Selective Sustainability – RILA Reports Retail Executives Keep Sustainability In Mind

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In a report released on March 7 by Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA),  sustainability will be a large component of focus among the business practices of major retailers over the next two years.

According to RILA’s vice president of sustainability and retail operations, Adam Siegel, “All of the trends are upward. Everyone is projecting that they’re going to be working on far more in the next few years than they are today.”

97% of survey respondents reported that they were “already working on waste and recycling in their facilities” with 94% claiming a focus on energy usage.

This is all well and good, however, taking responsible for waste and energy usage is only a tiny portion of being a truly sustainable enterprise. Let’s push the boundaries a little more and see what respondents said about the more important aspects of sustainable business practices.

Issue                                                          Percentage of Respondents Addressing the Issue

End-of-life disposal of products         48%

Manufacturing Impacts                        52%

Factory labor conditions                      48%

When looking at the data from this perspective (with the belief that these major issues should have been at the very forefront of importance) the positivity that seems to be beaming from the report seems much less bright and promising. The environmental and human welfare implications of these large mass merchants are massive, and executives should not be rewarded or condoned for their backwards afterthought of the consequences their business practices have. If anything, this report should highlight the need to make businesses acknowledge what it truly means to be sustainable, not accepting their interpretation to be selective in what the term actually means.

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