Resources, best practise & case studies for the retail industry

Retail in London's West End has a responsibility to lead the way to more sustainable shopping. Home to global flagships, innovative new brands and up and coming concepts, what happens here will be a building block for retail destinations across the globe.

West End Case Studies

Here we will showcase West End business strategies and initiatives at the forefront of sustainability and innovation across retail.

Uniqlo

UNIQLO aims to establish 50 repair studios by 2024’s end

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The Challenge

Uniqlo has an overarching goal to make 50% of sales through recycling, repair and reuse by 2030. With approximately 300,000 tonnes of textile waste ending up in landfills every year and less than 1% of materials being recycled into new clothes, fashion retailers are under pressure to breathe more life into their products. With £140m worth of materials going to landfills annually, this challenge also poses as an opportunity.

UNIQLO’s approach

Uniqlo has seen this as an opportunity by launching ‘RE. UNIQLO’ studios in 2022. These studios offer repair, remake, reuse and recycle services to UNIQLO customers. Customers can also choose to donate their clothes to those in need.

Repair services start from £2 and are offered for down, trousers, knitwear, shirts, belts, and bags. Remake services range from £3 - £20. Customers can resize clothing and add embroidery or decorative patches. UNIQLO has begun collecting recycled clothes to create new clothing.

In 2023, UNIQLO opened 8 new studios, expanding the global total to 36. UNIQLO aims to have 50 studios worldwide by the end of 2024.

Marks & Spencer

M&S deploys 19 new stores in the popular ‘Refilled’ scheme

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The Challenge

As part of its roadmap to achieve net zero by 2040, M&S has set an ambitious target to eliminate one billion units of plastic packaging by 2027. In 2023/24, the retailer surpassed its target of removing 75 million units of plastic packaging from its products, four months ahead of schedule.

Marks and Spencer’s approach

M&S has rolled out successful low/no packaging initiatives across their produce and packaged goods. In 2023, a trial was run in six M&S stores called ‘Refilled’ where customers purchase a prefilled returnable bottle which can be returned to the store and refilled again.

This trail’s range offers own-brand household essentials including laundry detergents, cleaning sprays and washing-up liquids. This trial was a success, with 10,000 customers engaging in the scheme despite the initial £2 barrier to cover the purchase of a returnable bottle. Customers can claim back the £2 in the form of a voucher that can be used with ‘Refilled’ again.

This scheme is being expanded to a total of 25 stores and is expected to prevent 150,000 pieces of plastic from being used.

The Body Shop

The Body Shop reaches target of 100% of product range certified vegan

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The Challenge

The vegan cosmetics industry is predicted to grow 6.3% annually between 2023 and 2028 and reach $24 billion by 2028. The growth in the market is being driven by consumer concern for animal testing, as well as awareness of allergies or sensitivities towards animal-derived ingredients such as dairy, eggs and lanolin. Cosmetic products frequently have complicated ingredients lists, making it difficult for shoppers to determine what products contain, and people may avoid products with unknown ingredients. Vegan product certification bodies can be helpful for consumers and brands, providing external assurance that products are fully vegan.

The Body Shop's Approach

The Body Shop has become the world's first global beauty brand to transition to a completely vegan product range, certified by The Vegan Society. Achieving the milestone, set by the brand in 2021 when 60% of its products carried the Vegan Society trademark, required over 4,000 ingredients to be validated. In line with its commitment to sustainability and animal welfare, The Body Shop aims to offer cruelty-free, plant-based alternatives without compromising on quality or accessibility. This move reflects a growing trend toward ethical and eco-conscious consumer choices within the cosmetics market.

Primark

Primark reaches 55% in its target to make all clothes from more sustainable materials

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The challenge

Emissions from clothing production comprise around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions – more than those from aviation and shipping combined. Less than 3% of the materials feedstock for global fashion production comes from recycled sources, and the intensive use of both natural and synthetic fibres puts pressure on resources, pollutes the environment and creates negative social impacts.

Primark’s approach

Primark has set a 2030 target to make all its clothes from recycled or more sustainably sourced materials. As reported in its 2023 Sustainability and Ethics Report, the retailer has now reached 55% of this target, an increase from 45% in 2022.

