LONDON – U.K.-based retailer Thornton’s Budgens has won the 2019 NACS European Convenience Retail Sustainability Award, sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company.
Presented during the NACS Convenience Summit Europe awards dinner in London on 6 June, the award recognizes Thornton’s Budgens for its outstanding pursuit of a significant and compelling sustainability initiative that has significantly improved commercial performance, competitiveness, customer perception, staff engagement and prospects for continued financial strength.
“We congratulate Thornton’s Budgens on the award and the recognition of their efforts to raise awareness around the critical issue of plastic pollution”, said Jay Ard, vice president of industry affairs for Coca-Cola North America. “Thornton’s Budgens lives out its manifesto to be a force for good in society and they have an approach to doing business in a way that shows they care about people and the planet, not just profits.”
“At Coca-Cola, we also believe that profitability is important, but not at any cost,” Ard added. Sustainability is at the heart of our business, and we are also embracing our responsibility to do business the right way and be part of the solution to packaging waste. We have a bold vision for a world without waste, whereby we are investing in our planet and innovation to help make the world’s packaging problem a thing of the past. Like Thornton’s Budgens, we have a commitment to create a positive impact in the communities we call home.”
Founded in 2006, Thornton’s Budgens, located in Belsize Park, North London, launched plastic-free zones inside the store in November 2018, after converting 1,825 product lines to non-plastic packaging within a 10-week time frame. During the process, the retailer worked with A Plastic Planet to source plastic-free suppliers. The move resulted in consumer and international attention, with the retailer acknowledging the shifting consumer mindset toward plastic and its impact on the environment, as well as growing social and corporate pressures to reduce plastic use.
According to Andrew Thornton, owner of Thornton’s Budgens, plastic-free is a top-criteria for shoppers’ choice of store, whereas a year ago it wasn’t even on the list. He believes “Blue Planet II,” a British television series, has helped change the consumer mindset. “There’s been lots of coverage for a long time but because [broadcaster and natural historian] David Attenborough is so respected, and the viewership is so broad, it really hit people,” he said in an interview with newsletter Global Convenience Store Focus.
Thornton also says that the plastic-free initiative shows other retailers that reducing plastic is not difficult to execute, can bring positive benefits to the business and serve as a competitive advantage.
For a decade the retailer has been an industry leader in sustainability initiatives. In June 2009, Thornton created an “Energy Team” within the store to implement a strategic energy plan and identify and eliminate wasted energy, particularly in refrigeration and lighting. As a result, the retailer began reducing its carbon footprint by replacing old equipment with energy-efficient cooler doors and installing LED lighting.
“Thornton’s Budgens has made extraordinary commitments and achieved noteworthy results in its pursuit of sustainability. The company has exhibited true leadership in this critically important dimension of social and fiduciary responsibility,” said NACS President and CEO Henry Armour.
The NACS Convenience Summit Europe brings together convenience and fuel retailing industry professionals from around the world for new knowledge, new commercial connections and networking, and the opportunity to discover and discuss new ideas from retail store tours. A highlight of the event is the prestigious International Convenience Retail Awards, now in their 11th year, that recognize and promote convenience retailing excellence.