Understanding the social and environmental benefits and impacts of our business is critical if we're to have a sustainable future. We have a strong and long heritage of actively caring about these issues, building our knowledge through in‑house expertise and external collaboration, and then acting positively to make a genuine difference.
This approach within our product development processes drives innovation that meets our customers' needs whilst ensuring that we continue to protect and improve the environment and local communities within our supply chains around the world.
Our product journey
We ensure that our decisions are based on a whole-life approach to product sustainability, embracing the complete product lifecycle. Every product and every supply chain can have different impacts at different stages in the product lifecycle, from concept and design, through to customer use and final disposal of the packaging and waste product. We call this holistic lifecycle approach our 'Product Journey'.
Reducing our product footprints
In 2010 we introduced our Product Sustainability Strategy to bring together a series of previous initiatives into a single strategy aiming to embed and continually improve sustainability standards in all Boots brand and exclusive products.
That same year, we developed a web-based tool that quickly and simply analyses and scores 24 sustainability indicators throughout a product's entire lifecycle. The tool was peer reviewed by Forum for the Future (a non-profit organisation which works globally with business and government to create a sustainable future) and launched in May 2011. Take a look at the following video to see how this works.
Our process enables the creation of a sustainability profile, or 'footprint', for any product or range of products, which allows us to score and compare the relative performance of individual ingredients, products and entire product ranges. It identifies any impact 'hotspots' (high risk areas) and produces a database of sustainability performance data. This allows analysis, reporting, and greater understanding of the available sustainability improvement opportunities. It also enables well-focused improvement targets to be established.
|An initial sustainability footprint example
||An improved sustainability footprint example
Product development and technical staff at both our Nottingham support office and our sourcing office in Hong Kong have been trained to use the sustainability model. We are also engaging with our suppliers in the use of this tool.
By the end of March 2012 we had used this process to assess products within seven Boots cosmetics and toiletries brands, and we've begun to use the insights gained to set sustainability objectives for the future development of these brands.
We are also using the data from our product sustainability assessments to help the government's Waste Resources Action Programme (WRAP), working with their Product Sustainability Forum to develop a strategy on achieving more sustainable use of resources over the entire lifecycle of products, throughout the whole supply chain. Click here for further information.
Our teams continually evaluate new technologies and ideas for packaging development and product formulation, often looking to develop new product ideas up to three years in advance. This future-focused work includes consideration of sustainability to minimise risks, such as resource scarcity, and to optimise the impacts of raw material inventories and packaging choices within the product journey.
Research and collaboration
Collaboration is the only way to tackle complex, global sustainable development issues. We do this by working with other experts in the field including policy makers, academia and NGOs (non-government organisations) such as pressure groups and charities.
Since 2010 we've sponsored the Green Alliance 'Designing out Waste' project to bring together retailers, manufacturers, government and the waste management sector to ensure that efficient end to end processes are in place to reduce the impact of waste. This work has now entered a new phase with the launch of the Circular Economy Task Force, a partnership of government and business with assistance from key observer organisations, to address resource opportunities and concerns, disseminate leadership thinking and provide a forum for policy innovation.
We also work with universities such as Loughborough University and Nottingham Trent University on research projects in the area of sustainable product design and developing sustainable business models.
Boots UK is a member of the Product Sustainability Roundtable, a group of major international businesses whose aim is to share insights and best practice in product sustainability.
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