Primark has scaled up its work on more responsible cotton this year with46% of its cotton clothing containing material that was either organic, recycled or sourced from the Primark Sustainable Cotton programme – which trains smallholder farmers in regenerative farming practices. To provide better oversight and monitoring of its supply chain, Primark has rolled out a traceability and compliance platform, TrusTrace, to gather data from raw materials to finished product.

Primark has set a target of halving its scope 3 emissions by 2030, which was recently validated by the Science Based Targets Initiative.

IKEA

IKEA introduces mattress recycling scheme as part of its circular retail offering

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The challenge

Mattresses are extremely difficult to recycle as they are made up of around 19 different materials. In 2020, around 6.4 million mattresses were disposed of in the UK, with the majority ending up in landfill.

IKEA’s approach

IKEA UK has introduced a new mattress removal and recycling programme in partnership with The Furniture Recycling (TFR) Group. Customers can arrange a collection from TFR Group using a discount code from IKEA, and the mattress will be deconstructed, enabling the component parts to be recycled and diverted from landfill. IKEA also plans to use TFR Group’s mattress rejuvenation service, which sanitises and repairs mattresses so they can be resold or redistributed to communities.

The scheme joins other circular initiatives from IKEA, such as its BuyBack & Resell service which encourages customers to return pre-loved furniture in return for store credit.

 

John Lewis

John Lewis uses biomethane to cut HGV fleet emissions

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The Challenge

Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) account for 4% of UK emissions but are difficult to decarbonise, as their size makes them unsuitable for electrification.

John Lewis Partnership, the parent company of John Lewis and Waitrose, was an early adopter of biomethane-fuelled HGVs, and now operates a fleet of over 400. However, to continue to increase that number, the retail group was facing challenges with refuelling infrastructure. This could also affect access and demand for biomethane from other HGV operators.

John Lewis’ approach

To help scale adoption of biomethane, John Lewis is constructing a dedicated biomethane-refuelling station for HGVs. Construction commenced in August 2023 on the joint venture with CNG fuels, which will provide a central hub for biomethane fuel, near to popular routes including the M20 and M2. The hub will host 12 pumps and have the capacity to fuel 500 full tanks each day.

Other fleet operators will be able to access the refuelling station, which will host 12 pumps and have the capacity to fill up 500 trucks per day. The initiative will help the retailer to increase their number of biomethane HGVs to 520 by 2028 and is expected to save almost 60,000 tonnes of CO2 a year compared to conventional diesel-powered HGVs.

The UK has an ambition to end the operation of HGVs which are not zero-emission by 2040, as part of its net zero target.

Zara

Zara owner Inditex signs major deal to procure recycled polyester

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The Challenge

Polyester is the most widely used fibre in the world, but it has significant environmental impacts. The fabric is derived from fossil fuel petroleum, is very energy and water-intensive to manufacture, and is not biodegradable.

In 2019, the apparel industry accounted for over half of fibre used globally that year. But only 14% of the 32 million tonnes used by the industry was recycled polyester.

Inditex’s approach

Zara's parent company, Inditex, has signed a three-year deal to procure recycled polyester from US-based materials company Ambercycle. The agreement will see Inditex purchase the majority of Ambercycle’s fabric Cycora, a material made from post-industrial and post-consumer polyester waste. The benefits of using this kind of recycled polyester include removing additional fossil fuels from material inputs and reducing waste. The initiative is part of delivering Inditex’s target to make 100% of its textile products from more sustainable materials by 2030.

Inditex has also signed up to the 2025 Recycled Polyester Challenge, which aims to increase the percentage of recycled polyester used in the apparel industry to 45% by 2025.

L’OCCITANE

L’Occitane Group Becomes a Certified B Corp

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The Challenge

Beauty brand L’Occitane Group has been committed to improving its environmental and social performance for many years but sought a structured way to measure the impact of its decisions on all stakeholders, including employees, supply chain, customers and the planet. L’Occitane also wanted a framework against which to continuously improve its ethical practices.

