Shop green? Global survey lists top eco-friendly retailers


Posted at Nov 23 2009 09:59 PM | Updated as of Nov 25 2009 06:03 AM

Eco-Friendly Shops
Mountain Equipment Co-op Canada Sells gear for climbing, water sports, cycling, snow sports, hiking, and camping
IKEA Canada Canada Sells home furnishings and accessories
Walmart Canada Canada Discount department stores selling apparel, electronics, furniture, sports equipment, toys, jewelry, and food
Home Depot Canada Canada Retailer of homebuilding or construction products and services, home appliances, and tools
H-E-B (short for Here, Everything is Better) United States Sells fresh meat, produce, seafood, and other grocery selections
LUSH Britain Fresh, handmade natural cosmetics like soaps, shampoo, and other bath products
Marks & Spencer Britain Clothing, furniture, homeware, flowers, gifts, wine, and snacks
Alliance Boots Britain Pharmaceutical wholesaler selling skincare products, herbal products, healthcare items, and cosmetics
Monsoon Britain Monsoon Stores Ltd sells fashion accessories, lingerie, children's wear, and home accessories
Tesco Britain International grocery and general merchandising retail chain for food and non-food products
Musgrave Group Ireland Food wholesaler
Monoprix France French supermarket chain selling both food and non-food items
Carrefour France French hypermarket chain selling both food and non-food items
Aeon Hong Kong Retailer of food, fashion, household, and electrical merchandise
Woolworths Australia Supermarket and retail chain that sells fresh food, apparel, and homeware products

SYDNEY - Eco-friendly managers and staff are the key to making a retailer go green, according to a study listing 15 of the world's top eco-friendly retailers in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia.

Researchers in Canada, Scotland, Japan, Spain and France interviewed 200 retailers to look at best environmental practices and help the industry in adopting sustainable practices that can also enhance their bottom line.

The researchers narrowed the list down to 15, finding that Mountain Equipment Co-op, IKEA Canada, Walmart and Home Depot were among the list of the leading green businesses in Canada.

They listed H-E-B in the United States, LUSH, Marks & Spencer, Alliance Boots, Monsoon and Tesco in Britain, Musgrave Group in Ireland, Monoprix and Carrefour in France, Aeon in Japan, and Woolworths in Australia.

Using solar panels and geothermal heating for energy sources and creating "eco ambassadors" to lead initiatives were some of the "green" activities underway but a common thread was the involvement of staff and managers.

"There has to be a commitment and passion from the CEO or senior management in order to implement sustainable practices," researcher Wendy Evans from Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Retail Management, Toronto, Canada, said in a statement.

"Once you have that in place, you can roll out a long-term plan that will benefit your company -- and win you more customers, who are demanding companies be more environmentally responsible," she said.

Other common threads in the report published by Ryerson University's Center for the Study of Commercial Activity (CSCA) were recruiting external advisers to help develop an eco-friendly strategy, assigning staff with environmental responsibilities, and regularly updating sustainability policies and achievements.

The study found that energy and waste top the list of what companies measure for environmental reasons, with 80% of companies tracking the amount of waste produced, CO2 emissions, transportation and water usage.

But return on investment was also a central focus, with both large and small retailers aware that sustainability provides a healthy return on investment and further differentiates their business.

The 3 main approaches to measuring success was cost savings, carbon emissions reduction and revenue generation.

However the report, which also involved researchers from Scotland's University of Stirling, France's University of Metz, Japan's Hitotsubashi University and Spain's ESADE, said it was important to recognize and address barriers that might prevent retailers from adopting sustainable practices.

Externally, these included being located in an area without recycling while internally this could include lack of a champion, complicated technical language and a lack of knowledge.