Four Retailers making substantial Sustainability announcements in 2012

Best practices , Greening the Supply Chain Oct 16, 2012 No Comments

Dear Readers:

We thought our readers might find this of interest. It’s short on details, but suggests a growing trend towards more sustainable retailing and sustainable supply chains amongst companies of varying sizes.

Tom Bowers
President, Virescent Consultants

SustainabilityIn the last few years, many national companies have committed to more sustainable practices. Many retailers are building solar-powered stores, while delivery companies like UPS and Fed-Ex include more hybrid vehicles in their fleets.

Many green initiatives happen behind the scenes, but more retailers are extending their sustainable practices to the products they sell. In 2012, several companies made groundbreaking decisions, moving towards more environmentally conscious retailing.

Trader Joe’s : Although this German-owned grocery chain is notoriously secretive about its sourcing practices, in 2012 the company publicly committed to using only sustainable ingredients in food branded with the Trader Joe’s private label. Specifically, Trader Joe’s banished genetically modified food, MSG, added trans-fats, and artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. Trader Joe’s-brand eggs come from cage-free chickens, and its beef is free of infamous“pink slime.” Sourcing for Trader Joe’s is unique, as it sells most products under its private label, despite purchasing many items, like chips, yogurt, and soft drinks, from corporations including FritoLay and Pepsi. Prior to these initiatives, the company signed the Fair Food Agreement in early 2012 and began shifting to sustainably-sourced seafood in 2010.

Whole Foods : On Earth Day in April of 2012, Whole Foods became the first national grocery retailer to stop selling red-rated seafood. Evaluated against qualifications set by research organizations Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute, red-rated seafood refers to species that have been overfished or species that are fished using environmentally harmful methods. Although many grocers, including Wal-Mart and Trader Joe’s have committed to sourcing more sustainable seafood, Whole Foods is the only U.S. grocery company to ban red-rated seafood completely.

Whole Foods Sustainable Seafood : The online retail giant launched in September, offering an e-commerce boutique exclusively selling eco-friendly products. The site is run by Quidsi, a company Amazon purchased in 2010, which also manages specialty retail sites including,, and sells everything from dish soap to bedding to snack food, all evaluated by sustainability experts. As outlined on the website, to be sold on a produce must be at least one of the following:  made from sustainable materials, energy efficient, natural, organic, designed to remove toxins, powered by renewable energy, reusable, or water-efficient. also adheres to a banned ingredient list that includes formaldehyde, parabens, and animal by-products.

IKEA : In October, the Swedish home goods store announced its decision to sell only LED light bulbs and light fixtures by 2016, phasing out halogen Compact Fluorescent Lamp (CFL) light bulbs from is 38 U.S. stores. LED light bulbs last twice as long as CFLs, require significantly less energy, and are manufactured without toxic mercury. IKEA is the first retail company in the U.S. to commit to an all-LED product line, continuing its tradition of pioneering sustainability. IKEA was also the first U.S. retailer to discontinue sales of incandescent light bulb (in 2010) and to eliminate single-use shopping bags, instead offering customers a sturdy polypropylene tote for 59 cents.


Packaging incorporatedGuest post by Derek Brink, V.P. of Sales and Marketing at Packaging Incorporated, a 55 year old packaging and collated fastening distributor that specializes in innovative solutions for all industries needing “inside the box” product protection and voidfill, “outside the box” load containment packaging and collated fastening.


Sources and Further Reading:

Green Retail Decisions
Sustainable Brands
Whole Foods seafood ban: Unsustainable Fish No Longer Sold Include Skate And Atlantic Cod
Behind the label: Trader Joe’s secretive sourcing practices
Trader Joe’s Customer Updates

Pascal Blanc

Pascal has implemented numerous software solutions in the areas of procurement, sourcing, spend management, supplier evaluation and performance. His clients include Fortune 500 companies in Europe, Asia and North America. He is a co-founder of Source & Procure.

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