Supporting sustainability in the EU retail sector: The Retail Forum and REAP

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Launched in 2009, the EU Retail Forum is a voluntary multi-stakeholder platform focused on reducing the environmental impact of the EU retail sector and its supply chain, promoting more sustainable products and informing consumers about “green” purchasing opportunities. Membership is voluntary and open to all retailers who join the Retailers' Environmental Action Programme (REAP). Currently in its third phase (2016-2018), REAP counts 26 signatories amongst retailers and retail associations. (

Since the end of the first reporting year, BiPRO (a Ramboll company) has been responsible for the external annual monitoring of the progress of REAP signatories on behalf of the European Commission (Directorate General Environment). The work is performed together with the Austrian Environmental Protection Agency, who is a partner in the BiPRO-led consortium ETREAP.

The annual assessment of progress in retailer commitments and company performance covers energy efficiency, greening of the distribution system, marketing and communication, sustainable products, carbon emissions, packaging optimisation, waste and water management, and sustainable supply chain. Monitoring entails an evaluation of the underlying regulatory frameworks that may trigger specific action in individual countries or regions. Information and data are collected directly from company reporting to REAP, annual progress reports prepared under REAP, and company annual and corporate social responsibility reports. Commitments and best practice examples are verified by of visits conducted at regular intervals to distribution centres and outlets of all REAP members in the European Union countries where they have a presence. This approach yields a comparative assessment of company-specific and sectoral changes over time, which positions us to provide support and advice not only to the European regulatory authorities, but to individual member retailers as well.

For the first five years, the evaluation of progress by topic area focussed on a presentation of individual company priorities. In 2016 we completed a retrospective sectoral evaluation of REAP performance, and an impact assessment against the circular economy package, environmental hot spots and EMAS criteria. Results were compared with EMAS best management practices (BEMP) and related key indicators where relevant.

From 2017 onwards, we will focus on the evaluation of the new commitments taken under the circular economy package – namely commitments related to production and end-of-life phase.


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Ramboll USA, Inc.

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