Stuart Barker, Portfolio Director for IRX (InternetRetailing Expo), discusses how retailers can ensure a firm focus on sustainability.

Sustainability is truly the watchword of our times. With many customers keen to find ways to include more climate-friendly practices in their lives, retailers are turning their attention to delivering greener options and information.

The answer lies in enabling customers to make informed product choices as Nigel Blunt, Sainsbury’s Group eCommerce Director and speaker at the conference within IRX, explains. “We’re introducing information on our product labels which includes important sustainability details, such as sourcing. Our cotton comes from sustainable sources and it’s important that customers making considered, environmentally-friendly purchases are aware of this.”

Other planet friendly practices introduced across the business include the introduction of reusable produce bags in Sainsbury’s to replace single use plastic bags for fruit and veg sold in store. Partner company Argos is taking significant steps to reduce plastics and packaging and is promoting its collection of Tupperware to encourage consumers to store food in reusable packaging. As one of the UK’s leading digital retailers, with more than 60,000 products online, Argos is also offering customers the option to Click and Collect from their local Sainsbury’s store, thereby reducing the mileage that customer has to travel to collect their online order.

What drives these environmentally-friendly measures? Nigel Blunt explains: “The reason for doing it is because it is doing the right thing for people and the planet. It’s not about cost-saving.”

Doing the right thing is also an important value for Santiago Navarro, founder of Garçon Wines and speaker at the ‘Warehousing & Fulfilment’ track at the conference within IRX. Says Santiago: “Sustainability is fundamental to everything we do.”

Garçon Wines has created an eco, flat wine bottle made of 100% recycled PET pre-existing rather than single-use plastic. The bottle is modelled on the traditional wine shape, but is flat, resembling a cross section of the regular bottle, meaning it’s much more cost-effective, eco-friendly and spatially-efficient. The aim, says Santiago, is to cut the sector’s CO2 emissions and lower delivery and logistics costs, as well as to turn existing plastic back into something useful: “The round glass wine bottle is an old-fashioned vessel. I wanted to create a bottle that’s fit for purpose in a 21st century world – one that’s beautiful, light-weight, strong and sustainable.”

The result? A bottle that’s 100% recycled and 100% recyclable. Being plastic, instead of glass, it doesn’t require as much protective packaging and can be packed efficiently. One such example is Garçon Wines’ 10 flat bottle case, where 10 flat bottles pack into a space that would otherwise fit just four traditionally-shaped bottles, enabling significant spatial efficiency for a wide range of applications, including ecommerce. Each bottle is 87% lighter than the average, saves more than 500g of CO2 across the supply chain and reduces the cost of freight. 

Santiago concludes: “Thanks to our innovative wine packaging, we’re improving convenience and functionality, cutting logistics costs, and slashing greenhouse gas emissions to enable happier consumers and, most importantly, a healthier planet.”

IRX (InternetRetailing Expo) – the UK’s no. 1 digital retail show – takes place 1 & 2 April 2020 at the NEC, Birmingham. It’s free to register at internetretailingexpo.com

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