Will going green put retailers in the black?
Earth Day is getting a bit old — 45 years to the date to be exact — but the goal of reducing waste and costs is alive and well in retailing. Today, seemingly every business has a story to tell about its use of renewable energy, waste reduction and other initiatives that fall under the broad sustainability umbrella.
Many companies today release sustainability reports, and using power from renewable and green energy sources is high on many priority lists. Today, retailers including Kohl’s, REI and Whole Foods supply 100 percent of their electricity needs using renewable power, while many others have pledged to reach that goal by 2020.
The Environmental Protection Agency publishes a list of the top 30 retail green power users within its Green Power Partnership program. While many such as Best Buy (13 percent), Macy’s (23 percent) and Walmart (3 percent) are far shy of supplying 100 percent of their power using green sources of energy, the size of these companies still make them among the largest users in the U.S.
Water conservation is also a high priority for companies such as Starbucks, which has cut consumption by 23 percent, just shy of a 25 percent corporate goal set in 2008. Extended drought conditions, particularly in California, has brought the issue to the forefront in recent months. In January, the state declared a state of emergency to deal with shortages caused by four years of drought.
- The 100% Club – Sierra
- Top 30 Retail – Environmental Protection Agency
- Federal, State Agencies Plan Drought Operations for 2015 – State of California
- Water and Energy Conservation – Starbucks
How have green priorities evolved for retail companies in the last decade? What are the biggest environmental challenges affecting retailers’ ability to operate profitably today?