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Companies on the forefront of retail sustainability

By MarketDial / Sep 21, 2022

The third installation of MarketDial’s three-part series exploring the necessity of retail sustainability; we highlight the great efforts, progress, and goals already being made within the industry.

Who’s leading the retail sustainability charge?

Looking for ways to be motivated by current retail sustainability trends and efforts? Here’s a (fairly exhaustive but also non-exhaustive) list of what many pivotal retailers are doing to make a global impact on sustaining our planet.

If there are additional efforts being made that deserve a shout out, let us know. We’re happy to add and to recognize all outstanding sustainable achievements within the industry.

For more sustainability highlights, check out these resources:
World Benchmarking Alliance, food and agriculture benchmark
50 top CPG company sustainability commitments
CDP: The A List 2021
Newsweek America’s most responsible companies 2022
Barron’s 100 most sustainable companies
35 sustainable clothing brands betting against fast fashion
Corporate Knights 100 most sustainable corporations of 2022

And, whether you are a new company looking for direction on how to begin or a current company striving for optimal solutions, always bear in mind that in-store testing can provide definitive data to help guide each sustainable initiative and decision.

Ready to get inspired?

Click on a company below to explore how they are innovating sustainable solutions.

Companies are arranged in alphabetical order. Industries featured include consumer packaged goods, convenience, fashion, grocery, and retail. The synopses here primarily focus on GHG (Scope 1 and 2 emissions), packaging, waste, and water, but many of these companies are doing incredible projects with people and community and more. Be sure to check out their individual sites and reports for more inspiration and in-depth information.

Adidas will replace all virgin polyester with recycled polyester by 2024, and by 2025, nine out of ten of their articles will contain sustainable content. They also are working to create products such as Allbirds that reduce their carbon footprint.

Albertson’s by 2025 100% of their packaging will be recyclable, reusable, or compostable, and they will use 20% recycled materials for their own brands. They have completed 800 energy efficiency projects that will annually save 2 million metric tons of CO2; enabled 160+ EV charging stations; recycled more than 880 million pounds of cardboard; recycled 26 million pounds of plastic bags and film; and have attained 100% US EPA Smart Way certification for their private fleet.

Aldi in 2021 they donated 33 million pounds of food to help combat hunger and recycled nearly 350,000 tons of material. By 2025, they will achieve zero waste by diverting 90% of waste through recycling; 100% of their products will be reusable, recyclable, or compostable. In addition 500 stores are using refrigerants with near-zero global warming potential, and 120 stores use solar panels.

Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc ranked as a top-rated environmental, social, and corporate governance performer by Sustainalytics; they have installed over 1,000 EV chargers, are one of the leading suppliers of HVO biofuel, were the first retailer to trial carbon neutral Power-to-X eFuel, and recover 80% of water from car washes.

Anheuser-Busch aims to have 100% of its breweries utilizing water efficiency practices by 2025. They have 39.9% renewable electricity currently operational with 81.4% renewable electricity contracted. By 2025, 100% of their products will be in packaging that is returnable or made from majority recycled content.

Apple has been carbon neutral since 2020. They have decreased emissions by 40% and have 100% renewable energy sources across their facilities. They aim to eliminate all plastic from packaging by 2025, having already reduced it by 75%. Over 100 of their facilities are verified zero waste. Additionally by 2030 their products will be created with net zero carbon impact.

Associated British Foods 54% of their energy comes from renewables, 79% of the waste generated is sent to recycling, and 25% of their water is reused.

Beiersdorf AG currently has 100% green energy; is working to reduce water consumption per product by 25%; and aims to have 100% of their packaging refillable, reusable, or recyclable by 2025.

Best Buy has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2040. They operate the nation’s largest e-waste recycling program and have set a goal to achieve 85% waste diversion across U.S. operations by 2025. They also aim to reduce enterprise water usage by 15% by 2025.

Caleres has three major facilities LEED certified. The polyester used in their brands is comprised of 37% environmentally preferred materials, and 25% of shoes to be sold in Famous Footwear locations will use environmentally-friendly materials by 2025.

Campbell’s Soup aims to reduce GHG by 42%, water use by 20%, waste sent to landfills by 25%, food waste by 50%, and transition to 100% recyclable or compostable packaging by 2030 or sooner.

Casey’s has saved 3.3 driving miles, installed 114 EV charging stations, and generated over 3.5 million pounds of cardboard from recycling.