L’Occitane’s approach

L’Occitane has become a certified B Corp, having met rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. The certification process took two years and included a B Impact Assessment, which is verified by B Corp and requires businesses to score at least 80 points (L’Occitane scored 85.4).  

A primary focus for L’Occitane is to create more sustainable agricultural systems by actively engaging with farmers and suppliers in its value chain, as well as participating in sector initiatives to influence policy and system level change. This will feed into the Group’s broader target of reducing scope 3 emissions by 55% per value-added unit by 2030.

Certified B Corps must undertake the verification process every three years to maintain their status, encouraging businesses to strive for continuous improvement. L’Occitane joins over 1,100 other B Corps in the UK.

Marks & Spencer

M&S Introduces Paper ‘Bags For Life'

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The Challenge

Although more than 70% of Marks & Spencer’s customers bring their own bags to store, the retailer still needs to provide options for bags on the go. Many retailers have promoted ‘bags for life’ – typically made of a thicker, more robust plastic designed to carry heavier loads and withstand multiple uses. However, this still relies on the promotion of plastics, which can be difficult to recycle and can often end up as environmental pollution. Additionally, many of customers already have multiple bags for life at home, leading to unnecessary plastic consumption. However, plastic has been relied upon because of its durability.

Marks and Spencer’s approach

Marks & Spencer has developed a paper equivalent of the bag for life which is capable of carrying over 15KG and can withstand up to 100 uses.  A natural resin gives the bags a water-resistant treatment, and the design can be easily folded. The bags are made from FSC approved paper, are produced in factories powered by renewable energy, and will be easier for customers to recycle at home at the end of life. However, the transition means that Marks & Spencer is investigating alternative uses for soft in-store plastics previously used to create its plastic bags for life.

Adidas & Inditex

Adidas and Inditex pilot footwear recycling scheme

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A new recycling scheme launched by fashion companies including Adidas and Inditex aims to collect post-consumer trainers and shoes to ensure they are recycled into new products. The scheme will take collections from all across the value chain and separate shoes into different components. Once divided, parts are ground down into small granulates which can be reformed into new materials. Read more.

Lululemon

Lululemon invest in innovative recycling

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The athleisure industry is heavily reliant on synthetic fibres which are difficult to recycle. Lululemon have made an investment in Samsara Eco, a recycling company that takes an enzymatic approach to breaking down plastics. The nascent technology uses less energy to complete the recycling process and returns a better quality of fibre as an output. Read more.

Marks & Spencer

M&S allow customers to ‘schwop’ for school uniforms

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Marks and Spencer have partnered with eBay and Oxfam to extend their ‘schwopping’ scheme – where customers donate old clothes to charity in exchange for vouchers – for school uniforms. The move is designed to support families in preparing for the new school year amidst the cost-of-living crisis. Click here to read more.

Charles Tyrwhitt

Charles Tyrwhitt adopt smart tech to improve energy efficiency

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After beginning to measure their carbon footprint in 2021, menswear brand Charles Tyrwhitt are turning to internet of things (IOT) technologies to help measure and reduce their carbon footprint. They recently announced a partnership with LoweConex to roll out technology across heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems in their stores and distribution centres. Click here to read more.

Selfridges

Selfridges runs pop-up offering free valuation services

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As part of their ‘Worn Again’ season promoting circular initiatives, Selfridges ran a month-long service called “The Stock Exchange” allowing customers to have items valued by a team of experts, with the option to sell in exchange for store credit. Read more here.

Lush

Lush raises pay in line with the Real London Living Wage & launches national litter picking programme

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For retailers, the impacts of the cost of living crisis are felt not just by customers but employees too. Lush – who have paid the Real Living Wage for over a decade – recently increased staff hourly rate in line with the recommendations of the Living Wage Foundation. Workers over 18 will be paid at least £10.90 an hour, or £11.95 in London. This compares to the government national average of £10.18 an hour for under 23s and £10.42 for over 23s, which has no adjustment for London salaries. Click to read more.

Lush has set a target of collecting 60 tonnes of waste from UK streets and beaches in honour of co-founder Rowena Bird's 60th birthday. The programme, called “Trash Dash” can be accessed via an online platform with sign-ups from communities and towns across the UK. Find out more here.

Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney: Product Materials & Sustainable Fashion Line

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Product materials are the foundation of Stella McCartney's sustainability initiatives, combining nature with cutting-edge innovation to create the luxury fashion with minimal impact. From using only recycled cashmere, no leather, fur or skins in production to sourcing fibres in a way to protect our forests, Stella McCartney strives to deliver luxury without a cost to the environment. Click to read more.

Stella McCartney announces most sustainable line yet - The latest launch from Stella McCartney announced that 91% of materials are responsibly sourced, shunning leather, feathers, fur and exotic skins in favour of recycled, organic, regenerative and lower-impact fabrics. Read more.

Gucci Italy has announced an open innovation platform looking to improve the circularity of its products across the whole life cycle. The hub will look at material use, durability, repairability and end of life potential, as well as optimising production and logistics to distribute goods. Supply chain engagement is a core part of the initiative, which involves over 4,000 business in total. Gucci Italy’s parent company Kering Group have plans to scale these activities across other brands. Click to read more.

 

H&M's latest initiative - Bottle2Fashion - celebrates international collaboration and turns plastic waste into everyday fashion. Giving a second life to plastic bottle waste, bottle2fashion is a collaborative project for production that is better for our planet. Not only does it support the Indonesian government’s initiative against marine pollution, but it also enables us to lower the footprint of our garments by using recycled materials. Click to read more.


H&M explore textile sorting - H&M group have made significant investments into textile sorting in the creation of joint venture with recycling company Remondis, which aims to extend the life of 40m garments a year. Read more.

Lush's Bring It Back recycling scheme allows customers to return any of their Lush plastic packaging back to its shops for recycling. As well as offering the recycling service, Lush incentivises customers to bring their packaging back by offering a discount off purchases. Since launching the scheme in 2020, LUSH Oxford Street has stopped 24’872 pieces of plastic going back into the environment. Click to read more.

Sector Commitments & Resources

The below highlights industry trade body resources and commitments that may apply to your West End business. Read on to find out more about these initiatives and how to get involved.

British Retail Consortium Climate Action Roadmap

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) is the trade association for retail businesses, with representation across the UK’s major brands in fashion, home and DIY, mixed retail, stationery and craft, food and drink, fast food, electronics, sport and other specialists.

The BRC produced a Climate Action Roadmap for the retail sector, committing to a science-led strategy to limit global warming to 1.5C.

Ambitions

Supporters of this Roadmap have committed to collectively bring the UK retail industry’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2040.

Supporting this headline objective of net zero by 2040 are 3 key milestones, some in advance of 2040:

  • 2030 – net zero for Scope 2 – (retailers’ electricity use)
  • 2035 – net zero for Scope 1- (retailers’ fuel, gas and refrigerant use)
  • 2040 – net zero for all products sold in the UK across all Scopes

Actions

The Roadmap describes how the retail industry can decarbonise, while continuing to deliver an outstanding retail experience, through action in five areas: 

  • Putting greenhouse gas data at the core of business decision making;
  • Operating efficient sites powered by renewable energy;
  • Moving to low carbon logistics;
  • Sourcing sustainably; and
  • Helping our employees and customers to live low carbon lifestyles.

Details and support can be found on the BRC Climate Action Roadmap website

WRAP – The UK Plastics Pact 2025

Chaired by the Waste and Resources Action Plan (WRAP), the UK Plastics Pact is a voluntary commitment to reduce plastic production and waste by 2025 via committing to four targets:

  • Eliminating problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models
  • 100% of plastics packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025
  • 70% of plastics packaging effectively recycled or composted by 2025
  • 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging by 2025.

Signatories include Tesco, McDonalds and Next.

