Now or Never: Rallying Retailers to Lead the Charge in Sustainability


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Guest Contributor: Joe Solly, Deloitte Canada, Partner & National Consumer Sustainability & Climate Leader 

For retailers, there’s a pivotal need to resonate with consumers, not just through products but through shared values and genuine purpose. Deloitte’s 2023 report Creating Value From Sustainable Products highlights a significant disconnect between corporate sustainability claims and actual consumer perceptions. While retailers and manufacturers are making substantial progress towards net zero emissions and a circular economy, equal emphasis needs to be placed on effectively communicating these advancements to consumers. It is only when retailers, manufacturers, policymakers, and consumers engage collaboratively will we truly see the strides required for a sustainable future.

Deloitte’s findings underscore the importance of creating a unified platform where all key stakeholders converge to share insights, learn from each other’s experiences, and forge a united front against the relentless challenge of climate change. Retail Council of Canada’s Retail Sustainability Conference on October 3, 2023, in Toronto, offers precisely that – a unique forum designed for the retail community and its stakeholders to synergize.

Deloitte, renowned for its commitment to sustainability, recently unveiled its report on the intersect between sustainability and consumer trust. A striking revelation from the study indicates that despite the seismic shifts towards sustainability in the retail sector, consumer trust remains at a fragile equilibrium. A brand’s purpose-driven initiatives must be transparent, authentic, and resonate deeply with its audience for it to forge a lasting trust bond. This report, amongst many other insights, will be a focal discussion at the conference, enabling attendees to gain an in-depth understanding of how to bridge the trust gap.

Key sessions like “Leadership’s Blueprint to Net Zero” will provide attendees invaluable insights from the frontlines of sustainable initiatives. Industry leaders, including Geraldine Huse (P&G Canada), and George Soleas (LCBO), will delve into their organizations’ transformational steps toward net zero waste and emissions. They’ll spotlight their challenges and successes with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) systems, sustainable packaging innovations, and the intricacies of supply chain management.

“Sustainability at the Core: Retail’s Path to Zero Waste and Net Zero” will be another cornerstone discussion.  Kim Saunders (Canadian Tire Corporation), Joe McMahan (Maple Leaf Foods), and Gemma Hinksman (McDonald’s Canada) will discuss their trailblazing efforts in sustainable packaging and waste reduction. An understanding of how consumers have embraced these initiatives, and the ripple effects of the changes on these organizations’ brand reputations and on their journeys to a circular economy will be an important conference takeaway. 

The conference’s agenda is very comprehensive and will also cover, everything from the role of technology, AI, standards, reporting, operationalizing decarbonization, to the elimination of empty miles.  

Not to be missed will be the special opening keynote by Galen Weston, President and Chairman of Loblaw Companies Limited.  In an evolving EPR landscape, industry led solutions are critical to addressing the urgent plastic waste challenge facing Canada. Galen Weston will share how that sort of system change underpins Loblaw’s commitment to make all control brand and in-store plastic packaging recyclable and reusable by 2025.  

In conclusion, RCC’s Retail Sustainability Conference is not just another event; it’s a call for collaborative action. Whether you’re a retailer, manufacturer, policymaker, or a stakeholder vested in a sustainable future, this is a not-to-be-missed opportunity to be part of this transformative journey.

Tickets are available the RCC Retail Sustainability Conference website.  A 20% discount applies to groups of 5 our more. 

Joe Solly

Joe Solly, a Partner at Deloitte Toronto, is the National Consumer Leader for Sustainability and Climate with over 28 years of experience across sectors like retail, automotive, and hospitality. He’s an expert in sustainability strategy, supply chain, risk management, and corporate disclosure. As a key figure in Deloitte’s global Consumer team, Joe collaborates internationally to optimize sustainability and climate investments.


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