The Clorox Company is aiming for 50% combined reduction in virgin plastic and fiber packaging by 2030; 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2050; and zero-waste-to-landfill by 2030.

Colgate-Palmolive is working to achieve 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025 and net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Additionally they are working towards 100% renewable electricity; 100% zero waste operations; and net zero water in water-stressed areas by 2030.

Coca-Cola aims to make 100% of their packaging recyclable by 2025 and to use 50% recycled materials by 2030. Of the bottles and cans introduced in 2021, 61% were collected and refilled or collected for recycling. By 2030, they hope to achieve 100% regenerative water use.

Conagra Brands is committed to reducing GHG by 20% by 2030. They currently boast 10 zero waste facilities with 87% company-wide waste diversion.

Cotopaxi is climate neutral certified. They are working to have 100% of their product line be made of responsible and non-virgin materials. And, they seek to eliminate single-use plastics by the end of 2022. Currently 94% of their materials contain repurposed, recycled, or responsible materials with a goal to reach 100% by 2025.

Crocs already has a low carbon footprint of 2.56 kg CO2 per pair of classic clogs, but they still are working towards reaching Net Zero by 2030. In 2021, they became a 100% vegan brand and are working to integrate ECOLIBRIUM technology that transforms waste and by-products into a shoe with lower emissions.

CVS by 2030 they seek to reduce their environmental impact by 50% and achieve carbon neutrality. By 2040 they aim to have 50% of their energy come from renewable sources, and by 2050 the hope to have net-zero emissions. In addition 96% of their paper is sustainably sourced, and by phasing out print circulars, they have reduced paper use by 70%.

Danone in 2021 68.5% of electricity purchased was renewable with a goal to achieve 100% by 2030; 84% of their packaging was recyclable, reusable, or compostable; and 55% of their facilities have a water stewardship action plan.

Diageo by 2030 they aim to reduce water 50%; return 100% of wastewater to the environment safely; reduce GHG by 50%; achieve zero waste to landfill; and ensure 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging with 100% recycled content in all plastic bottles.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is striving to achieve a 30% reduction in GHG emissions by 2030 and to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags by 2025. For their Public Lands stores, they have reused over 80% of materials and made sustainable selections for new items.

Estee Lauder seeks to reduce GHG emissions by 50% by 2030 and have achieved zero-waste for 100% of their global manufacturing. By upgrading the water-softening system in their Blaine, Minnesota facility, the reduced water use by 600,000 gallons per year.

Everlane seeks 55% lower per product carbon emissions by 2030 with net zero emissions by 2050. As of 2021, 97% of their polyester and nylon apparel are made from recycled fibers; 45% of their plastic footwear is made from recycled products; and 100% of their virgin plastic shipping bags are made from either recycled plastic or FSC-certified paper. They are moving all their cotton to certified organic by 2023 and will be one of the first companies to make clean denim.

Gap Inc. aims for net-positive water impact in water-stressed regions by 2050. They also aim to have a water-resilient value chain by 2050. By 2023, they hope to have created greater access to clean water for 2 million people. By 2030 they will have 100% renewable electricity for their facilities and will reduce GHG emissions by 90%.

General Mills, Inc. seeks to reduce GHG by 30%, regenerate 1 million acres of farmland, have 100% product packaging be recyclable, source 100% renewable electricity, and achieve zero waste to landfill by 2030 or sooner.

Hanes Brands aims for a 50% reduction in emissions and a 25% reduction in water use by 2030. They are already diverting 92% of facility waste to a landfill, recycling over 100 million pounds of fabric, corrugate, plastic, and other materials with a goal of zero waste by 2025.

Harley Davidson aims for net zero carbon emissions by 2050 for products and operations, with a 50% reduction by 2030. To achieve this, they are focusing on 1) electrifying motorcycles, 2) improving fuel economy of vehicles, and 3) reducing the impacts of products and operations.

Heineken seeks to decarbonize production by 2030 with a net zero value chain by 2040, and currently 23 of their 31 sites in water-stressed locations have started watershed protection programs. They are committed to reaching zero waste for all their production facilities by 2025, with 118 of their 166 sites already landfill free.

Henkel Corporation seeks to reduce the carbon footprint of production sites by 2025 and source 100% of purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Additionally by 2025, 100% of their packaging will be recyclable or reusable, they will reduce the use of fossil plastics by 50% and have zero waste.

