Développement durable

SOME CONTEXT : A PILOT PROJECT TO INTEGRATE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT MEASURES IN RETAIL OUTLETS

In June 2016, the Quebec Retail Council launched a pilot project aimed at integrating sustainable development measures among retailers. This voluntary project, made possible thanks to funding from the Fonds d’action québécois en développement durable (FAQDD), financial collaboration from the Ministère de l’Économie de l’Innovation (MEI) and the expertise of Chamard stratégies environnementales, was conducted over a 20-month period. Its objective was to support 25 stores from 5 retail banners (from different retail sub-sectors) in implementing sustainable development practices, and it ended in December 2017. It touched on several themes, including energy, lighting, water management, transportation, waste management, procurement and inventory management, employee engagement, internal policies and social participation.

Thorough research led us to conclude that few studies had been carried out on the role of sustainability in the retail sector. As a result, very little information was available on the subject. The Council’s initiative was therefore to document the subject in this important sector of activity in Quebec. The experts at Chamard stratégies environnementales carried out diagnoses, proposed action plans and supported each of the 25 targeted stores in implementing sustainable measures.

Développement durable

OUTSTANDING RESULTS

Thanks to a personalized approach, including on-site visits and meetings with the stakeholders concerned, more than 61 measures were implemented. The areas in which the most changes were implemented were energy management, water management, lighting management and waste management. The last two were the most popular, accounting for over a third of the measures implemented throughout the project.

Several modifications were implemented at zero cost, while others required more substantial investment, but the possibility of implementing each of them is now known. The project has therefore demonstrated that it is possible to implement sustainable development practices in retail outlets without having to make major investments. In some cases, there have even been significant positive spin-offs. The participants appreciated the process, despite the very limited time they could devote to it.

In the end, it’s very encouraging to finally have proof that it’s possible to implement sustainable development measures in our sector without losing our skin! However, one of the main conclusions of the project is that, due to a lack of in-house expertise in this field at many retailers, companies in the retail sector often need external support to achieve change, and lack the necessary budgets. For the future, we need to consider the development of a larger-scale program, including a service offering adapted to the sector, with the support of governments.

We invite you to discover four interesting initiatives implemented by the participants in this study.

Groupe BMR, a subsidiary of La Coop fédérée, has installed an electronic labeling system in several stores to replace traditional paper labels. This technology, which is far from recent, but has largely proved its worth in terms of flexibility of use, consists of installing small display screens in place of traditional paper labels. The operational advantages are indisputable, since price updating – a task that occupies an employee an average of six days a month – is carried out automatically, thus limiting the risk of error. Another advantage is that the system eliminates the need to reprint product labels for each price change. For example, the Potvin Bouchard store in Chicoutimi replaced its 17,000 paper labels with as many electronic ones. Over a year, this represents a lot of label sheets (12 labels per sheet) that no longer need to be reprinted for each price change. As there are on average 7 price changes per year, this represents a saving of just under 10,000 pages of labels, and this does not take into account errors that require reprinting. This is a significant material saving for retailers, not to mention the time saved by the workforce.

Retail “relamping” is an increasingly common practice, whether for environmental or economic reasons. The falling price of energy-efficient bulbs means a faster return on investment and easier access to energy-efficient equipment. Electricity tends to represent a significant portion of a company’s operating budget. In the case of Korvette stores, the permanent lighting in the stores targeted by the project was completely overhauled. The stores are open 24 hours a day to allow safe access for employees between opening hours. Initially, each store was equipped with T8 tubes (32W). These were all replaced with T8 LED tubes (15W). As a result, estimated electricity consumption was cut in half. Similar efforts have been made in at least 3 other stores. Partial or even complete re-lamping has also been carried out.

