Is Green in Your Future?

Being green. You can’t go a day without hearing about it. Escalating energy costs and a renewed awareness of the environment have put green initiatives at the top of the agenda for the global convenience industry. Retail industry leaders such as Walmart and Tesco are setting targets to reduce energy use by at least 20%. Convenience store operators such as BP, Giant Eagle, Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes, Ricker Oil and Rutter’s Farm Stores have all adopted cost-saving measures all aimed at reducing their carbon footprint.

But becoming environmentally responsible is not just an issue for industry leaders. For smaller operators cutting energy consumption is rapidly becoming a strategic priority.

To help convenience store retailers embrace the benefits of going green, NACS has produced the Green Toolkit to examine how industry operators have improved the impact of their stores on the environment, satisfied customers, improved sales and cut costs.

The kit includes:

• Strategies and tactics chains can adapt to their specific business needs.

• Case studies outlining what some companies are doing, which could help plan a strategic green approach.

• A model communication plan operators can use to inform customers, the local community and investors about their efforts.

Turning Green to Gold
The green movement dates back to the 1960s, yet saw very little progress for decades thereafter. Substantial progress is typically made only after governments mandate it or when businesses align their  objectives with societal goals and objectives.

Businesses can be both environmentally responsible and economically successful, NACS said. But why should convenience store owners focus on environmental responsibility? Why not literacy or healthcare or some other issue? “Quite simply, they affect the environment far more than literacy rates or healthcare delivery; it’s their sandbox,” the association said.

Convenience stores:

• Sell and store approximately 80% of the motor fuels in the U.S.

• Sell the highest percentage of immediately consumed packaged goods, which generates a lot of trash.

• Require paved parking lots, which create water runoff.

• Operate more carwashes than any other channel of trade, which affects water quality.

Retailer Benefits
Operators can agree that being environmentally responsible is a good thing, but how does it affect a company’s economic interests? It’s all about supply and demand.

On the demand side, retailers can tap into the growing consumer demand for eco-friendly products and practices and attract employees who want to work for socially responsible companies.

“Your company operates within a competitive and social context, so the benefits you realize from being environmentally responsible depend on two conditions: what your competitors are doing and what your community values,” NACS said. “You will need to weigh the costs, benefits, risks and opportunities associated with environmental responsibility, but no matter what course you choose, it will play a role.”

According to a 2008 survey by the research company Economist Intelligence Unit, the chief reasons for businesses to adopt sustainable practices were to attract new customers or retain existing ones. Some retailers describe adopting green strategies as “future proofing” their business. But there are other important reasons:

• Improved shareholder value.

• Better quality products and services.

• Reduced exposure to taxes.

• Increased brand equity.

For more on the NACS Green Toolkit, visit www.nacsonline.com.

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