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The Green Revolution in Retail

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Mannu Mathew
Mannu Mathew
With over four years of experience, Mannu Mathew specializes in business journalism with a focus on technology, the retail sector, D2C, and E-commerce brands. He is working as the Assistant Editor for India Retailing and Images Retail Magazine.

A look at the different initiatives taken by players in the retail ecosystem to reduce their carbon footprint

New Delhi: The retail industry accounts for over 25% of carbon emissions with a majority of this occurring in the retail value chain, as per Normative, a carbon accounting software solutions firm that helps reduce carbon footprint.

Data from Normative adds that the retail supply chain accounts for up to 98% of total emissions. These include emissions during transit and logistics operations, mainly due to the usage of vehicles running on non-renewable energy.

While retailers in the industry try different methods for a low carbon approach, a whopping $9.2 trillion in annual average spending would be required to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, a report by McKinsey Sustainability stated.

By 2070, clean energy, which is a crucial factor in operations, needs radical tech transformations for transition to net-zero, the International Energy Agency (IEA), a Paris-based intergovernmental organisation stated.

Packaging and plastic usage is another culprit that contributes to massive carbon emissions. Experts cite that 94% of plastics are recyclable, whereas India only recycles about 60%, with the rest being used in landfills or discarded in water bodies. As a result, sustainability in packaging is becoming increasingly crucial.

Here’s what different retailers are doing to reduce their carbon footprint.

Myntra

Bengaluru-based e-commerce marketplace Myntra takes various steps to ensure a reduced carbon footprint.

A company spokesperson tells IndiaRetailing that two of the largest fulfilment centres, located in Bilaspur and Bhiwandi, have installed rooftop solar systems to help reduce annual carbon footprint.

These centres cater to the largest chunk of Myntra’s orders every day.  Additionally, Myntra has installed solar panels at its headquarters in Bengaluru, generating 15% of office electricity from green energy.

Data from the company also added that it has successfully implemented 100% plastic-free packaging in its entire supply chain.

The company has also introduced sustainable alternatives for packaging and delivery, such as recycled paper bags, bubble wraps with carton waste shredded material and plastic adhesives tapes with paper tapes, polybags used for attaching customer invoices with a recycled Kraft paper pouch and RFID-tagged multi-use polyester bags.

Myntra was among the first e-commerce players in India to partner with Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), a global non-profit organisation to source 10% of cotton for renowned brands, the spokesperson added.

Myntra has also partnered with Canopy, a not-for-profit environmental organization, for sustainable alternatives such as eco-friendly paper shreds, replacing poly pouches and bubble wraps to conserve forests.

The company has various brands in its portfolio like Taavi, Roadster, Sangria, and Anouk that use eco-friendly and ethically sourced raw materials in their products.

UB City – The Collection

Luxury Shopping destination UB City in Bengaluru engages its tenants to pursue sustainable habits and focuses on research and adoption to develop green technology.

Despite the heavy cost involved in transitioning to 100% green energy, it focuses on the long-term benefits resulting in lower operational costs and reduced carbon impact. In addition, it also supports eco-friendly transportation and has electric vehicle charging stations.

UB City actively advocates less plastic use and uses alternatives | Image Credit: UB City

“We’re steadfast in our pursuit of a zero-emission approach,” said Uzma Irfan, Director, UB City.

“Our commitment extends to creating an opulent shopping experience with a minimal carbon footprint, aligning luxury with environmental responsibility, and embracing a holistic approach to zero emissions in our upscale retail destinations,” Irfan added.

For UB City, waste management is also a top priority. This is achieved by recycling, diverting materials from landfills and regular trash audits.

It actively advocates less plastic use and uses alternatives such as compostable packaging and reusable containers in collaboration with vendors. In addition, clear signs educate customers on eco-friendly options.

FNP

The Gifting chain formerly known as Ferns N Petals also works towards a sustainable gifting approach and reducing the impact on the environment.

As per the data shared by the company, the company has seen a 15% increase in sales for the sustainable segment this year.

“We have also shifted towards digital gifting that acts as a new mindful approach,” said Udyat Gutgutia, Director, Category, Ferns N Petals.