The Hersey Company aims to have a 50% reduction in GHG; 100% plastic packaging be recyclable, reusable, or compostable; and 25 million pounds of packaging to be eliminated by 2030. They also place a significant focus on humane sourcing.

Home Depot has reduced carbon emissions by about 172,000 metric tons, decreased electricity consumption by 50%, redesigned 286 packages to eliminate 1,119,700 square feet of PVC film. They aim to procure 100% renewable electricity by 2030, reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 (and 50% by 2035), and completely eliminate EPS foam and PVC film from private-brand packaging by 2023.

Home Goods aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2040; source 100% renewable energy and shift 100% of the packaging for products to be reusable, recyclable or sustainable by 2030; and divert 85% of their waste from landfill by 2027.

Hormel Foods reduced water use by over 42 million gallons, and by 2021 almost 83% of their product packaging was recyclable with 30% made from recyclables. They also reduced GHG emissions by 21,000 metric tons.

The House of LR&C has certified as a B-Corp with a score of 94.9, the average being 50.9. They designed the company from the beginning to meet UN standards. From fabric to green factories, sustainability is their core value. They utilize organic cotton and recycled polyester to create products that require less frequent washes on the consumer end.

The J.M. Smucker Co. is working towards zero waste and reducing GHG emissions by 28% by 2030; they plan to reduce energy and water intensity each by 5% by 2025.

John Deere has recycled over 27.8 million pounds through remanufacturing and has reduced GHG emissions by 20%. Their sustainable innovations are resulting in hundreds of gallons of fuel being saved and thousands of metric tons in carbon reductions. In addition, they have reduced the amount of water consumed in their Dewas India location by 50%.

Johnson & Johnson by 2025 they will source 100% of their electricity from renewable sources, and by 2030 they will achieve carbon neutrality for their operations. In 2021, they diverted over 150,000 tons of waste from disposal and recycled fiber waste into 500,000 mops. Their global health portfolio is also extensive.

Keurig Dr Pepper by 2025 they will convert 100% of packaging to be recyclable or compostable; send zero waste to landfill; obtain 100% of electricity from renewable sources; reduce emissions by 30%; improve water use efficiency by 20%; and partner with high risk areas to replenish 100% of water used in beverage production.

Kellogg Company aims to reduce GHG emissions by 45% by 2030; achieve 100% renewable electricity in manufacturing facilities by 2050; reduce water use in high stress areas by 30% by 2030; achieve 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging by the end of 2025; and reduce food waste by 50% by 2030.

Kimberly-Clark by 2030 they will advance the well-being of 1 billion people in vulnerable and underserved communities, reduce their plastic footprint by 50%, reduce their natural (Northern) Forest Fiber footprint by 50%, reduce their absolute GHG emissions by 50%, and reduce their water footprint of their mills in water stressed areas by 50%.

Kraft Heinz aims to make 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025. They also aim to reduce water use intensity in high-risk watershed areas and to reduce waste to landfill intensity by 20% by 2025.

Kroger has a zero hunger, zero waste action plan in place. So far they have given $1 billion to hunger relief and donated 500 million pounds of surplus food. By 2025 they hope to reach 95% retail food waste diversion; phase out single-use plastic shopping bags; achieve 100% recyclable, compostable, or reusable packaging; and reduce GHG emissions by 30%.

L’Oreal aims to have 100% of their packaging recyclable by 2025 with 100% of their plastic products used from recycled or bio-based sources by 2030. In addition 100% of the generated waste will be recycled or reused by 2030, and 100% of water used in industrial processes will be recycled and reused.

Lowe’s retrofitted over 1,000 building management systems, reducing energy consumption. They recycle cardboard, scrap wood, plastic, single-use batteries, lightbulbs, and fluorescent tubes. Many of their products support a reduction in their consumers’ use of energy and water.

Lululemon seeks to achieve 100% renewable electricity by 2021, reduce GHG emissions by 60%, make 100% of their products with sustainable material by 2030, and reduce water use by at least 20% by 2025. They also are designing products with circularity in mind to help reduce waste.

Mars, Incorporated is working to redesign 12,000 packaging types with a goal to make 100% of their packaging be reusable, recyclable, or compostable. They aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2040 and to halve their unsustainable water use by 2025 with a longer-term goal of eliminating it completely from their value chain.

Maverik just announced it is expanding its food waste initiative, donating 276,878 pounds of surplus food from 87 convenience stores.

