Day 1 keynote sets high bar for Sustainability Week

By Luke Barras-hill |

The Keynote session ‘People and the Planet: Taking Sustainability to the Next Level’ took place at 09:00 UK BST on 19 April and was kindly sponsored by Mars, Diageo and JTI.

The second annual Travel Retail Sustainability Week (19-22 April) kicked off in typically energetic fashion yesterday with an enthralling opening keynote session entitled ‘People and the Planet: Taking Sustainability to the Next Level’.

Travel Retail Sustainability Week remains the DF&TR industry’s first and only event dedicated solely to sustainability and has this year broadened its remit beyond environmental issues to spotlight relevant and timely topics around corporate responsibility, health and wellbeing and diversity and inclusion.

In a highly informative and engaging session that laid the foundations for the event’s compelling educational programme, virtual attendees heard from a raft of senior executives including Mélanie Guilldou, Executive VP CSR Global, Lagardère Travel Retail; Marcus Hudson, Sales Director – Mars ITR; Tessa Clarke, CEO and Co-Founder, OLIO; and Renzo Radice, Global Head of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, Dufry Group.

To replay yesterday’s keynote session and register for TR Sustainability Week (free of charge), click the button below.

After some introductory remarks from TRBusiness moderators Michael Barrett, Head of Events & CSR and Charlotte Turner, Editorial Director, each of the panellists took the opportunity to share an overview of their company’s respective sustainability strategies.

TRANSLATING GAINS TO THE SHOP FLOOR

In an exclusive shared with Travel Retail Sustainability Week delegates, Lagardère Travel Retail’s Guilldou revealed a commitment towards achieving carbon neutrality across all of the company’s operations by the end of next year [click here to read more].

“We’ve been through a very deep and large carbon footprint assessment last year on all scopes – direct and indirect emissions – and have worked very hard to be precise in our carbon reduction strategy,” said Guilldou. “We are very happy to disclose that we are going to commit ourselves to carbon neutrality by the end of 2023.”

Lagardère Travel Retail’s four-pillared PEPS (Planet, Ethics, People, Social) CSR agenda was unboxed in more detail, which focuses on 12 tangible commitments linked to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.

By 2025, Lagardère is targeting – among other objectives – 100% of its country operations switching to responsible consumables, 100% of suppliers signing the responsible supplier charter, and achieving a 50-50 gender balance within its top executive teams.

Offering a supplier’s viewpoint and commenting on Mars’ approach to sustainability, Marcus Hudson delivered a concise and shrewd appraisal of its current positioning.

An eminent lineup of panellists delivered a high-octane start to the Travel Retail Sustainability Week 2022 programme. Clockwise from top top left: Michael Barrett, Head of Events & CSR, TRBusiness; Charlotte Turner, Editorial Director, TRBusiness; Renzo Radice, Global Head of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, Dufry Group; Marcus Hudson, Sales Director – Mars ITR; Mélanie Guilldou, Executive VP CSR Global, Lagardère Travel Retail; and Tessa Clarke, CEO and Co-Founder at OLIO.

“We have a vision that the world we want tomorrow starts with how we do business today and this is really the essence of our sustainability approach,” he outlined. “Underneath this, we have a focus area on constantly transforming our operations and supply chain to ensure people and the planet thrive and this is a never-ending journey.

“Our cocoa supply chain is vital and a big pillar of what we do. Mars has a foundation based on our five principles of quality, responsibility, mutuality, efficiency and freedom. This was set up by the Mars family many years ago. It’s the mutuality principle which is actually a foundation of how we look at our responsibility on sustainability.

“We have about 140,000 associates around the world and when we look a the business units we work in we have confectionery, pet care, veterinary health and food and our sustainability approach covers all of these. We try to do everything at scale. One of the statistics I heard a few years ago is the footprint at Mars is the same equivalent as a country like Panama. That scale forces us to take responsibility.”

He spoke unerringly about Mars’ approach to thinking in generations, evidenced aptly by its ‘Sustainable in a Generation’ programme launched in 2017.

Lagardère Travel Retail’s Guilldou presented information on the travel retailer’s PEPS strategy, while revealing on the Travel Retail Sustainability Week platform Lagardère Travel Retail’s commitment towards achieving carbon neutrality across all its operations by the end of 2023.

This commits US$1 billion over 10 years to ensure its people thrive by empowering women, communities, inclusivity and diversity, protecting children and developing monitoring and remediation systems, among other activities.

This is supported by promoting a healthy planet, which includes a 2050 commitment to net-zero across the supply chain.

