Retailers urged to get involved in environmental debates

Posted by Isobel Drake on 24th October 2008

Plastic Bag

Peak retail industry body the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) yesterday called on retailers to get involved with environmental debates, including the proposed emissions trading scheme and plastic bag bans.

Speaking to an auditorium of over 300 at the Future’s So Bright Green conference, ARA Executive Director Richard Evans encouraged retailers to embrace the opportunity in the challenge to ‘go green’ by engaging with governments. “Whether you agree with the science or not, there is no doubt the environment is a priority right now,” he commented. “The Federal Government is planning to introduce an Emissions Trading Scheme – the biggest economic reform since the introduction of the GST and retailers must be engaged. As the catchment point for the flow on effects of ETS price impacts through supply channels, this will have an enormous impact on retailers as will the proposed bans and levies on plastic bags.”

“The issue for the retail sector is that the current environmental concern sits in the context of an unstable economic climate and new environmental legislation will burden retailers with unaffordable compliance costs,” Mr Evans added.

“Retailers need to open the lines of communication regarding proposed environmental legislation, including ETS and plastic bag bans and levies. But in this current societal panic, ‘skepticism’ is a dirty word – and this is dangerous. Because when society panics and skepticism is condemned, the door to debate and discussion is closed.”

“I don’t doubt the rivers are dry. I don’t doubt we need to protect the earth and our natural resources. But there is no doubt we still have more to learn about current environmental concerns and I encourage retailers to ask the hard questions. The message from the ARA to our members and all Australian retailers is to engage in active political debate regarding government environmental legislation whilst reducing our carbon footprint,” Mr Evans concluded.