The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) in India has categorized the retail sector as an energy-intensive industry which needs to optimise its operations to become sustainable. The food and beverage sub-sector constitutes about 60% of the retail sector and generates large amounts of waste. In addition, 40% of food production is estimated to end up as waste due to improper handling, transportation, and storage.
The project Green Retail, therefore, targets the food and beverage small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in India in order to green the retail industry in the country by facilitating the switch to resource efficient practices in retailers’ operations and contributing to the evolution of green consumers. Green Retail was part of the European Commission’s SWITCH Asia Programme; and was implemented by ASSIST, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Collaborating Centre on Sustainable Consumption and Production (CSCP), Retailers Association of India, AREC and STENUM Asia. This project involved agricultural and livestock producers, food processing industries, retailers and consumers across the value and supply chains.
ASSIST undertook the following interventions for this project: creation of a sustainable business model for retailers; management and oversight of supply chain members; promotions of sustainable consumption; strengthening of partnerships and sustainability reporting. Improvements were made in three focus-areas – supplier and manufacturing practices; retailing and in-store practices and consumption and end-of-life practices. Some of the positive impacts reported by the participating SMEs include a reduction in energy bills, reduction in consumption of oil, improved electrical safety, improved efficiency of thermal systems, increase in production and a decrease in carbon dioxide emissions.