Less than 20% of retailers ‘on track’ to meet sustainability targets

The majority of retailers are not yet on track to meet their sustainability targets, according to research from Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The survey polled 37 major retail businesses around the world, including grocers, fashion firms and those selling homeware and electronics, with annual revenue ranging from $1 billion to $500 billion.

The study, which was released during the World Retail Congress, found what while 60 per cent of these firms believe their goals are bold and differentiated, over half had still not set any sustainability key performance indicators (KPIs) across their businesses to measure progress.

Less than 20 per cent were currently on track to cut Scope 3 emissions, which include those of suppliers, by enough to meet targets for limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5 degrees, set by the Paris Agreement in 2015.

“As the industry moves in the direction of greater sustainability, a focus on progress, rather than perfection, will be critical,” said Ian McGarrigle, chairman of World Retail Congress.

The report says that there needs to be a “seismic shift” in attitudes and business processes to place sustainability at the core of corporate strategy, decision making, and value creation.

It calls on companies to do more to accelerate their responses to tackling issues such as plastic packaging, which accounts for 40 per cent of global plastic use.

“There may be an inclination to wait for perfect data on sustainability drivers and constraints before starting to act, but that would be a mistake,” said Shalini Unnikrishnan, a managing director and partner at BCG, and a co-author of the report.

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