About Relamping

External expertise is recommended for relamping. You may not be able to immediately find the best product for your needs because LED technology is constantly evolving. A technician will be able to advise you on the type of lighting to install. For example, we recommend that you avoid installing CFLs in rooms that are not permanently lit, as these bulbs are very sensitive to the number of times they are turned on and off or to the presence of a dimmer, which will affect their lifespan. On the other hand, this type of lighting can significantly reduce the electricity consumption of a retail space without the financial investment that would normally be required to purchase LED bulbs. Also, according to some of the managers we met during the project, the heat output of LED bulbs is underestimated. This can cause problems if the lighting is too close to heat-sensitive products. It’s a good idea to conduct tests to assess the impact of the lighting on the products to be highlighted.

DeSerres was quick to join the pilot project, demonstrating its proactive approach. In fact, within the first few weeks, the company appointed an environmental manager at its headquarters and made sustainable development an important topic for its health and safety committee. Far from revolutionizing the industry, it’s clear that such a simple initiative has formalized this approach within the company and made it known to all employees. As a starting point for changing practices and embedding a new corporate philosophy, the integration and leadership of a committee dedicated to environmental issues demonstrates a strong commitment on the part of both the management team and employees to review their practices. In addition, to formalize the company’s commitment, a sustainable development policy was developed and approved by management. These strategic decisions have enabled DeSerres to implement more than 25 new sustainable development practices as part of the Quebec Retail Council’s pilot project. Actions to reduce the Group’s environmental footprint have been implemented in the areas of lighting, energy, water management, waste management, transportation and responsible sourcing. Social aspects have not been neglected, with a strong commitment to employees.

As part of this project, The Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc. committed to reducing its consumption of printing paper. Unfortunately, due to current pharmacy regulations, paper documents given to the pharmaceutical laboratory’s customers cannot be disposed of. On the other hand, employees and managers can use digital documents instead of paper in many other situations.

The Jean Coutu Group (PJC) Inc. has offered to equip managers with digital tablets for viewing certain documents, such as weekly sales bulletins (around 100 pages) and planograms (on average 5 pages), which are sent out around twice a week. In branches where there is no digital tablet, documents can be consulted on a computer and a decision made whether to print them. In the same spirit, a digital portal has been created to enable employees and managers to consult documents such as notes and reference guides, among others.

A SELF-DIAGNOSTIC TOOL CREATED BY THE QUEBEC RETAIL COUNCIL

The pilot project as a whole assessed the feasibility of more than 300 sustainable development practices, and more than sixty were implemented and tested by the partners. The results are convincing and promising for the future, as many actions have proved easy to implement, while others offer a rapid return on investment. It was therefore logical for the Quebec Retail Council to develop a self-diagnosis tool to enable as many retailers as possible to benefit from the research and tests carried out over the past two years. This tool enables retailers who did not take part in the project and who wish to undertake a similar approach to do so. The tool, which is designed to be as intuitive and simple as possible, enables an internal audit to be carried out, identifying areas for improvement in 10 sustainable development themes, including: energy, lighting, HVAC[1], transportation, water management, waste management, procurement and inventory management, contaminant management, internal policies and social involvement.

It is strongly recommended that this audit be carried out with the support of a multidisciplinary team made up of representatives from several areas of the company, in order to draw up a realistic picture of the situation. In addition, as mentioned above, it will probably be necessary to call on the services of specialized technicians who can make recommendations or validate certain technical decisions taken by the work team. With the results of this ambitious pilot project and the self-diagnostic tool developed by Chamard for the Council, Quebec’s retail sector now has at its disposal a reference for taking the sustainable development turn!

It is strongly recommended that this audit be carried out with the support of a multidisciplinary team made up of representatives from several sectors of the company, in order to draw up a realistic portrait of the situation. In addition, as mentioned above, it will probably be necessary to call in specialized technicians who can make recommendations or validate certain technical decisions taken by the work team. With the results of this ambitious pilot project and the self-diagnostic tool developed by Chamard for the Council, Quebec’s retail sector now has at its disposal a reference for taking the sustainable development turn!

 

[1] HVAC: Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning

Sustainable development self-diagnosis tool

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CQCD