“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
The opening verse from the 1970 Joni Mitchell song “Big Yellow Taxi” spotlighted environmental concerns in the same year Earth Day was launched.
Now, more than 50 years later, environmental sustainability is a topic of growing focus — including for retail businesses.
Success Gets Measured
Sustainability efforts are increasingly measurable, which enables consumers, investors and others to judge retailer investments. The most proactive companies are often listed highly on key sustainability rankings. As a case in point, retail giant Ahold Delhaize recently maintained its position as a world leader in the food and staples retailing sector in the 2021 Dow Jones Sustainability World Index. The company received a score of 83 out of 100, well above the industry average of 26 points.
Competition is usually fierce in food and drug retail, but sustainability is a topic in which competition can sometimes take a back seat to collaboration. A major collaborative initiative is spearheaded by The Consortium to Reinvent the Retail Bag, managed by Closed Loop Partners. In 2021, it unveiled a series of retailer pilots that included participation from CVS Health, Target and Walmart. The goal is to drive sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic bags. These efforts will be important to track in the new year. Collaboration will be increasingly needed as retailers strive to advance their efforts.