Boots CSR drive cuts supply chain packaging costs by £1.3m

The UK's leading high street pharmaceutical chain Boots has reduced annual packaging costs in its supply chain by £1.3m since implementing a new product sustainability process in 2009.

The process has also helped reduced packaging on Boots’ Christmas lines by 1,400 tonnes. Most items now sold throughout the stores feature reduced outer packaging, according to the company’s head of corporate responsibility, Richard Ellis.

Speaking to recruitment consultancy Allen & York, Ellis – who heads up CSR across the Alliance Boots Group – outlined some of the organisation’s key achievements in waste management and energy efficiency since he took up the role two years ago.

He said the company has operated an on-site recycling facility at its Nottingham support office for the past 50 years, which processes paper and card, soft mixed plastic, glass, printer toner cartridges and 35mm film pots from many of the Boots stores.

“All our regional cross dock centres recycle cardboard and act as transit points for our stores to send recyclable material back to our Nottingham support office for bulking up and collection by recycling contractors,” he said, adding that over 23,200 tonnes of materials are collected and recycled each year.

“In our automated central distribution centre in Nottingham we recover the transit packaging, cardboard and plastic which we have removed from our suppliers’ deliveries. This makes life simpler for our stores and reduces the demand within our supply chain for returning packaging waste,” he continued.

As part of the Alliance Boots May Day Commitment, one of the targets is to reduce the carbon footprint of Boots legacy stores by 30% (compared to 2005) by 2020. Ellis said the company was looking into redefining equipment standards to incorporate low energy technology within the stores in order to achieve this.

“An employee engagement programme will take place to embed carbon reduction into the working culture of the business. As a contribution to revenue growth, CSR supports the company reputation as an ethical business contributing to reduction in carbon emissions – this will enable customers to ‘feel good’ by shopping at Boots,” he said.

Ellis added that the company has investment plans for energy reduction projects of £5M per annum across the whole portfolio of stores. These range from replacing inefficient lighting to full HVAC upgrades and LED signage.

Maxine Perella

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