EU Science Hub

Best environmental management practices for the retail trade sector

Jul 31 2013

An extensive set of best environmental management practices (BEMPs) has been identified and analysed by the JRC to allow organisations within the retail trade sector to minimise their direct and indirect impact on the environment. In its comprehensive report, the JRC describes several techniques, measures and actions to improve the energy performance, the sustainability of the supply chain, transport and logistics, waste and water management, and to influence consumer behaviour and consumption.

For each BEMP a benchmark of excellence was derived. Retailers could aim for a heat consumption of 0 kWh/m² year, for example, by recovering the waste heat from the refrigeration cycle and maximising its use. A 100% guarantee of supply chain environmental sustainability could be achieved by excluding worst performing products and by requiring widespread certification according to third party environmental standards. Implementing take-back systems, for PET or PE bottles for instance, and integrating them in the company logistics could lead to an 80% return if the consumer does not pay a deposit, and up to a 90% return with deposit. For each benchmark the economic viability and technical feasibility is also described, providing a clear picture of the investment and operation costs and of the conditions under which a certain technique can be implemented.

In addition, the report presents a table on the applicability of the different BEMPs to small and medium enterprises (SME's) within the retail trade sector. SMEs wishing to improve their environmental performance will be able to work with this user-friendly analysis


The JRC identifies, evaluates and documents BEMPs for different sectors in close co-operation with the relevant stakeholders, as there is significant scope for improving their environmental performance. It follows the frontrunner approach, studying those techniques, measures or actions that are implemented by organisations within the sector that are most advanced in terms of environmental performance in each of many areas, such as energy efficiency, resource efficiency, emissions, and also supply chain management.

of costs, applicability and environmental benefits.