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Retail agreement on waste

Retail agreement on waste

On 9 October 2012, retailers and retail associations from across Europe signed a voluntary agreement to help consumers reduce their waste.


The waste agreement

A total of 23 companies and two associations have joined the agreement now. It was developed under the framework of the Retailers’ Environmental Action Programme (REAP) and presented at the 2012 annual event.

With the agreement the commerce sector demonstrates its commitment to promote sustainable consumption. Participating retailers will engage in at least two awareness-raising initiatives on waste reduction on a global and/or national level by June 2014.

Food retailers will focus on food waste, while non-food retailers will focus on their main product range, for example, textiles or electronic waste. Results and information on the various initiatives of signatory companies will be presented at the 2014 REAP annual event.

The challenge

Waste represents a cost for the environment but also for society at large. Retailers are committed to play a role in the waste recovery chain and participate in the overall eff orts of preventing and reducing waste further. Despite being a minor direct contributor to waste, retailers are fully aware that many products which become waste are bought in their stores or on-line. On average, every citizen living in the EU throws away around half a tonne of household rubbish every year.

How retailers address the waste problem

Retailers are a large contributor to the EU economy. Despite the current economic crisis, retailers are committed to remain responsible actors, and are keen to play their part in addressing societal issues. Natural resources are becoming scarce, and retailers fully agree on the need to preserve them. Retailers therefore increasingly see waste as a valuable resource in its own right and are taking steps to reuse materials wherever possible so as to reduce reliance on raw material inputs.

Waste management, and especially waste prevention and reduction, is a core objective of most retailers. Many retailers have already set up waste prevention and reduction programmes with ambitious targets, which are furthermore regularly reviewed. They focus primarily on the way their companies operate. They continuously strive to reduce their waste in their operations with all the means at their disposal in the segments of the supply chain where they may have a direct control: logistics, product design, packaging, recycling etc.

Retailers also often collaborate very closely with suppliers. They use their expertise to help their suppliers improve their production process so as to reduce the overall environmental footprint of their activities and the products they supply them with.

Raising awareness among consumers

For many products, the environmental impact of the waste generated is highest at the consumer level. Adapting and/or changing behaviour is essential to reduce it. Retailers are therefore committed to instigate, encourage and accompany consumers in their efforts to reduce the environmental footprint derived from waste. The retail sector is in a strategic position to do this. It wants to put its knowledge of consumers, its proximity to them and its extensive experience in communicating and informing them to raise awareness about waste issues.

With the waste agreement, retailers intend to further reach out to their customers and involve them in the cultural change needed to address the waste prevention and reduction issue, thereby contributing to paving the way to a resource efficient and sustainable economy and society.

Click here to download the full text of the agreement.


Key facts

On average, every citizen living in the EU throws away around half a tonne of household rubbish every year.