To achieve The UK Plastics Pact targets it is imperative we address some critical issues and find solutions working in collaboration with the plastics value chain. These include: 

  • Flexible plastic packaging: Flexible plastic represents a quarter of all UK consumer plastic packaging, but only 6% is currently recycled. Urgent action is needed.
  • Problem plastics: Eliminating problematic plastics and rethinking and redesigning our plastics so they are more easily recycled.
  • Designing for recyclability: Use our polymer choice and recyclability guidance to design packaging fit for the future
  • Citizen behaviour change: Hard hitting campaigns, world leading citizen research and insight are transforming recycling behaviours in the UK.

SBTi Net Zero Standard

Science-based targets provide a clearly-defined pathway for companies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, helping prevent the worst impacts of climate change and future-proof business growth.

Targets are considered ‘science-based’ if they are in line with what the latest climate science deems necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement – limiting global warming to well-below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C.

In order to be recognised as a 'net-zero business' acting in line with climate science, businesses must now at least halve their emissions by 2030, and reduce them by 90% by 2050 at the latest, all without the use of carbon offsetting. Companies with land-intensive operations must also set an SBTi Forestry, Land Use and Agriculture (FLAG) Target.

In June 2023 SBTi released a new guidance document to support businesses in addressing supply chain emissions, outlining how larger companies can encourage their suppliers to set their own science-based targets. The guidance includes how to identify and prioritise suppliers for reduction targets, securing buy-in, training and engagement tools and methods, and monitoring progress.

SME Carbon Calculator

A free calculator is available for SMEs through the UN-backed SME Climate Hub. This tool is as significant advancement on most free calculation tools as it takes into account Scope 3 value chain emissions.

 

GHG Protocol Land Sector and Removals Guidance

In 2023, the Greenhouse Gas Protocol (the standard methodology for corporate measurement of emissions) will be launching new guidance on how to measure emissions and removals from land use, land use change, biogenic products, technological CO2 removals, and related activities. It is expected that this guidance will support the reporting in the TNFD framework. Companies with significant land use emissions, or who invest in carbon removals and storage, should take note of developments. Draft guidance for pilot testing was published in September 2022.

Science Based Targets for Nature (SBTN)

Science Based Targets for Nature is a sister organisation to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). They provide guidance on setting environmental targets aligned with the best practice recommendations from the scientific community to tackle the interconnected challenges of nature depletion and climate change.

Guidance is already available for target setting on climate and emissions reduction through SBTi and the Net Zero Corporate Standard.

In May 2023 SBTN announced the first science-based targets for nature in the form of technical guidance for freshwater and land. These cover the ‘Assess, Prioritise and Set” stages of the process, with updates for the “Act and Track” stages to arrive in 2024.

Targets are in development for Oceans and Biodiversity.

The Core Carbon Principles - ICVCM

The Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM) have developed a framework and quality standards for the carbon offset market, known as The Core Carbon Principles (CCPs). It is hoped that the introduction of the standards will improve the quality and transparency of carbon offsets.

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook

The UN Sustainable Fashion Communication Playbook provides principles and guidance on how to unite customer-facing communications with sustainability targets in the fashion industry. It demonstrates the role of fashion communicators in advancing the aims of the Paris Agreement and sustainable development goals.

Deforestation-Free Call to Action for Leather

Major fashion brands including Kering, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Adidas and Mango have signed up to a new commitment for the sector to end sourcing of cow leather linked to deforestation by 2030. The pledge has been coordinated by the non-profits Textile Exchange and the Leather Working Group. Signatories are required to set sourcing requirements, establish and achieve supply chain targets, invest in industry transformation, implement traceability systems, and report progress annually.

B Corp

B Corporations (B Corps) are companies certified to demonstrate high standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency. Companies of all sectors and sizes can achieve B Corp status. To qualify, companies must achieve 80 out of a possible 200 points across 5 sections:  governance, workers, communities, environment and customer engagement. In acknowledgement of evolving best practice in sustainability, B Corp are introducing a new, more ambitious framework of standards across 2024, which will expand from 5 to 10 sections for scoring.

UK Business Climate Hub 

The UK Business Climate Hub is a new online resource designed to support businesses to cut energy costs and carbon. Launched by the Government and various UK business groups, the Hub is particularly aimed at SMEs and sets out a framework of seven steps to sustainability. 

