suppliers to adhere to modern sustainability standards. The expectations go far beyond the first-tier suppliers, with companies aiming to create sustainable practices in the entire supply chain. Some of the benefits of a sustainable supply chain include improved productivity, cost savings, and increased efficiencies.
A typical retailer’s supply chain accounts for more than 80 percent of its greenhouse gas emissions. And it isn’t only the environment that’s feeling the effects. Without a sustainable supply chain in the retail industry, for instance, a company’s profits can be affected by things like climate-change related disasters.
To achieve a sustainable supply chain for retail, companies must address social, economic, and environmental concerns across the entire supply chain. This can be accomplished by adopting socially responsible business practices that are good for the planet and its inhabitants. By reducing waste and their environmental footprint, retailers see:
The extra effort involved in building a sustainable supply chain is a high-payback investment in both economical and non-economical ways.
In the retail sector, adopting a circular economy helps reduce environmental and financial costs throughout the supply chain. By closing the supply chain loop through initiatives like turning waste to value wherever possible, retailers can achieve financial advantages such as:
One of the biggest challenges retailers face is uncovering the best way to incorporate a closed loop supply chain strategy while putting waste to future practical purposes. They also face growing pressures from consumers who expect them to mitigate the harmful social and environmental impact their conventional supply chains are having.
Consumers are also focusing on things like transparency and ethical consumption. Retailers find themselves needing to pay closer attention to sustainably sourced labor and materials so they can present as more human-centric to their customers. A great example of this are the Fairtrade Foundation campaigns which are focused on improving environmental and working standards for those at the beginning of the supply chain. Many of the world’s largest brands have already committed to using only sustainably-sourced materials.
UBQ recognizes the urgent need to reduce global warming levels. We believe a zero-waste approach is one of the best ways to reduce emissions and accelerate the transition to a circular economy. UBQ material is a climate-positive thermoplastic that can be used in many manufacturing applications, creating products with reduced carbon footprints. Our pilot industrial plant already supplies UBQ material to manufacturers who use it to produce climate-positive food trays for McDonalds and other products like designer furniture, waste carts, and flooring.
While it will undoubtedly take some time for retailers to change their behaviors, sustainability is destined to remain a priority for the sector and other industries. The benefits to closing the supply chain loop and adopting a circular economy model are too significant for retailers to pass up. As the world’s industries advance sustainability goals to meet the 17 SDGs “2030 Agenda,” retailers will continue to identify the solutions that best fit their specific supply chain strategy.