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IP/10/824

Brussels, 24 June 2010

Environment - Sustainable Consumption and Production: European retailers deliver green code of conduct

European business leaders today delivered a voluntary environmental code of conduct for the retail sector. Retailers signing up to the code commit to a set of principles and measures aimed at reducing their environmental footprint. The Retail Environmental Sustainability Code was presented to EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik at an event to mark the first anniversary of the Retail Forum. The Forum was set up last year by the European Commission and the European retail sector as part of their drive to promote more environmentally sustainable consumption patterns.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik said: "This marks an important milestone for the Retail Forum and is good news for consumers. It addresses the main areas of environmental concern, such as sourcing, waste management, resource efficiency and communication to customers. By signing up to this code of conduct retailers are showing that they care about the impacts their businesses have on the environment and are taking action to reduce them."

Sir Terry Leahy, Chief Executive of Tesco PLC and President of the European Retail Round Table said: “In the year since the launch of the Retail Forum, we are pleased with the significant progress we have made: the huge numbers of changes that are being made in stores, in our distribution systems, with our suppliers, with NGO partners and of course customers.  Today, we are taking a next step with the launch of the Code.  We know we have more to do and I am confident that the implementation of this Code will help us to do so. This is a great example of the creation of a mass movement in green consumption working in practice."

Dr. Rainhardt von Leoprechting, Vice-President and Head of Corporate Relations of Metro Group and EuroCommerce President said: “The retail sector is not only a huge player in the European economy, generating 13% of GDP, it is also the link between industry and millions of consumers. In this pivotal role we can work with all actors along the supply chain to develop new sustainable solutions. Together we can lead Europe towards a better, greener future.”

Voluntary environmental retail code

European retailers are in a key position to promote more sustainable consumption through their own actions, their partnerships with suppliers, and their daily contact with European consumers.

Recognition of the influential role they play led to the setting-up of the Retail Forum, an initiative under the EU's action plan on sustainable consumption and production and sustainable industrial policy. Forum member companies include many multinational retailers who have committed to reducing their environmental footprint through a series of company-specific actions.

Today the Retail Forum has gone one step further on the path to sustainability by presenting a voluntary European code of conduct for retailers. The Retail Environmental Sustainability Code focuses on the sustainable sourcing of specific products such as timber or fish, increased resource efficiency in stores, optimisation of transport and distribution, better waste management practices and improved communication to consumers. Signatories agree to report on their progress, for instance through their annual corporate sustainability report.

More than 20 major retailers and retail associations have already signed up to the code of conduct, a measure supported by the Council of the European Union in its December 2008 conclusions.

Retail Forum

The Retail Forum was launched in 2009 with the aim of generating a better understanding of the practical measures needed to promote sustainable consumption in the retail sector.

Membership of the Retail Forum is voluntary and open to all retailers who join the Retailers’ Environmental Action Programme (REAP). To date, 21 retailers and 7 retail associations have done so.

In its first year the Forum has tackled a number of key issues such as energy efficiency, transport and logistics, and communication and marketing. A number of papers providing proposals for action and highlighting examples of good practice by the retail sector are available on the Forum's website: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/industry/retail/index_en.htm


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