UK retail industry embraces Carbon Trust Standard

Despite the recession, insight from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) highlights that UK retailers are increasingly recognising the reputational and financial benefits of reducing their carbon emissions.

According to BRC research, retailers accounting for over 50% of the UK's total retail turnover are now certified to the Carbon Trust Standard; a rigorous, independent assessment of carbon data. The Standard certifies that an organisation has reduced energy consumption and carbon emissions, and demonstrates commitment to becoming a more sustainable business supporting a cleaner environment.

To achieve the Standard, organisations need to demonstrate that they are measuring, managing and reducing their carbon emissions across their operations, and commit to reducing further year-on-year.

This result demonstrates that the retail sector is taking the lead on reducing its carbon emissions. The sector can be proud that more and more retailers are introducing energy efficiency improvements. There's clearly a strong business case to do so. Helping the environment reflects positively on reputation and reduces energy bills.

- Bob Gordon, Head of Environment at the British Retail Consortium

Heat, light, refrigeration and distribution for retail outlets drive energy consumption, carbon emissions and operating costs. I am encouraged that more and more retailers in the UK are recognising the reputational and economic benefits of cutting their carbon emissions, and believe that the retail sector will maintain its momentum for certifying to the Standard in the coming years.

- Darran Messem, Managing Director of Certification at the Carbon Trust

There is widespread interest across the retail sector for certifying to internationally recognised standards such as the Carbon Trust Standard, and premium brands are also performing well when it comes to reducing their impact on climate change. Standard-bearers Selfridges, Harrods and the John Lewis Partnership are among the luxury, top-end and leading retailers that have measured, managed and reduced their carbon emissions. This has led to a cumulative cost saving by these businesses of nearly £1 million over their assessment period.

Selfridges achieved the Carbon Trust Standard in June 2011. Over the assessment period it reduced CO2 emissions by 4,700 tonnes and made energy savings of over £500,000 on gas and electricity. Its actions include assigning a night energy manager and offering bonuses to facilities managers for reducing energy consumption.

Harrods achieved the Carbon Trust Standard in July 2011. During the period in which the company's energy performance was assessed, Harrods significantly reduced CO2 emissions and made substantial cost savings. The measures implemented include a "watts per meter square" lighting control initiative, highly efficient central refrigeration packs and the installation of energy efficient lighting.

John Lewis Partnership was awarded the Carbon Trust Standard in June 2010. Since John Lewis was certified, it instigated initiatives such as removing all HFC refrigerant gas emissions using a new propane-based, water-cooled refrigeration system. The Partnership's action to improve energy efficiency, reduce the impact of refrigerants and increase distribution fuel efficiency in John Lewis and Waitrose stores has resulted in a 4.4% efficiency improvement in emissions compared with a 2007/08 baseline.

The John Lewis Partnership has detailed plans to reduce its absolute carbon emissions by 15% by 2020 (compared with a 2010/11 baseline). The Carbon Trust Standard helps us to demonstrate our commitment to this target, engage our Partners in our carbon reduction plans and provide assurance to our customers, who expect us to be doing the right thing.

- Gemma Lacey, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility at the John Lewis Partnership

Research from BrandZ, the brand and corporate reputation study carried out by Millward Brown, a WPP subsidiary, shows that about 20% of sales are influenced by corporate reputation, and 61% of people surveyed on behalf of the Carbon Trust said they would be more likely to buy from a company if it has a good reputation for reducing its impact on climate change[2].

Notes to Editors

* Figure calculated by British Retail Consortium

2 The research was conducted on behalf of the Carbon Trust Standard Company by Vanson Bourne during February and March 2011. Opinions were sourced from 1,000 adults across the UK via telephone research in the North West, the North East, the Midlands and East Anglia, the South West, the South East, London, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

About BrandZ

Developed for WPP's operating companies by Millward Brown, BrandZ is a global brand equity study based on the BrandDynamics framework.  The study has been conducted every year since 1998, and has interviewed over a million consumers globally about thousands of global "consumer facing" and business-to-business brands.

The Carbon Trust Standard

Carbon Trust Standard offers a full service carbon certification service, including: certification, benchmarking, analysis, training and verification.

Over 600 organisations have achieved the Carbon Trust Standard since it was launched in June 2008.

Collectively, the current holders of the Carbon Trust Standard have cut their emissions by 5.5M tonnes of CO2e, whilst also cutting their gas, electricity and fuel bills by over £253M. 

To date, the total carbon footprint certified by the Carbon Trust Standard is over 43 million tonnes of CO2e; equivalent to over 18% of the total carbon footprint of UK businesses and transport.

All businesses and organisations, both in the UK and internationally, are eligible to apply for the Carbon Trust Standard including FTSEs, middle capitalisation companies, small to medium sized enterprises, and public sector organisations. Organisations that are awarded the Carbon Trust Standard hold it for a two year period and to maintain the certification they must reapply and demonstrate that they have continued to make year-on-year reductions in their carbon emissions.

Organisations wanting information about getting the Carbon Trust Standard can call: +44 (0)800 019 1443 or see our carbon footprint certification services.

For further information or interviews on the Carbon Trust Standard, please contact Amy Watt on +44 (0)20 7592 1200 or

About the Carbon Trust

The Carbon Trust is a not-for-profit company with the mission to accelerate the move to a low carbon economy, providing specialist support to business and the public sector to help cut carbon emissions, save energy and commercialise low carbon technologies.  By stimulating low carbon action we contribute to key UK goals of lower carbon emissions, the development of low carbon businesses, increased energy security and associated jobs.

We help to cut carbon emissions now by

  • Providing specialist advice and finance to help organisations cut carbon
  • Setting standards for carbon reduction
  • Operating carbon reduction Programmes for public sector and private sector organisations

We reduce potential future carbon emissions by

  • Opening markets for low carbon technologies
  • Leading industry collaborations to commercialise technologies
  • Investing in early stage low carbon companies