Paul Scully

Business minister Paul Scully

The UK’s Retail Sector Council (RSC) has launched a national online initiative to help small independent retailers cut their carbon footprint and become more environmentally friendly.

Led by RSC member Victoria Robertshaw and receiving ministerial support, Green Street is an informative and accessible Hub, built by retailers for retailers to encourage planet-friendly shopping.

The Hub’s launch has been jointly funded through the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the RSC, a body of around 24 retailers of all types and sizes who work together to promote and grow UK retail. It is co-chaired by former Co-op Group chief Richard Pennycook and retail minister Paul Scully.

Victoria and her colleagues are also in advanced talks with local authorities nationally to establish a physical “Green Street” that would act as an exemplar pilot scheme to help lead high street retailers towards a greener, more sustainable future. The pilot will include up to 30 retailers who will commit to implementing Green Street policies to see how they work in the real world.

They will be able to use the Green Street brand to engage customers in the need for planet-friendly shopping. Their experiences will help to inform future Green Street initiatives and formulate policy ideas to present to the government, specifically tailored around smallers and consumer needs.

Robertshaw said: “Green Street is based on real experiences, not academic theories. It’s about taking action and not simply making another pledge. Green Street has evolved over many months and there has been really helpful input from a range of experts. Additionally retailers who are already doing these things themselves have helped create a set of principles that are the spine of the guide.”

She added: “The fight against climate change can’t be underestimated and the retail sector has a huge role to play. Because retailers rely so heavily on international supply chains it’s estimated that nearly 40% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for through the retail channel.

“With just under 300,000 small and medium-sized retail owners in the UK, if everyone makes the practical changes required, it will make a massive difference. Every step taken contributes to the global fight against irreversible climate change, and the more businesses that commit to making sustainable choices, the bigger the impact not only on our planet but also on our local communities.”

Green Street already offers around 30 practical actions that SME retailers can adopt immediately grouped under six easy-to-remember principles: save energy and switch to renewables; minimise packaging; reuse and recycle; offer greener choices; work together; and share what you’ve learned.

Each principal is backed up by practical advice and tips, as well as examples and case studies where other UK retailers have already made the transition.

Pennycook, said: “Retail is a highly competitive industry, and the consumer benefits from great choice and value as a result. But when it comes to creating a more sustainable planet, the Retail Sector Council is clear that we can do great things if we cooperate and share best practice.

“Green Street is part of that, and it will be the go-to place for independent retailers to find great tips on how to run their business more sustainably and appeal to their customers, who are more and more concerned to do the right thing for the planet.”

Scully said: “This government-backed guide, launched by the Retail Sector Council, will give retail businesses the tools they need to slash their carbon footprint and build back greener from the pandemic. Not only will these changes help us meet our ambitious climate goals, but they will help businesses reduce waste and drive clean growth, allowing us to level up every part of the UK.”