BRC calls for increased technologies in sustainability data collection

A study analysing the sustainability of the UK retail industry via British Retail Consortium (BRC) members has found that 87% of retailers still collect sustainability data manually.

Although 85% of major retailers surveyed outlined sustainability as a business driver, and 72% have a roadmap to go beyond minimum compliance, the study, ‘The Imperative to Act: Advancing Sustainability Maturity within the UK Retail Industry’ by management and technology consulting firm, BearingPoint, identified four opportunities for UK retail:

• Accelerate investment in data and technology. The BRC has said that retailers haven’t yet invested in data and technology to drive sustainability reporting, with 87% relying on collecting sustainability data, such as Scope 3 emissions, manually.

• Incorporate long-term risks and ESG macro trends into strategy. Almost half (43%) of retailers were not yet considering the impacts of future ESG macro trends (within a 10/20/30 year timeframe) on their organisation’s strategy. Almost 74% lack tools for simulating the effects of sustainability related changes.

• Collaborate with external stakeholders to ensure accountability and transparency. Retailers are collaborating with suppliers, but although over two thirds have taken steps to communicate the sustainability of their products, almost half were unable to state the percentage of revenue that comes from sustainable produces/services.

• Recognise the role of employees in driving sustainability. Retailers are not yet realising the benefits of driving employee buy-in. Around three quarters had no link between the achievement of sustainability targets and remuneration. Almost two thirds provided no training or “merely basic awareness” training to employees outside of the core sustainability team.

‘Vitally important’

Stuart Higgins, partner at BearingPoint said: “Our study shows that there are significant opportunities for UK retail to become a more sustainable industry. It’s vitally important for retailers to recognise the role of employees in really driving change across the organisation – not just relying on the core sustainability team to do this.”

Tracey Banks, climate action roadmap manager at the British Retail Consortium, said: “This report shows that for most retailers, sustainability is a business driver. They are working beyond compliance and taking account of the risks that climate change poses to their future.

However, there is still much to do. We need to see greater weight given to sustainability criteria in sourcing; clear links between achievement and renumeration at all levels and increased use of technologies for measuring and monitoring in order to drive down emissions.”

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