Environment secretary Owen Paterson has said the retail sector is proof that businesses can grow whilst implementing sustainable practices that benefit the environment.
Speaking at an event hosted by the British Retail Consortium (BRC), Paterson commended the sector, which has exceeded targets for reducing waste, energy and water usage, for taking action in a tough economic climate.
The event saw the launch of BRC’s sixth edition of A Better Retailing Climate, a voluntary initiative setting out ambitions environmental strategies. Paterson said the new report has a wealth of examples demonstrating how retailers have optimised their resources to improve the environment whilst still boosting business.
He said, “The sector has exceed these targets against the backdrop of the tough trading climate in recent years, both in the retail sector and the wider economy. This shows that growth and sustainable practices can go hand in hand.
“Sustainable business practices are essential in a resource-constrained world, and only businesses that recognise this can be truly competitive.”
He also noted that as we move towards a ‘zero waste’ economy, investors could benefit from “potentially lucrative investment opportunities”, particularly in recycling, reprocessing and remanufacture.
Paterson continued, “Two of my key priorities are growing the rural economy and improving the environment. These are intricately linked, and this initiative perfectly demonstrates how each enhances the other.
“Sustained economic growth needs a healthy natural environment, and we cannot invest in our environment without the resource generated by economic activity.”
The BRC report also confirmed that supermarkets have committed to reporting the amount of food wasted at the retail stage following strong criticism last year when the extent of avoidable food waste was revealed.