The Hub includes advice articles on practical actions businesses can take towards sustainability, such as adopting renewable energy, electrifying vehicles and minimising waste. There is also a list of available finance and support, and an events listing page for relevant webinars and in-person events.

Zero Emission Maritime Buyers Alliance (ZEMBA)

Several organisations with a maritime supply chain such as IKEA, Patagonia and Amazon have formed the The Zero Emission Maritime Buyers Alliance (ZEMBA) to accelerate the deployment of zero emissions fuels in the sector. The organisations have launched requests for proposals for zero-emissions shipping services to be delivered in 2025 with the promise of significant bulk purchases if companies can meet their criteria for zero-emissions fuels.

Circular Change Council

eBay UK will convene a new circular economy council intended to boost reuse in the furniture and homeware industry. The Circular Change Council will bring together major retailers including IKEA, Dunelm, Sainsbury’s and the British Heart Foundation. The aim of the initiative is to identify the most common perceived barriers to scaling the sale of used home goods, and develop solutions.

Nature strategy handbook 

The Nature Strategy Handbook serves as a practical tool for businesses aiming to create a comprehensive nature strategy. It outlines the essential elements of a credible nature strategy, aligning with various frameworks, guidance, and regulations. The handbook offers a series of essential questions, recommendations, and resources to aid in developing a nature strategy, whether as a separate document or integrated within existing business, climate, or sustainability strategies. 

The handbook has been produced by ‘It’s Now for Nature’, a global campaign to bring together the business community to act on nature and contribute towards a nature-positive world by 2030. 

British Retail Consortium launches a ‘Manifesto for Retail’

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has created a vison of an enriched retail future, which embraces the net zero transition and supports the customer. BRC has landed on three major resolutions that are needed for a more sustainable future for the industry.

Firstly, a coordinated approach to tax and regulation is needed as businesses are facing increased costs due to national living wage and rates increases. Secondly, more support for jobs is needed. With the increased digital skills needed in retail, the BRC calls for a reform of the Apprenticeship Levy to cover the costs of courses and training. And lastly, net zero and the circular economy: the BRC points out that recycling rates are stagnant at 44% and asks for regulation to support better waste management.

Legislation & Disclosure

The below outlines current and upcoming legislation that may apply to your West End business. This list will be updated throughout the year as legislation changes.

Current legislation

Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information Regulations 2021

Requires manufactures of energy-related products to make spare parts for products available to customers, to extend the lifespan of goods. Read more.

Green Claims code

In February 2023 the Committee of Advertising Practice released supplementary guidance to the Green Claims Code regarding the use of carbon neutral and net zero claims in advertising. Read more.

Plastic packaging tax

A tax of £200/tonne applies to plastic packaging manufactured in, or imported into the UK, that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Read more.

In April 2023, the government announced a consultation into moving the plastic packaging tax to a ‘mass balance’ approach to better accommodate chemical recycling.

Mandatory Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) reporting for large businesses

Listed companies, banks or insurers with more than 500 employees will be required to disclose climate-related financial risks in line with the existing TCFD standards. Read more.

Glitter ban comes into effect in EU

A new law banning the sale of microplastics has come into effect in the European Union (EU). The ban applies to any plastics smaller than 5mm in size that do not break down naturally. The personal care and cosmetics industries are likely to be most affected, as the ban includes glitter – although biodegradable glitter is exempt. The ban is part of a broader effort in the EU to address plastic pollution and its impact on ecosystems. Whilst the UK is not affected, any retailer selling in the EU must comply. Old stocks containing glitter may be sold until depleted. Read more.

Upcoming legislation

Minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) countdown

The grading criteria for buildings’ energy performance certificates (EPCS) is undergoing several revisions. Notably for retailers, by 2030, all non-domestic rented buildings must meet EPC grade B, with EPC C by 2027 a proposed interim requirement. Read more.

The Environment Act 2021 introduced measures banning the purchase of commodities that are the product of illegal deforestation. DEFRA is consulting on secondary legislation needed to enforce this law and give businesses guidance on compliance. Read more.

