Travel retail affirms sustainability commitment on World Environment Day

By Kristiane Sherry |

Beach plastic is a focus for World Environment Day 2023. Image: sergeitokmakov / Pixabay

It’s 50 years since the UN founded its World Environment Day initiative. For 2023 the campaign takes aim at plastic pollution, and the travel retail community has affirmed its commitment to doubling down on sustainability practices.

World Environment Day, observed on 5 June, serves as a global reminder to individuals, businesses and governments that collective action makes a real difference. While beating plastic pollution is an enormous task, the campaign is encouraging everyone to accelerate change.

Transitioning to a circular economy is the main call – and one which, as those following the implementation of the Scottish Deposit Return Scheme will know, is far from straightforward. But many are taking steps now, including stakeholders from across travel retail and duty free.

Here’s a round-up of 2023 World Environment Day activities through a travel retail and duty free lens. We’ll update with more initiatives as we get them.

Use the hashtag #BeatPlasticPollution to follow World Environment Day activities globally.

Don’t miss the Green Shoots Exchange Programme at the upcoming Travel Retail Consumer Forum for detailed insights on how our travel retail and duty free industry can become more sustainable. 

Mark the diaries now for Travel Retail Sustainability Week, which brings together global duty free and travel retail stakeholders to discuss and showcase the variety of sustainable initiatives and services that are being proposed and implemented in the channel. The third edition will take place from 4-8 September 2023.

Hamad International Airport

Doha’s Hamad International Airport is using World Environment Day to communicate its waste management and greenhouse gas reduction efforts. 

Through an enhanced waste management system, the airport reused or recycled 40% of its waste in its 2022-3 fiscal year.

The activity saved 736 tonnes of plastic wasted, with non-recyclable plastic used to produce electricity. 

Airport hotel The Oryx has replaced plastic water cups and bottles with containers made from 76% vegetable origin. In addition, its room cards are now made from bamboo, hotel amenities have been switched to biodegradable materials, and all paper for hotel collateral is recycled. 

Hamad International Airport is replacing plastics with more sustainable materials – including keycards.

Across the broader airport landscape, Hamad now uses fully organic fertiliser, with 100% of wastewater used for irrigation. Zero wastewater is now discharged into the sea. 

So far, 1,200 tonnes of waste is now diverted from landfill each month, and the airport has set an objective of zero to landfill.  

Qatar Duty Free

For Qatar Duty Free (QDF), World Environment Day means a step up in its move to cut plastic bags from its operations. After announcing the replacement of 100,000 single-use bags a month on Earth Day, QDF has now introduced branded cotton bags in all its Day2Day Essential Stores at Hamad International Airport.

Reuseable up to 500 times, the bags are made from lightweight, locally sourced cotton, and are fully vegan certified.

“We are very proud of taking the first step towards transforming our shop floor into a sustainable space on World Environment Day,” said Mr. Thabet Musleh, Senior Vice President at QDF.

QDF is committing to #BeatPlasticPollution by ditching plastic bags.

“Sustainability is shaping the future of travel retail. As a key play in the industry, it is our responsibility to take the lead in promoting this initiative by adopting sustainable practices.

“Our step is the first amongst many significant decisions and actions we plan to take for a more sustainable and environmental-friendly retail experience. Sustainability has not only been a strong trend and is greatly discussed within the industry; however, it is now greatly desired and supported amongst travellers and duty free customers.”

Lotte Duty Free

Korea-based travel retailer Lotte Duty Free is marking World Environment Day with a ‘Duty 4 Earth’ initiative running across a number of its downtown stores. 

Eco-friendly products are offered free to customers with a minimum US$700 spend up until 30 June. Items include sustainably made soaps, scouring pads and bags. 

Lotte Duty Free is promoting sustainable products for World Environment Day.

An event was held for VIP customers, while employees took part in a ‘plogging’ activity, where they were encouraged to pick up litter while jogging. 

Busan store staff also carried out an environmental clean-up day at the nearby Gwangalli Beach.

“On the occasion of Environment Day, we have prepared a campaign to share the meaning of environmental protection with our customers,” said Yang Hee-sang, Lotte Duty Free Myeongdong Main Store Manager, said (from translation).

“Lotte Duty Free Myeongdong Main Store will continue to reduce resource waste and participate in creating a sustainable earth.”

Broader environmental efforts from Lotte include saving 875 tonnes of carbon a year through its use of solar power, and the introduction of electric vehicles on the logistics side. 

Through cutting out single-use packaging in its duty free stores in favour of fabric bags, Lotte expects to cut 80% of its annual plastic waste at airport sites. 

Cochin Duty Free, Kerala

Kerala’s Cochin Duty Free, the travel retail operator at Cochin International Airport, has used World Environmental Day to amplify its credentials as the world’s first fully solar powered airport.

An airport that takes its green credentials seriously, last year it embarked on an aquaculture programme, including sustainable fish farming.

Cochin Duty Free is shouting about its eco credentials on social media.

“Aquaculture offers many environmental benefits, relative to other forms of livestock farming,” said CIAL Managing Director Mr S. Suhas at the time. 

“Over the last five years, the Aquaculture industry has reduced its carbon footprint through the gradual assimilation of new production systems that have reduced greenhouse gas emissions, reduced the use of freshwater per unit produced, improved feed management practices, and adopted new farming practices.” 

Lindt & Sprüngli

Just ahead of World Environment Day, confectioner Lindt & Sprüngli published its 13th annual Sustainability Report, drawing attention to progress made to advance sustainability in 2022. 

In brief, 67% of its cocoa products are now sourced through sustainability programmes, and it has defined criteria for the sustainable sourcing of sugar, paper and vanilla. 

Lindt is gradually making sustainability gains when it come to sourcing.

Lindt also developed and implemented its Community Child Protection System to prevent and address child labour. It also committed CHF 1.25 million (US$1.37m) to the Child Learning and Education Facility, which invests in child education. The company also submitted its climate targets to the Science Based Targets Initiative for validation.

Heathrow Airport

Also coinciding with World Environment Day, Heathrow Airport has today launched a consultation of its updated Noise Action Plan.

During the six-week consultation, local residents have been invited to share their views as the airport looks to deliver quieter nights for the community. 

Heathrow has opened a consultation on reducing noise at night. Image: Heathrow

Set to be introduced in 2024 and run to 2028, the plan seeks to improve the wellbeing of local populations by reducing noise impact. 

The consultation closes on Monday 17 July 2023, with more details available on the airport’s website. 

Earlier this year, specialist travel retail agency 2.0 Partners became an official supporter of non-profit The Ocean Cleanup and called on the industry to join a beach clean.

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