Our environmental footprint comes from supplying stores, both in the UK and worldwide, with products and from the operation of the stores themselves. All the products sold in the UK, and some products destined for our franchise partners' international stores, pass through one of two warehouses in the UK. Some products are delivered directly to the warehouses by suppliers, but some of it is imported by us and requires transport from the dock where they arrive to the warehouse. At the warehouses the products are checked, tested, sorted and eventually transported to our stores. Some products are delivered directly to customers' homes following an order in-store or on the internet.
The most important environmental aspects are therefore:
- Stores, Warehouses and Offices using energy and producing waste
- Transport fleets, bringing products from the docks to the warehouses, from the warehouses to stores or customers' homes
- Wooden products; ensuring that the wooden products that we sell are made from wood that is legally harvested and where possible certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
- Packaging and other bulk materials
To reduce our impacts, we have set long term environmental targets in each of these areas and we report progress on these in our annual report each year. Reducing packaging not only reduces our waste, but also the waste our customers have to throw away. It also lowers the carbon emissions associated with transporting products from the country they are manufactured in, as more can be shipped per container. We are also increasing efforts to recycle more of our waste at our warehouses and stores.
We have 17 regional Corporate Responsibility Champions who are based in our UK stores and who encourage store staff to recycle paper, hangers, cardboard and plastic and also think about conserving energy. We've also introduced technological innovations, such as automatic meter reading equipment so that we can monitor energy consumption, and lighting systems controlled by movement sensors.
In Wales it is now a legal requirement to charge 5p for every single use carrier bag given to a customer. Between 1st October 2011 and 6th April 2012 we charged for 40,174 carrier bags. After the tax was deducted this generated a net income of £1,607 which was donated to Save the Children to support their work on reducing childhood poverty in Wales.