Responsible Retail

Last updated: 28th July 2021

At the Woodland Trust, we are proud to work with our generous partners to help us plant and protect trees. Speaking on the Edie: Sustainable Business Covered podcast, our head of partnerships Pip Borrill discussed how the Trust prides itself on creating bespoke partnerships that are mutually beneficial. She also explained how we recognise that every business has a different motivation, consumer base and audience but ultimately, we are all united by nature and everything we do is underpinned by the natural world. Here, we focus on our retail partners and their current initiatives to become more responsible retailers.

One of our long-established partnerships, Sainsbury’s began working with the Woodland Trust over 17 years ago, with the discovery that trees have several benefits for hens, who like to shelter under their branches. Hens are happy to range further, leading to increased egg productivity and health benefits. Sainsbury’s worked with the Trust to plant trees across their chicken farms and as such, launched Woodland Eggs back in 2004. Since then, they have also launched Woodland Chicken and Turkey, funded more than 25,000 Woodland Trust free tree packs, and their farmers have planted over a million trees with the help and support of the Trust.

Sainsbury’s sustainability targets and commitments aims to demonstrate how they can play their part in helping improve the food system so that it works better for the planet. Their current targets include working to become net zero in their own operations by 2040, reducing plastic packaging by 50% by 2025, reducing food waste by 50% by 2030 and making it easier for customers and colleagues to properly recycle materials in Sainsbury’s stores. Moreover, Sainsbury’s has invested significantly in renewable energies, with 100% of stores set to be LED-lit by 2022 and 170 stores fitted with rainwater harvesting facilities, both of which are now fitted as standard in new stores. In addition to this, the retailer has installed solar panel plants to 237 stores generating over 41 megawatts of electricity per year.

Ruth Cranston, Group Head of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at Sainsbury’s, said: “The environmental challenges facing the world has never been greater and, at Sainsbury’s, we want to play our part in tackling climate change while helping our customers make more sustainable choices too. It’s why we have set ambitious sustainability targets such as reaching Net Zero in our operations by 2040 and reducing our use of plastic packaging by 50% by 2025. Collaborating with organisations, like the Woodland Trust, is key to helping us achieve our sustainability goals and we’re delighted to be one of their longest standing partners. We’re proud of what we’ve achieved through our partnership including planting 4.2 million native trees so far, with the potential to mitigate one million tonnes of carbon dioxide. We know there is still a long way to go to meet the climate challenge but by working together with our colleagues, customers and partners, we can drive lasting change.”

One of our newest partnerships, DFS, are working with the Woodland Trust to tackle climate change and launch their ‘Planting Promise’ to plant a tree for every furniture order placed, plus planting a further 94,000 trees to mitigate their CO2 emissions through our Woodland Carbon Scheme.

DFS have developed several initiatives to see them reduce the impact of their operations on the environment, including the ‘Sofa Cycle’ strategy that aims to review every stage of the process from how materials are sourced to how products are designed, made, recovered, and then recycled.

Their ‘Sofa Rescue’ scheme, developed in partnership with Clearabee, ensures sofas are disposed of in an eco-friendly, responsible way through collecting products from customers’ houses when they are no longer needed and recycling as many components as possible. This has saved over 60,000 pieces of furniture from landfill to date. Their ‘Grand Designs’ initiative, launched earlier this year, saw the products in this range made wholly from recycled plastics and sustainable materials.

Nick Smith, CEO at DFS saysAt DFS we want to lead change in the upholstery industry and find better ways of designing, making, selling, delivering, and ultimately disposing and recycling sofas. Our strategy is based on foundation activities that ensure we minimise our day-to-day operational impact on the environment, such as wood and leather sourcing, energy and water management and packaging and recycling programmes. We recognise that we’re at the start of our sustainability journey but we’re putting in a lot of work to ensure our business grows on the right ethical foundations and is net zero by 2040.”

The Woodland Trust partnership with Selfridges aims to see them plant 15,000 trees in the Northern Forest, a natural solution to help tackle the climate crisis. Since 2018, employees have volunteered to plant 12,000 trees close to Selfridges stores across the UK. Selfridges have had sustainability at the heart of their business for over 15 years, and their latest initiative, ‘Project Earth’, looks at how we can change the way we shop by 2025 and aims to offer an alternative perspective on retail and a sustainable future.

To date, Selfridges have taken steps to reduce the impact of their operations on the environment, including ensuring the most environmentally impactful materials used in products across the business come from certified, sustainable sources by 2025, demonstrating the possibility and power of circular retail through their resale, rental, refill and repair initiatives and working towards net zero through reducing greenhouse gas emissions from their stores and offices by 2030.

Our partnership with Sofology sees us work together on their ‘PlanTree’ initiative which will see them plant 300,000 trees between 2020 and 2023, one for every sofa order placed. They have also funded the planting of over 17,000 trees through our Woodland Carbon Scheme, which over their 100-year lifespan will mitigate Sofology’s carbon emissions for the year. Sofology have also devoted to providing furniture that their customers will love with little impact on the environment, are committed to the principles of the ‘Sofa Rescue’ scheme initiative and are consciously working to ensure all materials used in production are sustainably sourced by 2025.

Kate Wright, Group Head of ESG, DFS Group, says “It is very clear from all of our research that consumers truly want to do the right thing and contribute to help protect our collective home. We are tackling every area we can to be more sustainable, such as all of our stores being powered by green energy, removing and recycling all our plastic transit bags post-delivery, and using eco fabrics that are recyclable and eco sofas that are foam free. What’s more, we have an initiative for the responsible disposal of old sofas that avoids landfill while also working on sustainable sourcing policies for all materials and making commitments to achieve a net zero position by 2040. We strive to work with colleagues and suppliers alike to develop new, innovative, environmentally friendly ways of working, and that’s exciting.”

Partnered since 2018, Joules are working with the Trust to achieve their target of planting a quarter of a million trees in the fight against climate change by the end of 2022. They are committed to recognising the challenges business growth brings and how they can reduce environmental impact as much as possible.

Joules focus on four key areas to help support everything they are working towards, including sustainable sourcing strategies for the materials they use, respecting the environment they draw their inspiration from and working to extend the life cycle of all products, funding charities playing crucial roles in supporting the lives of children, young adults and families and the environment around them, as well as assisting the Joules family and their internal commitments to quality, value and service.

The latest addition to our partner portfolio, Pets at Home are currently focusing their sustainability efforts on three key areas: pets, people and planet. Their new social value strategy “ Our Better World Pledge” includes long term ambitious goals to become net zero across it’s value chain by 2040; to positively impact the life of every pet in the UK by 2030 and to enhance the lives of 1 million people through a shared love of pets by 2030. Current initiatives to support these goals include a flexible plastics recycling initiative targeting pet food pouches; the programmes within the Pets at Home Foundation, the biggest grant giver to animal rescues in the UK who also awards grants to Pet and People charities. Since 2006 it has raised over £35m. Pets at Home Group are delighted that the Vet Group has launched the Pet Memory Scheme with the Woodland Trust.


If your organisation is looking for new ways to make a difference or to find out how you can partner with the Woodland Trust, please head to our website, email us at [email protected] or call us on 0330 333 5306. 

N.B. The information contained in this entry is provided by the above supplier, and does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher

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