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Published September 24, 2007 04:15 PM

Retail Association Unveils Sustainability Initiative

Arlington, VA - The Retail Industry Leaders Association - known as 'RILA' - announced a new sustainability initiative with two main objectives. The group wants to push socially sustainable activities and business practices for retailers and ensure that members are recognized by customers and policymakers for leadership in environmental stewardship.

The association promotes consumer choice and economic freedom through public policy and industry operational excellence. Its members include the largest and fastest growing companies in the retail industry; retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers - which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales. Members employ millions of people and operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

“For years, our members have been embracing stewardship and sustainability,” explains RILA President Sandy Kennedy. “Through the RSI, we will gather the leading retail companies in the country to advance activities and business practices that will move the industry forward as a whole.”

Recent shifts in the retail landscape around sustainability include:

Best Buy Recently announced plans to build exclusively U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) certified eco-friendly stores by mid-2008, potentially reducing overall energy consumption by a third.

·         IKEA - All stores have an Environmental Coordinator on staff to monitor operations.  All new hires are required to participate in an environmental education program.

·         Office Depot - Recently achieved a 10.1 percent absolute reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from natural gas and electricity consumed in its North American retail stores, warehouses and offices.

·         REI - Portland, Ore., location became the first retail store in the country to earn LEED-Commercial Interior (CI)® Gold.  In 2006, REI’s Pittsburgh store earned LEED-CI Silver certification.

·         TTarget - has programs to recycle corrugated cardboard, electronics, shrinkwrap, roofing tiles, and construction waste.  Soon 18 stores will use 20 percent solar energy gathered by rooftop panels.

Wal –Mart - 22 stores operate with 30 percent solar energy, harnessed with on-site panels. 

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he group plan to become the leading forum for the retail industry to design programs and solutions for environmental compliance and voluntary sustainability leadership. Casey Chroust, RILA’s senior vice president of retail operations says, “The new initiative is unique in its action versus discussion approach.” He will be spearheading the RSI for the association.

Environmental sustainability is a key focus for the association, according to its strategic plan approved by the board of directors in January 2007. In addition to incorporating sustainability within its functional areas, such as supply chain, RILA also researched how to establish a framework that allows discussion and movement of the topic on its own. This research led to the development of the RSI.

RILA will be supported in its efforts from two partners: Navista, Inc., The Public Affairs Group and the Shaw Group. Navista is a Washington, DC-based firm that will provide strategic and tactical support with regard to RSI’s sustainability and environmental regulatory objectives. The Shaw Group is a full service environmental consulting and management company that has worked with many national and regional retail companies on issues of compliance and sustainability. The RSI will be open to RILA members and non-members.

“We are looking forward to engaging more retailers in actions around sustainability,” Chroust continued. “Environmental stewardship is going to play a growing role in retail operations, and we believe the RSI will assist retailers both on the environmental regulatory front and with broader-based sustainability issues.”


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