92% of the world’s population live in areas with dangerous levels of air pollution. In the UK 59% of parents would move to a new house to ‘escape’ air pollution if they could afford it and 12% have already moved to cleaner areas due to concerns around air quality. The retail industry, and all of us as consumers, have a role to play. That’s why we’re continuing to work with our members to raise awareness of the issue of air pollution, especially in the context of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UK Governments Clean Air Strategy, which sets out plans for making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy.

The BRC alongside DP World London Gateway recently hosted a roundtable with environment charity Hubbub to discuss the impact that retailers have on air pollution and how the industry can collaborate to help galvanise efforts.

The discussions focused on three main areas:

  1. Employee well-being: retailers have a duty of care to their employees both within their stores and drivers in their fleet and air pollution is one area where retailers can do more to protect their health. This could be starting out small and highlighting to their workforce different ways to mitigate the impacts of air pollution either in their commute to work or in their own homes.
  1. Awareness raising: there is interest from retailers present at the roundtable to continue raising the awareness of this issue with consumers and senior leadership within each respective company.
  1. Policy discussions: to help progress policy, there needs to be more data and measurements to use as a baseline. Currently, there are too many unknowns of what the current “state of play” is and whilst retailers want to do the right thing, it would help create a plan of action if there is shared data.

Retailers have a large role to play in promoting air quality to consumers and to their own employees. Collaborating across the retail industry and working alongside organisations such as DP World London Gateway and Hubbub is how demonstrable progress can be made to tackle air pollution.