Eliminating single use items

The government has introduced a ban on a range of single-use plastic items including plastic plates, trays, bowls, cutlery, and polystyrene food containers. The ban will apply to retailers, takeaways, food vendors, and the hospitality industry and will kick in from October 2023. Read more.

Green claims review for fashion and FMCG retailers

The UK CMA is conducting sector-level investigations into green claims across FMCG and fashion retail. Read more.

Mandatory publication of Net Zero transition plans for large businesses

From 2023 large businesses will be required to publish a net zero transition plan to 2050. The treasury has established an industry task force to oversee the development of a “gold standard” for climate transition plans, set to be finalised this summer. Read more.

Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDRs)

Corporates will be required to disclose a range of sustainability information regarding governance, strategy, risk management, targets and metrics under the emergent Sustainability Disclosure Requirements (SDRs) framework. Consultation regarding this took place in 2022 and the final rules and guidance are expected in the first half of 2023. Read more.

Due diligence provisions to eliminate deforestation in supply chains

The Environment Act 2021 introduced measures banning the purchase of commodities that are the product of illegal deforestation. In 2022 DEFRA consulted on secondary legislation needed to enforce this law and give businesses guidance on compliance. The Government will publish its approach to implementing new legislation in due course. Read more.

Energy Bill

Among developments relating to energy pricing and supply, the Energy Bill will focus on new market standards to accelerate adoption of low carbon technologies such as hydrogen fuel and heat pumps, as well as advancing industrial carbon capture and storage. Read more.

Minimum efficiency standards for lighting

The Government has proposed new energy-efficiency standards for lighting in domestic and non-domestic properties. Performance standards would be higher than current EU legislation and would include only the most efficient LED bulbs being available in shops. If adopted, the proposals would come into force in late 2023. Read more.

EU chemical ban

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has unveiled a proposal that would ban the production, use and sale of around 10,000 per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the European Union. PFAS, often referred to as 'forever chemicals', are industrial chemicals that can take over 1000 years to degrade and are widely used in consumer products. The ECHA will invite public comment on the proposals from March 2023. Read more.

Increasing Extended Producer Responsibility for Packaging

From 2024, packaging producers must accept responsibility for the costs of their packaging throughout its life cycle. The reforms, which will see a phased approach across 2024-2025, are designed to encourage innovation and prompt organisations to design packaging that uses less material and is easier to recycle.

The imposition of charges for packaging has been postponed by one year from July 2023, so that producers will not have to bear them till 2025, rather than 2024 which was originally planned. However packaging data will still need to be submitted by producers for 2023. Read more.

EU Green Claims Directive

The EU Parliament voted to implement a directive which bans businesses from making deceptive or confusing green claims targeted at customers. The directive will introduce requirements to substantiate claims with life cycle data, and specifically explore the validation of certification schemes, noting the proliferation of eco-labels in the market was a cause of confusion for the public. Claims such as ‘climate-neutral’ or ‘carbon-neutral’ where offsets are used are likely to be banned. Similarly to the UK’s Green Claims Code, organisations will be mandated to ensure claims regarding a product’s positive environmental impact need to give information about negative impacts as well.

Changes are expected to roll out in 2026, giving EU states two years to make changes to their own laws. Read more.

UK Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill

The forthcoming Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill will give the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) powers to determine when consumer law is infringed outside of court. Breaches could result in fines of up to 10% of global turnover. The Bill is under development, but lawyers indicated that misleading environmental claims are likely to included, so the law would strengthen protections against greenwashing. Since the introduction of the Green Claims Code in 2021 even sustainable brands continue to fall foul of the regulator, who note that environmental claims are some of the most complex to construct. Read more.

EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD)

The EU have tabled mandatory reporting for large organisations to protect the environment and human rights across their own operations and supply chain. If adopted, organisations would need to demonstrate ‘prevention action plans’ and ensure that suppliers comply with the plans. Read more.  

Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD)

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) has been formally adopted by the European Union, taking effect from 2024. This directive expands and amends the existing Non-Financial Reporting Directive (NFRD), requiring companies to publish information on their sustainability strategy and objectives, as well as their impact on people and the environment. Reporting for CSRD will involve disclosing an extensive range of metrics, a double materiality assessment, alignment with the EU taxonomy/TCFD, and target setting. The CSRD aims to enhance transparency and comparability of sustainability data, helping businesses to be more accountable for their social and environmental footprint. Read more.

