The insight: Nearly six in ten (58%) of global executives say their company has exaggerated its sustainability efforts, per a survey by The Harris Poll and Google Cloud. But that hasn’t stopped a wave of retailers and restaurants from rolling out a slew of sustainability initiatives ahead of Earth Day.
A closer look: Generally speaking, sustainability initiatives in the retail and restaurant industries focus on three main categories:
Sustainable materials. Fashion brands as well as CPG and food companies are looking to use more recycled materials, while cutting back on plastic and other petrochemical-based resources.
Sustainable store design. More companies are looking for ways to reduce their stores’ carbon footprints.
Circularity. Many retailers are looking to showcase their environmental commitment by launching resale programs, or "circular" collections meant to extend a product’s lifecycle.
But do they make a difference? While fashion brands are using more “preferred materials” (that is, materials with less environmental impact), emissions continue to grow due to overall volume growth, per Textile Exchange’s most recent benchmark report.
The big takeaway: Sustainability initiatives are no longer the easy reputation boost they once were, as consumers and governments get savvier about identifying and punishing greenwashing. With the EU and US looking to crack down on misleading environmental claims, companies have to make good on their promises, or else face strict fines and potential consumer backlash.
Go further: Check out our Spotlight report on Fashion and Sustainability.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Retail & Ecommerce Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the retail industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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