Retail Sustainability: Regulations and Expectations


While the call for sustainability echoes loudly, there's a harsh reality: budgets are tight, and justifying sustainability investment without a clear return on investment is an uphill battle. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in the retail industry. Consumers are vocal, regulations are pending, and profit margins are razor-thin.

But words alone won't revolutionise supply chains; regulators and customers expect your brand to take concrete strides toward a more sustainable future. But with tight margins, what should your first step be?

Source: EY.

Often overlooked, your supply chain sustainability is a double-edged sword. Your supply chain can either be a silent roadblock to your ESG objectives or the foundation of them.

Why now? 

Supply chain sustainability is not just a choice; it's a strategic necessity in order to stay competitive.

99% of companies listed in the S&P 500 publicly disclosed their sustainability in 2021. A fivefold increase from 2011, when just under 20% of S&P 500 companies reported on sustainability related matters.

“Sustainability will become a key competitive advantage in the future. Investments in sustainability and transparency help reduce risk exposure and build loyalty with customers and employees alike.” - John Paxton, CEO of MHI.

Consumers, regulators, governments, social media and other stakeholders are increasingly expecting brands to be sustainable in every link of their supply chain. Now, supply chain professionals are feeling the pressure (and the data proves it).

Source: MHI, Deloitte.

As you work towards sustainability on your shelves, this article covers why cleaning up your supply chain is one of the most strategic steps you can take towards your ESG goals. 

3 Business Cases for Sustainability

Business Case 1: Regulatory Adherence 

Governments and regulators are tightening the noose on emission reporting. 

Worldwide, there are: 

Source: Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Enviornment.

For Australian businesses, the phased introduction of a mandatory climate-related financial disclosure regime will commence in the 2024/2025 financial year.

It will be a requirement for Australian businesses to disclose their emissions, emission reduction initiatives, and approaches to address any residual emissions. The consultation paper stated the following: 

“The Government will introduce standardised, internationally-aligned reporting requirements for businesses to make disclosures regarding governance, strategy, risk management, targets and metrics – including greenhouse gases.”

Some of the specific proposals include a requirement for companies to disclose transition plans, including information on offsets, target-setting and mitigation strategies, as well as processes used to monitor and manage climate-related risks and opportunities. 

Building a brand with staying power demands aligning with worldwide climate regulations to secure access to future markets and ensure lasting sustainability. To avoid penalties for non-compliance, you need to be proactive in measuring your carbon footprint in all stages of your supply chain.

Business Case 2: Stakeholder Loyalty 

Consumers, regulators, governments, social media and other stakeholders are increasingly expecting brands to be sustainable in every link of their supply chain. 


Source: IBM


Sustainable investing is projected to grow to $53 trillion by 2025, and 81% of sustainable indices are outperforming their peer benchmarks. 


A 2023 Handshake survey found that:

Source: HandShake.

As a retailer, your brand's efforts are under scrutiny from all angles.  Embracing half-measures and greenwashing erodes your brand's credibility, leaving consumers sceptical about your commitment to genuine sustainability.

To satisfy savvy consumers, you need to transition from advocacy to action, and that journey begins with data.

Business Case 3: Resilience & longevity 

From floods to fires, extremes are increasing in every category. The impact of climate change is already posing serious threats to supply chains worldwide. 

Source: Everstream analytics

The long term financial and material costs cannot be understated. This is especially concerning when only 11% of suppliers are fully prepared for weather-related disruption according to the Harvard Business Review. 

  1. Unprecedented Australian bushfires in 2019-2020 caused over $110B in economic losses. Highways and ports shut down, production lines were damaged, and consumer spending plummeted. Critical freight routes closed, forcing companies to seek alternative pathways.
  2. The Texas freeze in 2021 caused the worst unplanned blackout in U.S. history, forcing railroad and factory closures for days.
  3. More recently in June 2023, more than 400 fires burnt across Canada, upending their oil and gas operations, the area's main economic driver.

Source: Ceres

By prioritising sustainability, you’re also investing in your brands long term resilience by lowering global emissions that impact all supply chains. As a bonus, by monitoring your supply chain emissions, you attain complete visibility into your supply chain, enhancing your capability to handle operational disruptions with finesse.

Steps you can take

Step 1: Measure your Impact with Accuracy

To make meaningful strides on the path towards net zero, you need accurate carbon accounting.

Measuring your environmental impact doesn't have to mean more tasks in your daily to do lists.  Investing in technology that streamlines your operations while tracking their emissions is the key to supply chain sustainability. 

Just as a captain wouldn't set sail without a compass, a logistics manager shouldn’t navigate operations without accurate data.  If you can’t accurately track your sustainability progress, you're sailing blind, unable to gauge direction or headway. 

If you aren’t precise in measuring your emissions: 

  • You pay more than required in carbon offsets
  •  You can’t report your brands ESG progress
  • You can’t make informed decisions
  • And you can't prove compliance with ESG regulations. 

Step 2: Set Realistic ESG Targets 

Break down your supply chain into parts. Evaluate each section for opportunities to reduce carbon emissions. Sort the list of improvement opportunities by ease of implementation and potential for impact. Commit to specific, measurable and achievable targets. 

Setting goals without communicating them is like shipping goods without a delivery address… they’re going nowhere. So continue to remind your team, suppliers, customers, and stakeholders that people, innovation and sustainability are your top priorities.

Step 3: Leverage the Power of Partnerships 

There’s only so much your team can do on their own.  Fortunately, the road to sustainability doesn't have to be travelled alone. An ecosystem approach connects you with the right experts to enable authentic and enduring sustainability shifts within your business.

Let us do the heavy lifting.

We believe small changes can have big impacts for your business and the world. Our goal is to make those changes easier to make.

Explorate helps you to easily understand, manage and reduce your carbon footprint, and achieve your sustainability goals with the most efficient spend. Work with us to navigate the best next steps in your sustainability strategy. We’ll give you practical ways to reduce the carbon emissions of your logistics operations.

Working with the world's best allows us to deliver the world's best.  Cloverly enables Explorate to provide one of the most credible and convenient Carbon Offset Programs in the logistics market. 

Through our partnership with Cloverly, Explorate customers can:

🎯 Take on sustainability targets with confidence.

🔍 Get full visibility on emissions by shipment.

🌱 Offset their carbon in one click.

Cloverly delivers carbon offsets with distinction. These offsets are certified by four standard bodies, align with nine UN Sustainable Development Goals, and are predominantly sourced from Australia, reflecting Explorate’s roots.

Don't just take our word for it. We love to hear from Australian brands we've partnered with who have accomplished their sustainability goals through our platform.

Giving Australian brands a competitive edge through their supply chain is our specialty. 

Take the first step towards a sustainable supply chain and reach out to our team to see the difference Explorate can make to your operations.


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