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Supporting sustainability in the UK’s convenience stores

Supporting sustainability in the UK’s convenience storesSunday, 17 May, 2020


woman in a convenience store

Energy Saving Trust is providing the data and consultancy behind a sustainability project for the 46,000+ independent convenience retailers in the UK. Led by Lucozade Ribena Suntory (LRS) and supported by Hanover Communications, the project aims to help retailers understand how they can become more sustainable. As convenience stores look for new ways to continue to grow their own businesses, it’s important for them to not only manage their overheads, but also understand how they can help the planet at the same time.

The project will focus on one specific retailer, Amit Patel from the Premier Convenience store in Sandiacre, Nottinghamshire. Together, we made an initial visit to the store to meet Amit and undertake a site audit. Following the installation of smart metering in order to measure and monitor the store’s energy consumption, Energy Saving Trust’s Insight and Analytics team gained a detailed understanding of the possible sustainability measures that could be viable.

The project team will identify potential ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, improve the sustainability of Amit’s store and possibly save money, as well as having a positive impact on his community. Our recommendations will range from small, low cost measures and behavioural changes, to larger, more expensive improvements to energy using equipment and lighting.

Throughout 2020 and beyond, Energy Saving Trust will capture data on energy and cost savings, and LRS will be implementing behavioural changes for Amit and his store staff, to help build up a simple and understandable picture of how other stores can start their own sustainability journey.

We will be able to track the impact of the energy saving measures by monitoring the smart metering in place. Each sustainability initiative will form a case study, which LRS will publish in retailers’ trade magazines. The campaign aims to reach a circulation of 186,655 readers in similar stores through these magazines.

The project will culminate in a round table event with other independent retailers, where LRS, Amit and Energy Saving Trust’s team will speak about how the retail sector can become more sustainable.

Reducing carbon emissions in the supply chain

LRS has already taken steps to reduce its environmental impact by using 100% recycled plastic in its Ribena bottles, launching a plan to eliminate packaging wastage throughout the production processes, and consolidating distribution centres to reduce unnecessary mileage and save around 1,500 tonnes of CO2 per year.

However, for most businesses, the majority of their environmental impact comes from their supply chains. CDP, which operates a global environmental reporting initiative, estimates that business’ supply chain emissions are on average five times greater than their operational emissions. With this project, LRS turns its attention further down the supply chain, to the many independent retailers that sell its drinks.

Large companies like LRS have thousands of suppliers that they deal with directly, who in turn have many of their own suppliers. Therefore, by driving sustainability in the supply chain, be it through awareness raising via projects like this one, or by enforcing minimum standards through its procurement rules, LRS could have a positive influence on a large number of businesses, leading to significant cumulative benefits.

While the impact of the changes proposed in Amit’s store might seem modest when compared to the scale of the climate crisis, imagine the potential impact if all other retailers took similar action. We’re looking forward to finding out what one independent store can do.

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