Meijer has reduced energy use in its stores by 30%, they have operated a 100% clean-diesel fleet since 2014, and they have installed EV charging stations at 20% of their stores. By 2025, they will reduce absolute carbon emissions by 50%. They have achieved a 95% waste diversion rate at five food manufacturing plants, and by 2025 will have reached 70% diversion fleet wide. In addition, by 2025, 100% of their packaging will be recyclable, reusable, or compostable.

McCormick & Company by 2025 seeks to reduce GHG emissions by 42% and water use by 20%. They also aim to increase solid waste recycling by 85% and have 100% of plastic packaging be reusable, recyclable, or repurposed.

Microsoft has been carbon neutral since 2012 and aims to be carbon negative by 2030. Additionally, by 2030 they will remove more carbon than they emit, and by 2050 they will have removed as much carbon as all their historical emissions. They hope to replenish more water than they use by 2030, reducing water use in datacenter opps by 95% by 2024. All Surface, Xbox-related products, and product packaging will be 100% recyclable by 2030.

Molson Coors by 2025 they will make products with 22% less water; restore 3.5 billion gallons of water; grow barley with 10% less water; reduce carbon emissions by 50% in direct operations and by 20% across value chain; ensure 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable product packaging; and achieve zero waste to landfill.

Mondelez by 2021 they achieved 95% recyclable packaging with the goal of 100% by 2025. In addition they aim to achieve a net zero waste goal by 2025 along with a 10% CO2 emissions reduction and a 10% absolute water usage reduction.

Murphy’s has decreased GHG emissions by 23%, with a net zero goal by 2050 and increased recycled water use by 13% from 2020-2021.

Nestle has eliminated 4.5 billion straws in 2021, switched 250 packs of Smarties to recyclable packaging, and committed to a 50% proportion of recycled PET in bottles by 2025. They are on target to reach 100% deforestation-free primary supply chains and 63.7 renewable electricity. They reached 98 million total water withdrawal from all areas in 2021.

Newell Brands aims to reach carbon neutrality by 2040, 90% waste to landfill reduction by 2025, and to have 30% of their electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. In addition, by 2025 they will eliminate the use of PVC and EPS in all packaging, source 100% of paper-based, direct-sourced packaging from recyclables, and use recycled content in 20% of plastic packaging.

New Season’s Markets aims to reduce food waste by 50% by 2030, achieve ENERGY STAR certification in 25% of their stores, and reach 60% landfill diversion.

Nike has developed a new knit fleece material that reduces the carbon footprint by 75% compared to traditional fleece. They maintain a goal to reach zero carbon and zero waste, implementing recycling, refurbishing, and donation programs. In addition, they have partnered with Home Depot to divert materials from landfills,and use them to make new products, including gym flooring tiles and carpet.

On’s new foam for its running shoes was created with carbon emissions. As they explain it, “LanzaTech uses a combination of cutting-edge genetic engineering, state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, and innovations in mechanical and chemical engineering to manufacture chemicals using a process that soaks up carbon rather than emitting it.”

Parkland Fuel aims to reduce their GHG emissions by 15% per barrel and by 40% per site by 2030. In addition, they aim to reduce customers’ GHG emissions by 1MT by 2026 with low-carbon fuel options. They also are working to reduce single-use items in C-stores.

Patagonia‘s Yvon Chouinard recently penned, “Earth is now our only shareholder.” And with that guiding philosophy, they make 89% of their fabrics with preferred materials, 100% of their down is responsibly sourced, and 100% of the virgin cotton in their clothes is grown organically.

PCC Markets integrates deep green design features – such as collecting 150,000 gallons of roof rainwater – into store designs and was the first grocery store in the nation to earn the LEED award.

PepsiCo has pledged to achieve net zero emissions by 2040, 100% recyclable packaging by 2025, and “aims to replenish more than 100% of the water [they] draw for [their] operations and 100% of the water [they] use in third-party manufacturing facilities in high-risk watersheds by 2030.”

Petco aims to increase the amount of sustainable products by 50% by 2025. They have diverted 64% of waste, installed 853 water saving bath systems, saved more than 65,000 pounds of packaging material, and installed energy management systems throughout 98% of their pet centers, reducing carbon output by 2,828 metric tons.

Post Holdings, Inc. is committed to no deforestation and to reducing GHG emissions by 30% by 2030. New projects have led to a 20% decrease in natural gas usage and have decreased their water usage by 17.8% in a single year. They also aim for zero waste within five years.