“A lot of our work hasn’t yet filtered down to travel retail,” explained Hudson. “One of the trials we’ve been doing is around fully based paper packaging for our brand Balisto in Germany. We’ve now sold over one million bars in paper-based packaging that has saved nearly half a tonne of plastic. In the US, we had bio-plastic on our M&Ms singles pouches that we are now doing a trial on and do see that consumers are really accelerating there.

“We do need to translate that more into what we are doing in travel retail on the shop floor with our brands and products.”

Offering the retailer’s perspective, Renzo Radice of Dufry spoke about the importance of the partnerships it enjoys with the retailers and airports.

As many will be aware, Dufry continues to sharpen its sustainability approach by defining science-based-targets (SBT) to achieve climate neutrality by 2025 for scopes 1 + 2 and to considerably reduce the carbon footprint of scope 3 emissions by cooperating with suppliers and logistic partners by 2027 and 2030 respectively.

“Taking the example of defining our reduction goals for emissions, it took us one-and-half years to gather data from airports and landlords where we are present,” said Radice.

“There is a lot of work you need to do internally before you are in a position to define goals and the next step is to implement the second process to cooperate and identify where reductions are possible.”

Radice mentioned Dufry’s supplier code of conduct, introduced in 2019. He said it was initially a ‘cumbersome’ exercise, but this year – despite increasing the number of partners – the process has been easier due to heightened awareness around requests that contain information applicable to a company’s sustainability efforts.

When asked, Radice did not allude to specific categories or geographic regions in which suppliers could improve their association within the ‘code of conduct’ nor did he believe that a homogenous, one-size-fits all industry code of conduct would make sense.

“For us, the collaboration with suppliers is ongoing. The best results you can get is that sales increase for the same product before and after introducing these initiatives. The same product being identified as sustainable and increasing sales compared with before is the best answer you can get from customers.”

This underpins the nod towards consumers being prepared to pay more for sustainable products and services, something demonstrated by m1nd-set’s research which points out that 85% of global consumers are more concerned about sustainability than ever, and 71% say they prefer to purchase brands that demonstrate social, ethical and environmental values.

The global retail giant has also launched a new sustainable product identification initiative across 128 airports and 171 shops globally and evolved its diversity & inclusion engagement, among other major initiatives.

“The initiative we launched launch year covered 550 products from 13 suppliers. It’s a real collaboration. We approach the suppliers but we also get approached by suppliers.”

FOOD WASTE: THE UNDERSTATED CHALLENGE

Offering an external industry perspective, Tessa Clarke, CEO and Co-Founder at OLIO noted how impressed she was with the centrality given to the topic of people.

“I do think that too much to date has, arguably, been orientated around the planet,” said Clarke. “I really believe that if you get truly diverse teams then everything else will follow on from that. The sustainability conversations go from being a battle to just common sense when you have diverse voices in the room.”

She emphasised the importance of honest communication with consumers to dispel any notions around greenwashing.

“It’s imperative that businesses are on the front foot and proactively communicating their stance on this. Otherwise people will assume you are a laggard and doing nothing.”

Clarke then spoke specifically about OLIO, a free mobile app whose mission is to tackle the scourge of food waste through the company’s Food Waste Heroes programme.

Tessa Clarke, CEO and Co-Founder at OLIO (bottom right) offered an enlightened perspective on the scale of the food waste challenge facing communities and businesses.

The programme’s army of 45,000 volunteers – people from the community that are part of Olio’s app that boasts six million followers – are recruited, trained and matched with business locations such as supermarkets, schools, hospitals or corporate canteens.

Volunteers collect unsold food, log it via the app and redistribute it to communities. OLIO’s clients within the travel ecosystem include Avanti, Eurostar and Rail Gourmet.

“There is nowhere near enough conversation about the problem of food waste specifically and its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions,” said Clarke. “If it were to be a country, food waste would be the third largest source of greenhouse gas emissions after the US and China. Emissions from food waste alone are between 8-10% which is four times the travel industry.

“There is a collaborative piece of work by several hundred of the world’s leading climate change scientists called Project Drawdown and in their latest research [..] they stack-ranked the top 100 solutions to the climate crisis and in position number one is reducing food waste. That comes above electric cars, solar power and plant-based diets.

“One kilogram of food waste has the same CO2 emissions as 25,000 500ml plastic bottles: If you are a business that has food waste anywhere in your supply chain – if you tackle that you will have an enormously positive impact.”

Stay close to TRBusiness for further coverage from Travel Retail Sustainability Week and watch out for the May e-zine to view round-up coverage from the educational webinars and Sustainability Pitch sessions.

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