As a world, we face fundamental challenges in how to respond to climate change, biodiversity loss and overall pressure on resources. The European Commission has, in the Green Deal, and other policy proposals under it, including the Circular Economy and Farm to Fork Strategies, put forward an ambitious programme of ideas to make the EU a global leader in sustainability and reach its target of carbon neutrality by 2050.

 During the last Sustainable Retail Summit held by the Consumers Good Forum, I had the chance to listen in to the sector’s commitment for more sustainability. During his keynote speech, EuroCommerce president repeated the sector’s key aspirations that I try to support as Head of Sustainability.

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The retail and wholesale sector, as a direct interface between a range of ecosystems, end-users and consumers is aware of the important role it can play in helping achieve those important objectives. It has initiated a series of actions to improve the sustainability of the products it sells and of how it sells them. Our dedicated website gives concrete examples of the wide range of actions companies across Europe have adopted to dramatically improve the sustainability of their activities and to encourage sustainable lifestyles.

Albert Einstein once said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”

We will go on looking to reduce unnecessary packaging, and working with suppliers in the eco-design of products to allow them to be reused, recycled and last longer. We are also seeking ways of making our contribution to reducing the impact of our activities on deforestation.

Equally important to Europe succeeding in these goals will be

  • Close cooperation between policy makers and industry and between all parts of the supply chain, from for example, farmers, to processors and manufacturers to wholesalers and retailers and ultimately consumers and industrial customers.
  • a coordinated approach between legislation and other measures, for example incentivising sustainable practices and investment with a direct link with the recovery fund,
  • cooperating with our sector to deliver sustainability to the many millions of customers it serves every day.
  •  Investment in public and private infrastructure to support recycling and creation of sufficient feedstock for, e.g. recycled plastic products.

 Retail and wholesale alone does not have all the answers but we are by our nature constantly innovating and in doing so, seeking to respond to these challenges by accelerating the digital and sustainability transition and reinventing the way we do business, to keep it within the natural limits of our planet.

Albert Einstein once said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”

All of us, as individual consumers as well as businesses, are creators of part of the problem. By working together and continuing to change our thinking, we can all be part of the solution.