At a minimum, consumers are now demanding businesses have some sort of sustainable practice put in place. The Retail Excellence in Design Awards includes a special award for sustainability, sponsored by Inzide Commercial, which celebrates excellence in sustainable practices.
The director of Inzide Commercial, Steve Aschebrock, says businesses are now expected to be open about their sustainability practices to both consumers and other players within the industry.
“You have to be transparent, have everything on your website, make sure you have third-party verification and publish it. It is all pretty simple.”
“There are no excuses for companies to not be transparent about their sustainability practices.”
Aschebrock believes companies working towards sustainability efforts should be rewarded for their efforts through the Sustainability Award - and consumer loyalty.
“Sustainable businesses should be rewarded within the retail industry, they are the ones who should be seen as having a higher quality product, the ones who are trying to do the right thing, and the ones who should be given more work than others who aren’t.”
Aschebrock says prioritising a circular economy is sure way to show consumers your dedication to protecting our deteriorating environment. A circular economy refers to one in which all material used can be safely composted, reused in production, or otherwise returned to the environment to circulate in one closed system.
“Retailers have to get involved with a more circular economy way of thinking,” Aschebrock says. “We need to be circular in our thinking, and know that whatever is being designed to be used can be deconstructed and remade again.”
Simon Dickson, commercial manager – Australasia for GDM Retail Systems, says a new breed of conscious consumer had acted as a motivator in getting retailers to adopt a more sustainable outlook.
“The consumers now are so conscious about where their products are coming from… We’re having constant conversations and those consumers are putting pressure on us by saying, well, what are you guys doing?”
Dickson says GDM has a range of sustainable practices that fit into their circular economy approach, and acknowledges that retailers can benefit from adopting even simple measures.
“Retailers are taking it into consideration, and obviously looking at different materials that are friendly to the environment and for the customers. They’re having to address it every day in their buying decisions and they're doing it with the flooring suppliers or their ceiling suppliers. So, they are trying to get that circular economy moving because they’re a large part of it.”
Making an effort to become more environmentally friendly isn’t difficult, but Dickson says every effort towards it should be recognised.
“I think recognition for companies who are doing a good job in the sector is important. I think it’s a standard that is not hard to put in place. It is a lot easier to do than a lot of people think, when you start to dig a little bit into your practises you can see things that can be changed.”
Attempts to become more sustainable can be easily started by any retailer, says Dickson.
“Ask questions, the answers are out there. You won’t have all the answers, none of us do. Just ask the question and by asking the question, you're going to create a conversation. A conversation will result in some action.”
The Excellence Awards within the RED awards are decided by the judges to celebrate the submissions that best demonstrate design elements. The Sustainability Award is one such that recognises hard work and a dedication to meet the global shift of the conscious consumer.
To enter or find out more about the awards visit: www.redawards.co.nz
For more information on sustainability best practices contact firstname.lastname@example.org