27 Aug 2021

Right up your Green Street: New online hub helps indies become more sustainable

One of Bira's missions is to help indepedent retailers become more sustainable.

And as a trade association, we are aiming to become the first one which is net zero in the UK. More here

With this in mind, we are supporting new online initiative aimed at small independent retailers by the UK's Retail Sector Council (RSC).

Green Street aims to helps SMEs cut their carbon footprint and become more environmentally friendly through an online hub packed with useful advice.

The hub’s launch has been jointly-funded through the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the RSC, a body of around 24 retailers of all types and sizes who work together to promote and grow UK retail. It is co-chaired by Richard Pennycook and Retail Minister, Paul Scully MP.

Bira CEO Andrew Goodacre said: "It is really important for all retailers to start to move a more sustainable form of retailing – from the energy used in the shop to the type of products being sold.

"It is also really important to remember that even small actions can help and together you can all make a difference. Bira is working with the Government and the Retail Sector Council to help retailers to start making the changes and Green Street has lots of useful hints and tips."

Green Street, led by RSC member Victoria Robertshaw,  is already making a contribution to the national debate on climate change, having been invited to contribute to BEIS’s latest national initiative Together for our Planet, part of the Government’s wider UK Business Climate Hub.

Victoria and her colleagues are also in advanced talks with local authorities nationally to establish a physical 'Green Street' that would act as an exemplar pilot scheme to help lead high street retailers towards a greener, more sustainable future. The pilot will include up to 30 retailers who will commit to implementing Green Street policies to see how they work in the real world. They will be able to use the eye-catching Green Street brand to engage customers in the need for planet friendly shopping. Their experiences will help to inform future Green Street initiatives and formulate policy ideas to present to the Government, specifically tailored around SME retailer and consumer needs.

Victoria said: “Green Street is based on real experiences, not academic theories. It’s about taking action and not simply making another pledge. Green Street has evolved over many months and there has been really helpful input from a range of experts; additionally retailers who are already doing these things themselves have helped create a set of principles that are the spine of the guide.

"The fight against climate change can’t be underestimated and the retail sector has a huge role to play. Because retailers rely so heavily on international supply chains it’s estimated that nearly 40% of all UK greenhouse gas emissions are accounted for through the retail channel.*

“With just under 300,000 small and medium-sized retail owners in the UK, if everyone makes the practical changes required, it will make a massive difference. Every step taken contributes to the global fight against irreversible climate change, and the more businesses that commit to making sustainable choices, the bigger the impact not only on our planet but also on our local communities.”

Green Street already offers around 30 practical actions that SME retailers can adopt immediately grouped under six easy-to-remember principles: Save Energy & Switch to Renewables, Minimise Packaging, Reuse & Recycle, Offer Greener Choices, Work Together and Share What You’ve Learned.

Each principal is backed up by sound and practical advice and tips, as well as examples and case studies where other UK retailers have already made the transition.

RSC co-chair, Richard Pennycook, added: “Retail is a highly competitive industry, and the consumer benefits from great choice and value as a result. But when it comes to creating a more sustainable planet, the Retail Sector Council is clear that we can do great things if we cooperate and share best practice. Green Street is part of that, and Green Street will be the go-to place for independent retailers to find great tips on how to run their business more sustainably and appeal to their customers, who are more and more concerned to do the right thing for the planet.”

Retail Minister and Retail Sector Council Co-Chair, Paul Scully said: “This government-backed guide, launched by the Retail Sector Council, will give retail businesses the tools they need to slash their carbon footprint and build back greener from the pandemic. Not only will these changes help us meet our ambitious climate goals, but they will help businesses reduce waste and drive clean growth, allowing us to level up every part of the UK.”


  • According to the British Retail Consortium Climate Action Roadmap, 25% of retailers’ emissions can be cut by switching to renewables.
  • The UK uses over 13 billion plastic bottles every year and around 57% are recycled leaving 5.5 billion which are littered or sent to landfill.
  • According to research conducted by Flux, around 11.2 billion receipts are printed in the UK alone each year — and 9.9 billion of these go unused. That’s the equivalent of 53,000 trees.
  • Shifting just 20% of plastic packaging from single use to reuse is an innovation opportunity estimated to be worth $10 billion (Ellen MacArthur Foundation).
  • In the UK 10,000 items of clothing are thrown into landfill every 5 minutes. If we all extended the active use of clothing by 9 months, it would reduce the carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30%.
  • Every year in the UK we throw away £12.5 billion worth of good food, costing the average family almost £60 a month.

Richard and Victoria will also be talking about Green Street as guests on a new podcast from the Association of Convenience Stores for its 30,000 members. They are being joined by ACS CEO James Lowman and Sam Luxe, from BEIS who is working on SME sustainability.

The Podcast titled – How To Go Green In Store - is hoping to help retailers understand why becoming more sustainable is a positive for their businesses as well as the planet, and how Green Street can help accelerate that process.

Find out more here 


For more information on how to become a more sustainable independent retailer, visit our Sustainability Hub.

 Additional Resources and Guidance