UK retailers take collective action on sustainability

The British Retail Consortium and leading UK retailers have joined forces on a new initiative aimed at boosting sustainability and fair working conditions across the industry.

Some 25 top retailers including Debenhams, House of Fraser, Clarks, John Lewis and Next, have joined the Better Retail Better World initiative, which will see the brands commit to a series of pledges using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal as framework.

Targets for 2020 include reducing waste, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation; and publicly disclosing how retailers are supporting people from underrepresented demographics to progress in employment.

The initiative will also create a policy to ensure that no worker in the supply chain should pay for a job – a practice that forces low-wage workers borrow large sums of money to cover recruitment fees, essentially putting them at risk of modern slavery.

Richard Pennycook, chairman of the British Retail Consortium, said about Better Retail Better World: “This is part of a growing movement for change. It is time for the retail industry to show what it can do for the common good. We are taking collective action to build a better, more prosperous and sustainable world, and demonstrating how we are making a positive contribution to society, in terms of the supply chain, food packaging, and waste.”

The initiative was launched at an event in Parliament on Tuesday, attended by leading industry figures, government representatives, and campaigners. It follows the launch of  the first industry-led Retail Sector Council last week.

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