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In 2012 the Centre for Retail Research issued a report on Retail Ethics and Green Retailing*.  One of their key findings was that “Green Retailers need Green Customers”.  Essentially it doesn’t matter whether retailers choose to go green for ethical reasons, for operational reasons or to gain a commercial advantage; their efforts will be in vain if they don’t take their customers with them.

This may not be a particularly hard journey as although the report warned of shoppers being cynical over “greenwash” it went on to say that customers are increasingly choosing green or ethical products.  It is true that between 2009 and 2010 sales of organic produce fell, perhaps as a result of the recession, but in contrast sales of environmentally sustainable and Fairtrade products have risen. The Co-operative Bank Ethical Consumerism Report 2011 actually reported a growth in the UK ethical market (including insurance and travel) from £1.3b in 1999 to £46.8b in 2010.

The Centre for Retail Research Report does highlight the fact that “if retailers are to cut their carbon footprints, be more ethical and green(er), they need to intervene at all stages of the product lifecycle.”  We were therefore delighted to receive a Green Apple Award entry from one shopping centre which was taking steps to help all of its retailers to reduce their environmental impact.

Under the slogan “bigger steps – smaller footprints” the Clyde Shopping Centre aimed to reduce its carbon footprint, landfill waste and power usage.  Key to the success of this project was a member of the security staff who volunteered to be an environmental monitor for a year.  Initiatives such as regular communication with tenants, promoting recycling and energy savings, and introducing a waste management system all helped to make a difference to the eco-footprint.

As part of the initiative the Clyde Shopping Centre held monthly reviews and looked at all of their systems and practices to identify cost savings.  For example, changing cleaner’s hours to finish by 8pm and introducing timers to ensure that lights and curtain heaters were switched off after this time made a considerable difference to energy consumption.

Overall in the period 2009/10-2011/12 the Clyde Shopping Centre managed an impressive:

ü  40.1% reduction in energy consumption

ü  Landfill diversion in excess of 90%

ü  28.55% reduction in carbon footprint.

The Centre’s work is ongoing with further initiatives planned as well as work leading towards ISO14001 certification.  The Clyde Shopping Centre were therefore worthy winners of a Green Apple Award.

*http://www.retailresearch.org/retailethics.php