Mandatory water efficiency labelling for household goods to launch in  2025

It will soon be mandatory for all toilets, sinks, dishwashers and washing machines to come with water efficiency labelling. The development, designed to help the public minimise water use and save energy, will be finalised in 2024 with ambitions to launch in 2025. The format will echo similar requirements for energy efficiency labelling, using an A to F rating. Find out more.

UK Deforestation Due Diligence Law

At COP28 in Dubai, Defra announced new legislation to ensure that products containing palm oil, soy, leather, beef and cocoa will no longer linked to illegal deforestation. The UK Deforestation Due Diligence law is expected to apply to large businesses with a turnover of over £50m and will ban sourcing of these products from land illegally converted or deforested. Eligible businesses will also be required to undertake due diligence on their supply chains and report this annually for transparency.

Defra has not yet announced when the requirements will come into effect. Find out more.

Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013 – call for evidence

DEFRA is requesting evidence to support a reform of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013. The proposal document released alongside the consultation explains potential changes to the policy including increased collections of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) from households financed by producers, new producer obligations for online marketplaces and fulfilment houses, and dealing with the environmental impacts of vaping products. Disposable vapes are expected to be banned from sale imminently.

The collected evidence from this consultation will contribute to advising wider policy changes and development to support the circular economy and net zero obligations.

Reforms to the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations policy could start as early as next year, and household collection potentially polling out in 2026. This call for evidence closes at 11:45pm on 7 March 2024. Read more.

Voluntary disclosures

Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)

Initially developed as a voluntary disclosure to improve organisational reporting of climate-related financial risks and opportunities, reporting on Taskforce for Climate Related Disclosures (TCFD) is now mandatory for the largest UK-registered companies.

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) was announced to take over the monitoring and duties of the TCFD in July 2023. Global investor-focused sustainability criteria are to be standardised by ISSB. Since the ISSB standards completely reflect the TCFD suggestions, there won't likely be any significant changes for those who report to TCFD. Read More.

Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD)

The Taskforce on Nature-Related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) is a risk management and disclosure framework for organisations to report and act on nature-related risks such as biodiversity loss and other impacts to natural capital. The framework published its final recommendations in September 2023. Read more.

CDP 

CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) is the global disclosure system for companies and investors to manage their environmental impacts. CDP is the gold standard for corporate environmental reporting and is fully aligned with the TCFD recommendations. CDP covers disclosures across Climate Change, Forests and Water. 2023 will see organisations asked to disclose on plastics for the first time through CDP’s water questionnaire. Read more.

International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB)

The International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) is a standard-setting body working to develop an international baseline standard for sustainability disclosures. ISSB aims to unite the fragmented reporting standards and quality among different regions and nations. This ISSB has issued its first two finalised frameworks, IFRS S1 and IFRS S2, with an expectation that the first corporate reports aligned with them will be published in 2025. It is anticipated that the ISSB standard will become the dominant framework for sustainability reporting.

IFRS S1 is the “core baseline” of sustainability reporting and is applicable to all large businesses. It covers company impact, including emissions across all scopes and waste management.

IFRS S2 is concerned with climate mitigation and climate adaptation and builds on existing disclosure frameworks in this field, mainly the Taskforce on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Find out more here.

TCFD Climate Scenario Tool for Food, Agriculture and Forest Products

A free online tool created by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development allows users to investigate possible climate change scenarios that are relevant to the food, agriculture, and forest products industries while navigating by specific variables and compare, visualise and download output data. The tool aids users in assessing their value chains' strategic resilience to climate risk and provides information for disclosures in response to the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). Read more.

80m of funding announced to help UK businesses decarbonise

The UK government has announced over £80 million in funding to support businesses in their efforts to reduce carbon emissions. This funding aims to help companies shift from fossil fuels to cleaner alternatives. Projects funded so far range from hydrogen-powered cornflake production to low carbon whisky distillation. Find out more here.