“Physical items that come with carbon footprint due to manufacturing and shipping can be replaced with digital gifts such as e-books, gift cards, spa vouchers, concert tickets and other online experiences leaving behind a significantly smaller environmental impact,” Gutgutia added.

FNP has witnessed a 100% rise in the digital gifting category, the company said.  This includes video messages from beloved celebrities/ personalities that convey cheery greetings. FNP aims to grow its e-presents portfolio with recently introduced services such as Guitarist-On-Call, Violinist-On-Call and Poets-On-Call.

Domino’s Pizza

Domino’s Pizza operated in India by Noida-based food service company Jubilant FoodWorks has been using electric bikes in delivery since 2021.

The pizza chain has partnered with Revolt Motors which offers customised bikes for its business needs and zero-emission deliveries.

Data from Dominos also reveals that the company’s electric vehicle (EV) fleet is growing rapidly in the US and claims to be the largest electric pizza delivery fleet in the country.

“We’re continuing to see a wide range of advantages from using EVs,” said Joe Jordan, Domino’s president, U.S. and global services.

Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail (ABFRL)

Fashion retailer ABFRL aims at net-zero emissions with scientific precision. According to data from the company, it produces over 22 lakh units of solar energy which leads to a reduction of over 1,721 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

A look at the different initiatives taken by players in the retail ecosystem to reduce their carbon footprint
Aditya Birla Yarn actively sources 73% of its material consumption from renewable raw materials. | Image Credit: Aditya Birla

This company aims to significantly reduce its emissions by 2025 with the help of initiatives like renewable energy adoption, energy efficiency, and carbon mitigation.

At least 73% of Aditya Birla Yarn’s material consumption is sourced from renewable raw materials such as cellulosic fibre, recycled polyester, and BCI cotton, while over 90% of its packaging is made from recycled materials.

Amazon 

Amazon had saved 97,222 metric tonnes of single-use plastic in 2021, according to a report by digital solutions provider Empower India. Furthermore, the data reveals that Amazon continues to reduce packaging waste and increase recyclability.

The company introduced 100% biodegradable paper tape to seal and secure outbound customer shipments. Amazon uses machine learning algorithms to determine the suitability of flexible packaging, resulting in packaging that is up to 90% lighter than similar-sized boxes.

Flipkart

As per the Empower India report, Flipkart is close to eliminating all single-use plastic packaging in its Indian fulfilment centres and has introduced scalable sustainable alternatives such as eco-friendly paper shreds, replacing poly pouches with recycled paper bags, replacing bubble wraps with carton waste shredded material and 2 Ply roll to name a few. Flipkart’s Smart Packaging approach also focuses on right-sizing and minimizing packaging waste.

Baskin Robbins

American ice cream and cake chain Baskin Robbins has substantially reduced the carbon footprint by actively cutting down on the use of single-use plastics in parlours, the company stated.

Mohit Khattar, CEO, Graviss Food Pvt. Ltd.- Baskin Robbins said the company has been working towards increasing the share of power generated through renewable means.

“We also treat our effluents converting them into usable water for our horticulture requirements and also working towards reduced usage of paper and fuel,” Khattar added.

Logistics players doing their bit to reduce carbon footprint

Players in the retail supply chain are continuously striving to transition to an efficient and sustainable mode of delivery.

Logistics major Blue Dart was able to reduce its carbon emissions by 42% from the baseline of 2007 and is moving towards achieving net zero by 2050 according to the performance highlights of the company.  It is also committed to contributing to the mission of reducing emissions to below 29 million tonnes by 2030 along with continued business growth.

A look at the different initiatives taken by players in the retail ecosystem to reduce their carbon footprint
Companies are focusing on areas such as the electrification of pickup and delivery vehicles | Image Credit: Pixabay

German logistic company DHL uses 86% of electricity from renewable sources and has completed over 100 million last-mile deliveries with EVs, as per data from the company.

American transport company FedEx, in July this year, launched a new tool called FedEx Sustainability Insights (FSI) that gives customers in India access to emission information on their shipments.

According to the company, it also focuses on areas such as the electrification of FedEx pickup and delivery vehicles; more efficient facilities, fuels, and fleets; and investments in natural carbon capture. In 2021, the company pledged $100 million to help establish the Yale Center for Natural Carbon Capture, where researchers will focus on removing and storing Earth’s excess carbon.

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