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B&Q One Planet Home, annual sustainability review, 2013/14

The UKs largest home improvement retailer, B&Q is on track to hit more than 70% of its challenging sustainability targets, according to the 2013/14 review of performance by Bioregional. Since 2007, B&Q’s One Planet Home programme has found ways to reduce the impacts of its own operations as well as by finding ways to help customers make their homes more sustainable. The aim of the annual report is to review the progress B&Q has made towards its One Planet Home commitments, highlighting both achievements and areas where progress has been more challenging. In two areas – cutting carbon emissions from business travel and reducing employee time lost due to accidents – B&Q has exceeded the agreed targets or is on course to meet them well before the set deadline. Finding alternative solutions for bedding plant products was identified as a focus for product development, supporting a number of One Planet Home principles including Zero Waste, Natural Habitats and Wildlife and Sustainable Packaging. In the autumn of 2013, Bioregional was invited to take a sneak preview at B&Q’s biggest product innovation to date – easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™ and in April 2014, we were delighted to see it appear on the shelves.

easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™ has reduced peat use by 95-99% across c.140milion bedding plants and replaced 22,500 cubic metres of polystyrene which placed end to end, would stretch from Land’s End to John O’Groats. easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™ is also helping to reduce costs and carbon emissions by reducing packaging volume by 50%, enabling a 30% improvement in logistical efficiency.

Matt Sexton, Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at B&Q, said: “At our inaugural growers summit we laid down the challenge that we wanted to be finally out of peat and polystyrene in bedding plants, following years of trialling different forms of packaging and tinkering with lower peat formulations. The solution was easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™, a remarkable innovation.”

Other achievements included in the Sustainability Review 2012/13 are:

  • 100% responsibly sourced timber in all products
  • Over 17,000 staff trained in One Planet Home
  • B&Q Energy Saving made 5,000 homes more energy efficient by installing boilers, controls and full heating systems
  • £750,000 donated to nominated charities
  • 72 range sustainability ratings completed; an internal mechanism to deliver product improvements and supply chain improvements on ethical and environmental issues

Good Woods, a partnership between B&Q, Bioregional and The Sylva Foundation celebrated a number of successes: 10,900 hectares of previously unmanaged woodland now has a sustainable management vision and 300 woodland owners have received a Woodland Star Rating, assessing the ecosystem service benefits of woodlands to wider society

But any ambitious sustainability plan will face challenges along the way and this is true of B&Qs commitment to make the deep cuts in carbon emissions. Reductions have plateaued in recent years, despite having come down by an impressive 97,000 tonnes or 31% in 2013/14, compared to the 2006 baseline. To hit the target of zero carbon stores by 2023, firm investment plans are needed.

Looking further afield at B&Q’s supply chain of over 400 suppliers at tier 1 alone, there is still the potential to improve ethical and environmental standards. easyGrow™ with Teabag Technology™ is a great example of an initiative that addressed many areas of sustainability, an approach that we hope to see replicated across other major supply chains in the coming years.

Sue Riddlestone, Chief Executive and Co-founder of Bioregional, said:“B&Q still remains one of the few retailers with an operational carbon reduction goal that is in line with climate science. Bioregional is proud to work alongside a team which strives to work within planetary boundaries and achieve the stretching targets set out in this One Planet Home report.”