P&G has set a goal to reach net zero emissions across all operations by 2040. By 2030, they aim to have 100% recyclable packaging, and by 2021 they had sourced 3.1 billion liters of water form circular sources.

Puma is not only making biodegradable shoes, they are creating tights and shoes made with at least 70% recycled materials. They aim to use 75% recycled polyester for all their accessories and clothing by 2025.

REI has sourced 100% of their electricity from renewable sources since 2013, they reached climate neutrality in 2020, and by 2030 they aim to reduce greenhouse emissions by 55%. They also aim to have 100% of their products contain a preferred sustainability attribute by 2030 and are working towards a goal of zero waste, having reach 83% waste diversion by 2021.

Sauputo, Inc by 2025 they aim to reduce CO2 by 20%, reduce energy of operations by 10%, reduce water intensity by 10%, reduce total waste by 25%, reduce food waste by 50%, and ensure 100% of packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable.

Serta Simmons Bedding spring systems use recycled steel; their foams are made without harmful chemicals; and they source from sustainable forests. They implement processes that conserve energy and reduce water usage. Their mattress recycling program has diverted millions of pounds of waste.

7-Eleven, the largest c-store retailer with 13,000 stores, has committed to 100% wind energy for 800+ stores, has confirmed plans that add EV charging sites to 250 locations, and has eliminated 437,000 pounds of plastic. They have currently reduced their CO2 emissions by 25.76%, shifted to 61.6% eco-friendly packaging, and donated over 10 million to community organizations, including Feeding America.

Target aims to be the market leader for sustainable, inclusive bands, to achieve zero waste to landfill, and to use 100% renewable-sourced energy by 2030. They hope to achieve a net zero enterprise by 2040. They were the first retailer to introduce a comprehensive chemicals management network across their entire value chain.

Tesco was the first business to set a zero carbon goal in 2009. Since 2015, they have reduced emissions by 52% with a goal to be carbon neutral by 2035 and net zero by 2050. They redistribute 83% of unsold food that is safe to eat. They have removed 1.6 billion pieces of plastic since 2019, and 100% of their purchased electricity is renewable.

Tommy Hilfiger recently joined with ThredUp to launch a clothing resale program. In addition, they seek to have net zero emissions by 2050. In 2019, they made 600,000 pieces of denim with at least 20% post-consumer recycled cotton and reduced the water use to just 10 litres per pair.

Tractor Supply has reduced carbon emissions by 38.9%, has already met their goal of substituting electric consumption with renewable electric power, and has set the goal to conserve 25 million gallons of water by 2025. They have recycled over 99,000 gallons of oil; 32,610 tons of cardboard; 4.3 million wood pallets; and 392,000 vehicle batteries.

Unilever aims to achieve zero emissions in their operations by 2030 and in their value chain by 2039. Since 2008, they have reduced the volume of water use in manufacturing sites by 49% per tonne.

Vans by 2030, 100% of their top 4 CO2 impact materials will be regenerative, responsibly sourced, renewable, or recycled. By 2025, they will eliminate single-use plastics from all their packaging.

Walgreens by 2030 they seek to reduce food waste by 50%, global carbon emissions by 30%, and plastics in packaging by 30%. They also seek to have 100% of their packaging be recyclable, reusable, or compostable. By the end of 2021, Boots UK was almost 100% plastic-free with online deliveries.

WalMart seeks to use 100% renewable energy by 2035, zero emissions by 2040, and low-impact refrigerants by 2040. They also aim to protect, manage, or restore at least 50 million acres of land and 1 million square miles of ocean. They are working towards zero waste, and they aim to reach 100% recyclable, reusable, or compostable packaging by 2025.

Wawa achieved 100% sustainably sourced coffee in 2020.

Whirlpool strives to be net zero by 2030 and to use 18% recycled plastics by 2025. They set the goal to reach zero waste to landfill in 2012 and will reach that by the end of 2022.

Woolworths aims to have 100% green electricity by 2025. They have removed 10,000 tons of virgin plastic packaging, donated 50 million meals, and reduced carbon emissions by 31%.

Xerox seeks to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040. As of 2020, 100% of all their new, eligible products achieved ENERGY STAR. They currently recycle water using reverse osmosis reject water, and by 2017, they had reduced water consumption by 35%. They also have instituted a robust product takeback and recycling program.

To learn more about sustainability and how testing can support sustainable initiatives, check out these resources:

The psychology of retail sustainability
Why and how to achieve retail sustainability
Testing to thrive in today’s retail landscape