The retail sector produces a lot of waste, from food packaging to textiles. It is with this in mind that we have established an approach that aims to address our impacts and also manage our waste across the value chain. The Group’s strategic intent for the management of waste and packaging is premised on design thinking that takes into account the use of sustainable materials as well as circularity in both the food and textiles space. We have been on a journey to zero packaging waste to landfill as well as ensuring that all our packaging will be reusable or recyclable by 2022. Since embarking on this journey in 2018, we have made great progress, especially in the areas of eliminating single-use plastic shopping bags from our operations as well as finding innovative ways of incorporating post-consumer waste into new packaging and products. These commitments were also our way of cementing work that had already started on waste reduction at the beginning of our sustainability journey.
Our customers have always held us accountable for excessive and non-recyclable packaging. Our strategy also takes into account the concerns of our customers as they are the end users of our products. Being involved in how waste from our products is handled at the customer level, therefore, becomes one of the biggest focuses of our waste management strategy. Not only do we design for reuse and recyclability, but we aim to play a part in how excessive waste, whether directly through our product packaging or indirectly through how this packaging is discarded at the customer level, is managed. This impacts on the procurement process for the materials used, and requires full integration across the business in order to enable us to direct our efforts both upstream and downstream in our value chain.
We have embedded a systematic approach to packaging and waste with a strategy that aims to:
Our approach to packaging is aimed at achieving a balance between a number of important considerations, such as food safety, product labelling, and product quality, as well as waste minimisation.
Internal buy-in has been an important focus within the Group to ensure that we are able to embed a systematic approach towards achieving our waste and packaging goals. Working closely with our product technologists in our various product groups as well as business operations, we strive to improve our packaging through:
We also work very closely with our suppliers to ensure that these focuses filter though our entire value chain. Where solutions are complex and hard to implement, we focus on industry collaboration with key stakeholders that share our vision. This has helped us to build critical mass within the industry and also to bring overall systemic change.
In addition, we continue to position the company as a responsible retailer through constant engagement with our customers. Taking our customers on this journey is key to meeting our commitments and, therefore, we continue to communicate using various platforms in order to shift customer perception when it comes to how we manage waste and packaging.
More information on the focus area and our performance thereon can be found in our annual Good Business Journey Report