Achieving sustainability in retail and property

Blog image
Posted by: Will Dixon, Research & Campaign Executive | Last modified on 05/11/2019


At Revo, we strive to be as sustainable as possible. Being more sustainable is imperative at a time where the planet is facing unprecedented levels of stress on the environment. There are also growing inequalities and vulnerable people along the global supply chains. According to the UN Sustainability Goals, the global material footprint is rapidly growing, outpacing population and economic growth. It has almost doubled from 54 billion metric tons in 2000 to 92 billion in 2017. On current forecasts, it is estimated to increase to 190 billion by 2060 (UN, 2019).


Wealthier nations produce more pollution. The material footprint per capita in high-income countries is 60% higher than in upper-middle-income countries, and more than 13 times the level of low-income countries. The proliferation of single-use plastic around the world is accelerating climate change and should be urgently halted, according to a report by the Center for International Environmental Law. The report suggests that at current levels “greenhouse gas emissions from the plastic lifecycle threaten the ability of the global community to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5C”.


Striving to be as sustainable as possible


An increasing number of companies in the retail and retail property industry are recognising their crucial role in building a sustainable future for all. They are embedding sustainability into their business strategies and introducing solutions to alleviate negative impact on environment. John Lewis announced recently that it would be banning the sale of 50p single-use plastic carrier bags at its Oxford store, as an initiative aimed at changing their customer’s behaviour. In addition to this, the Oxford store will be using recyclable eco-wrap instead of bubble wrap for china and glass products. Those with membership cards will be rewarded for returning empty beauty product packaging and used clothing with gift vouchers. Other retailers are also examining ways in which they can reduce their carbon footprint and wastage. Sainsbury’s are considering multiple ways in which they can reduce the amount of plastic packaging by half over the next six years. This includes selling milk and fizzy drinks in returnable glass bottle, whilst Tesco has pledged to ban brands that use excessive packaging from their stores by next year. 


Landsec have pledged to ‘lead the industry on sustainability’ through a variety of ways. They have produced nearly 30,000 kWh of electricity produced every year from their solar project at Westgate, in Oxford, as well as saving their customers £4.0m through their energy efficiency projects. In order to create desirable and long-lasting space Landsec adhere to four main focuses; resilience, materials, biodiversity, and wellbeing.


It is important for the industry to work together to achieve the best outcome. And at Revo we work with our members and external stakeholders on solutions for the industry to become more sustainable, under the umbrella of the Revo Sustainability and Community Engagement Committee. Solutions explored include the Future of Transport (link to EV stuff), Social Value, helping vulnerable people (link to homelessness stuff), and a map towards net zero carbon.



The importance of sustainability at events


While events can often naturally produce waste, single-use plastic is particularly common at events, as an organisation we strive to create the most sustainable events possible. In order to do this when planning events we look at 5 key factors in planning our events and reducing wastage. These are:


  • Find a venue and city that is centrally located with good transport links, as well has certified energy and water-efficient facilities.
  • Smart procurement practices, choosing socially and environmentally responsible local suppliers.
  • Manage waste by reducing, re-using and recycling.
  • Organise team-building activities to contribute towards responsible business goals, and communicate efforts to organise the event responsibly.
  • Offset any emissions that were unavoidable, providing social benefits and positively impacting the environment.


At Revo Liverpool 2019, we tried to implement as many sustainable materials and solutions as was possible. The exhibition stands and features areas were created using recycled materials, whilst the cinema drapes have been reused. GES, our build contractor for Revo Liverpool 2019, has earned an ISO 20121 in the UK, a voluntary international standard for sustainable event management. They have many features including; SmartWire – a reusable electrical installation, recyclable carpet – 99% of which was recycled in 2012, graphics – with an aim to source sustainable products for their graphics materials, as well as recycling waste products and cut-offs, lighting – GES have introduced lower wattage lighting that diffuses a brighter light, as well as recycling existing stocks of cables and lamps, and the introduction of Euro 5 engines into their heavy-goods-vehicle in order to reduce their emission levels.


Vegware are a global specialist in plant-based compostable foodservice packaging and provided some of the food packaging at Revo Liverpool 2019. Where possible, Revo used Vegware, including water plastic cups and cutlery. Although the lunch bento boxes were not Vegware, they were fully recyclable. Additionally, bins were sorted behind the scenes by the venue so as little waste as possible would go to landfill.


Revo will endeavour to ensure that not only our organisation and events remain as sustainable as possible for the future, but we will also continue working on solutions for the industry. 


At Revo, we support the people and businesses involved in the diverse world of retail property and placemaking to thrive and prosper. Get in touch to find out more.