Sustainability is without doubt one of the key discussions and talking points that has come out of the pandemic and there is no doubt retailers want to play their part. Choose products to sell that have greater sustainable credibility, and look at equipment that is eco friendly whether that is lighting and refrigeration to ways of developing plastic free recyclable dispensing of product.
But what about our stores being a point for recycling. We are seeing this in Scotland and across Europe but in reality this uses a lot of space, adds more cost than revenue, and backhauling of recycled product is difficult, so feedback on this is mixed. In reality this depends upon a number of factors the main ones being space and location. In its simplest form if you don’t have space for a machine and back of store storage what can you do. Small stores cannot handle this.
Where there is space that’s a different story but depends upon your demographics. We have seen in Scandinavia where their sustainable credentials as a society are probably better than ours that when the store is located in a nice area, yummy mummies are coming in with their recycling and while there topping up on essentials such as Avocado and Humus. The cost of dealing with the recycling is far out weighed by the increased footfall and basket spend.
But this changes when you enter into a more challenging demographic. In Norway it was soon seen that people on the street would collect cans and bottles from the street and fill bags and trolleys with recyclable material, this certainly helped clean the streets. The issue for retailers became apparent when these guys came into store with such large volumes for their Krone per bottle.
So what’s the conclusion? We want to help and do our bit, we are working with suppliers and shopfitters to become ever more sustainable, but let us choose what is right for us and our customers, we are all in this together.