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Report shows retailers have halved waste to landfill

Retailers have halved the amount of waste they send to landfill compared with five years ago, according to a British Retail Consortium (BRC) report.

The report, A Better Retailing Climate Progress Report 2010, published on Friday (17 September), updates the goals signed by retailers two years ago for reducing the environmental impact of their businesses by 2013.

According to the report, retailers have met a revised target to reduce waste to landfill to below 25% by 2013; the proportion of waste sent to landfill was reduced from 48% in 2005 to 23% in 2010. The total weight of all waste produced reduced by 3% between 2005 and 2010 in absolute terms.

The report says that retailers are cutting landfill waste by reusing materials or finding partners that can reuse them, and by recycling and adopting alternative technologies for organic wastes, such as anaerobic digestion (AD).

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “These remarkable achievements by retailers show their commitment to tackling climate change has not wavered, despite the tough trading conditions.

“Retailers have a proud record of delivering impressive environmental results on a voluntary basis – without the need for legislation. This includes helping their customers use 4.6 billion fewer single-use carrier bags between 2006 and 2010, despite major growth in sales.”

However, Robertson is concerned that the Government’s localism agenda could pose problems for the retail sector when it comes to meeting its environmental commitments in future.

He said: “There could be benefits from more local decision-making. But the Government’s localism agenda presents significant challenges to the excellent environmental work being done by retailers. Many climate change objectives are set nationally and internationally, but often the opposition to schemes, such as wind farms or energy from waste plants, comes locally.

“We can’t let ‘nimbyism’ get in the way. A national approach is the best way to help retailers achieve environmental objectives at a local level. The BRC on-pack recycling label, which is increasing local authority recycling rates, is a good example.”

The report also confirms that retailers have achieved an 18% reduction between 2005 and 2010 in energy-related emissions from buildings and carbon dioxide emissions from transporting goods.

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