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Sustainable initiatives help retailers save money

March 16, 2012 Written by  Canadian Garden Centre & Nursery
Mar. 16, 2012, Toronto — Canadian retailers who adopt sustainable business practices are differentiating themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace and also significantly reducing their costs, according to a new report released by RBC and the Retail Council of Canada (RCC).

"Retailers profiled in this report demonstrate that sustainable leadership doesn't need to be a huge endeavour and that, by taking the first step, they can create real change," said Andrea Bolger, head of RBC's Business Financial Services. "Making a commitment to sustainable business strategies has very tangible bottom line rewards and can help mitigate environmental risks."

The report, entitled Re-envisioning Retail, highlights the risks and opportunities associated with environmental sustainability. Retailers who have implemented sustainable business practices and have benefited from greater efficiency and productivity, improved employee retention and enhanced brand reputation are profiled in the report.

"Successful retailers re-envision themselves constantly; they must change as quickly as the world does," said Diane J. Brisebois, president and CEO of RCC. "Sustainability is now a necessity.This report illustrates the different ways retailers are evolving to do what is required and provides leadership to those who are looking for ways to improve their efforts."

"We want retailers to move beyond a 'compliance' mind-set to viewing environmental sustainability as an integral part of their business strategy," added Bolger. "By greening their operations they have the opportunity to realize incredible business value."

Retail industry leaders' sustainability initiatives profiled in Re-envisioning Retail include:
  • Canadian Tire: Implemented hundreds of sustainability initiatives over the last two years, from lighting retrofits to efficiency improvements in product transport, saving the retailer approximately $6 million
.
  • Home Depot Canada: Created a program that gives Canadian manufacturers the opportunity to pitch innovative, environmentally sustainable products. By supporting great ideas, the retailer hopes to help transform the market by ensuring that sustainable products are always on their store shelves.

  • Sears Canada: Replaced more than 116,000 incandescent lights in all of its Sears Home and full-line stores across Canada, making it the first Canadian retailer to install an LED retrofit. This resulted in a 75 per cent annual reduction in energy consumption and two-year payback on investment.
  • 
Unilever: Conducted lifecycle analysis (LCA) on more than 1,600 of its household products and found that 68 per cent of its green house gas (GHG) emissions occur from consumers' use of their products. The retailer hopes to empower 200 million consumers to improve their own environment footprints and help reduce GHG emissions by 2015.

  • Walmart Canada: Commissioned an assessment of its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and energy systems at over 200 stores, resulting in adjustment changes that created a 20 per cent increase in energy efficiency and will provide a payback on investment of less than three years.

  • Whole Foods: Targeted April 2012 as the date when all ingredients will be listed on the packages of all household cleaning products that they sell, to enable their consumers to make greener, healthier choices. Household cleaners that do not meet minimum standards will be removed from store shelves.
Copies of the Re-envisioning Retail report are available on the RBC Commercial Advice Centre at www.rbc.com/business-advice and on the Retail Council of Canada's website at www.retailcouncil.org.

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