Shaping the future of sustainable retail with technology

Sustainability remains a serious concern for many industries, especially retail. Retail companies need to adopt sustainable development goals and take actions to reduce waste. This is good for business and great for humanity.

Why does adopting sustainability and clear policy in the retail industry remain imperative?

It’s no secret that companies in the retail sector are some of the most wasteful and polluting in the world.

According to CB insights, the fashion industry generates over 92 million metric tons of waste every year. Global food waste totals around 1.6 billion metric tons. The retail industry heavily relies on resource-intensive materials with a high carbon footprint. Some of the main issues for the retail brands remain:

  • packaging and plastic waste
  • spoiled food and organic waste
  • glass and assorted metallic waste
  • fabric waste
  • e-waste

All of these have a destructive impact on the environment. Luckily there is a rising focus on eliminating wasteful resources, materials, and processes in the retail sector. Retail companies should ask themselves if they are ready to meet the demands of environmentally conscious consumers.

How do modern retail consumers act?

Sustainability is the most powerful link that connects retailers with eco-conscious customers.

According to CB insights,  52% of textile industry experts say consumers are driving the heightened focus on sustainability, such as fashion. The fashion industry includes more transparent supply chains, alternative materials, and second-hand shopping.
Similarly, 65% of eco-friendly consumers want sustainable food products from alternative proteins to compostable packaging.

Younger generations also share their voice. A 2018 survey from data platform Euclid found that “52% of millennials and 48% of Gen Xers feel it’s important that their values align with the brands they like,” while 35% of baby boomers surveyed felt the same way. Millennials and Gen Z demand retail brands invest in sustainability initiatives.

Retail companies know this. Many turn to technology to bring sustainability into business to go green.

How can technology help retail players adopt sustainability?

Technology is shaping the future of the retail industry with sustainable solutions, for example, from palm oil alternatives to biodegradable textiles to vertical farming.

We can say it’s a saving grace for retailers’ clear policy.

One of the emerging technologies to improve environmental footprints and sustainability is 3D printing. 3D assets allow the retail industry to digitalize the design-develop-produce workflow, localize production, minimize waste, and extend the life of products. For example, a California-based furniture company, produces pieces using the latest eco-friendly automated tech, including 3D printing.

How are retail companies using tech to embrace sustainability? 

Some of the world’s biggest and most innovative retail companies are working towards sustainability goals using technology in various ways.

Forward-thinking retail brands have already adopted sustainably harvested materials and recycled packaging.

This is an excellent way to stay competitive in the global market for ethical shoppers. These are some of the solutions that are used for sustainability and growth today:

Häagen-Dazs, Burt’s Bees, Gilette with LOOP

In 2019, recycling company TerraCycle launched the reusing, waste-free platform LOOP. It allows customers to order products in reusable packaging that can be returned and refilled. That’s a whole new way to shop!

Shoppers can enjoy waste-free shopping and order products from various food and personal care brands, like Häagen-Dazs, Burt’s Bees, Gillette, etc. It allows customers to order products in reusable packaging that can be returned and refilled.

Unilever with LOOP

Unilever, a giant British multinational consumer goods company, introduced reusable, refillable packaging to help cut waste. Unilever got involved in the LOOP, and many of its products are part of the platform.

LVMH with Nona Source

Luxury giant LVMH, the owner of world-famous brands such as Fendi and Louis Vuitton, has changed its deadstock disposal strategy by launching the Nona Source platform. It supports the resale of its brands’ fabrics and materials.

Levi’s with WellThread

Do you know how many gallons of water are needed to make a pair of jeans? Over 2,000! From growing the cotton to dyeing and finishing?

Levi’s focuses on the finishing processes to remove water wherever possible with its WellThread collection. This assortment features pieces that took less water to produce and use more recycled materials. This is a true example of sustainable production.

These types of sustainable manufacturing and shipping practices should be priorities for the entire retail industry, now and in the years to come. Are you ready to embrace sustainable, ethical values and practices?

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