KUALA LUMPUR: Tesco Stores (M) Sdn Bhd has been ranked the most environmentally sustainable retailer in a study conducted by WWF-Malaysia.
The first such rating of its kind in Malaysia, the Sustainable Retailers Scorecard was designed to evaluate the environmental performance as well as the sustainability policies and practices of the country’s top retailers.
The retailers were required to complete a survey questionnaire and undergo interviews assessing environmental policies, sustainable packaging, sustainable sourcing, waste management and green initiatives and consumer approaches.
Eighteen major retailers were invited to participate, but only seven responded.
Tesco scored 76%. It was followed by Aeon Co. (M) Bhd (54%), AEON Wellness (38%), MyNews Holdings Bhd (33%), Caring Pharmacy Bhd (29%), AEON BiG (M) Sdn Bhd (28%) and Econsave Cash & Carry Sdn Bhd (17%).
The study found that multi-national retailers led the way in terms of sustainable retail practices, which are said to be often a result of corporate sustainability frameworks developed at their headquarters.
Dr Nagulendran Kangayatkarasu, a deputy secretary-general at the ministry of energy, science, technology, environment and climate change, said it was a “big step” to get companies to be transparent about their daily activities.
He told FMT he was confident more companies would get on board in the coming years as they adapt to operating in a business environment in which sustainability and transparency are increasingly important.
He praised WWF for the initiative, saying it showed appreciation of consumers’ increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability.
“Consumers are being more informed,” he said. “Even if we don’t inform them, they will go on the web to get the information.
“Companies are now telling their stories and becoming more transparent. I think this will not only help the environment but also help companies to be more sustainable and competitive.”
The retail industry is a major contributor to economic growth, growing from RM55 billion in 2013 to RM69.1 billion in 2018.
WWF Malaysia estimates that up to 30% of the retail sales value is made up of food and groceries.
Personal care and pharmacy chains recorded the highest growth rate among the subsectors of the retail industry after expanding by 10.2% in 2018.
Among the benefits retailers can enjoy from adopting sustainable practices are mitigation of business risks related to climate change and business growth stemming from efficient resource management. These will in turn earn them increasing trust from consumers, according to WWF.
“For years, the responsibility of providing solutions to environmental problems have rested in the hands of governments and international organisations,” said WWF-Malaysia CEO Sophia Lim.
“But we have come to realise that businesses, especially major corporations, can be the world’s strongest positive forces for environmental sustainability.”