Buyers 'key to sustainability' at retail firms

21 September 2009

22 September 2009 | Jake Kanter

Procurement is enjoying growing influence over sustainability efforts at some of Europe's biggest retailers, a study by Forum for the Future has found.

The sustainable development charity interviewed senior executives at companies including Tesco, Subway and Metro Group, and found buyers are increasingly leading efforts to reduce carbon emissions, particularly in food supply chains and the purchase of water.

Retailers are demanding suppliers of own-brand products and other well-known consumer goods improve their impact on the environment, it found.

Shannon Carr-Shand, sustainability adviser at Forum for the Future, said: "Leaders are more likely to impose strict sustainability criteria on their supply chains and consider the indirect, as well as the direct, impacts of their services. They are also more willing to take the lead with their consumers, supplying more sustainable products."

The report continued that while supermarkets are making "significant" progress on sourcing sustainable fish and certified palm oil, but added companies are failing to improve in other areas such as packaging.

As reported, Sainsbury's won the best contribution to corporate responsibility at this year's CIPS Supply Management Awards for its project to prevent food waste going to landfill (Web news, 10 September).

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