BRC held a virtual roundtable event in association with DP World London Gateway called “Promoting Air Quality in Retail” that brought together experts in different fields to talk about how retailers can lead the charge in accelerating the shift to zero emissions transport and what the forecast looks like for policy changes and NGO campaigns.

Leah Riley Brown, Sustainability Policy Advisor at BRC, introduced and facilitated the discussion with different retailers from high street fashion to supermarket to online pure play. She set the scene by showcasing BRC’s new Climate Roadmap and how retailers can have a key part to play in tackling climate change and air pollution. This ground-breaking decarbonisation plan will guide the industry on the steps necessary to accelerate progress towards a Net Zero UK, ahead of the Government’s 2050 target.

Dominic Phinn, Business Engagement Manager at ClientEarth, then spoke about how the collective voice of retailers matters hugely to signal that electric vehicles are needed urgently and at scale. He mentioned that the UK Government has a legal obligation to act on air pollution as it links directly to the public’s health. There are indications from Government that they are ready to act as the Minister for Transport Grant Shapps recently stated: “One of the few positive benefits about the crisis is drastically better air quality and the health benefits that that brings. A host of environmental and business groups are putting pressure on the government to ‘build back better.”

Charlotte West, Strategic Account Director at Global Action Plan, referred to their consumer polling on air pollution and how 85% want businesses to do something to improve air quality. She referred to several ways retailers can play their part by utilising cargo bikes or electric vehicles to deliver goods for last mile delivery, to offer more click and collect options, or even to give the option to wait three days for non-urgent parcels to help reduce air pollution on their streets.

Hop Ming Chen and Oliver Treneman, Commercial Supply Chain Manager and Park Development Director at DP World London Gateway respectively, spoke about the efficiency of utilising transport by sea and rail as they can be the more environmentally friendly option for delivery. They spoke about how the consolidation and location close to market (within London) has proven a success as they look to the waterways like the Thames to move consumer goods and use sustainable warehousing options with BREAM and Planet Mark certifications to reduce their overall emissions.

Justin Laney, Fleet Manager at John Lewis Partnership, gave a compelling case study of how their business is moving towards more electric vehicles for last mile delivery and committing to have all heavy trucks powered by biomethane. The business case for John Lewis is that their customers are asking for lower emissions delivery but also that electric vehicles are expected to have lower maintenance costs as well as a longer service life, which helps to save costs making it a win-win.

This event showed how retailers are uniquely placed to support the UK’s journey to a low carbon future including driving forward decarbonisation in our shops, distribution centres and logistics operations, including deliveries by vehicles. They are also committing to driving down emissions across supply chains and helping to guide our customers towards dramatically lowering their own carbon footprint, while continuing to deliver an outstanding retail experience.

To find out more about how DP World London Gateway can support your organisation in reducing its carbon footprint with transport and logistics, please connect with the speakers:

Hop Ming Chen
Supply Chain Commercial Manager , DP World London Gateway

Oliver Treneman
Park Development Director, DP World London Gateway