Retailers must play their part in selling sustainability, says Amdea boss

Amdea CEO Paul Hide has told retailers that the industry has a collective responsibility to encourage consumers to embrace sustainability and that reaching net zero required collaborative action and was not down to manufacturers alone.

Speaking recently at the annual conference held by electrical retailers association Retra, the boss of the white-goods manufacturers association spoke about the challenges ahead to reach net zero.

He said: “Now is the time to ensure that your customer conversations on sustainable appliance purchases are set at equal priority to features, performance and design. Your customers will expect, even demand this information and are likely to end their relationships with suppliers and retailers who fail to actively support sustainable purchases.”

He added: “We have a collective responsibility to educate and encourage greater levels of household action linked to sustainable appliance use. Individual small actions can make a collective big difference. We encourage you to help your customers choose appliances that best meet their requirements and to purchase appliances with the best energy efficiency/ recyclability within their budgets, along with education on behaviour relating to optimising efficient appliance usage and minimising food wastage.”

But Hide acknowledged that sustainability had not always been a priority for consumers. He said: “Historically customer purchase decisions, within a given budget, have been primarily driven by features, performance and design. Environmental and sustainability factors have, historically, been of secondary consideration.”

He pointed out that research conducted by Amdea last year has shown that is changing and that more consumers are considering sustainable products. Amdea surveyed 2,000 households last year and found that almost 67% of those said they would be more likely to buy an appliance made of some recycled materials. In a separate survey by Whirlpool, half of those polled said they valued innovations that use less energy.

He recommended that retailers should be selling the benefits of greener products to their customers. He said: “Selling efficiency benefits to your customers is as much about educating householders to purchase appliances that best serve their needs (i.e., not larger than required) and using appliances on their most efficient settings. ‘Eco’ settings on washing machines and dishwashers can play a major role in reducing energy bills.”

He pointed out that Amdea members’ tests showed that running a dishwasher or washing machine on Eco settings can reduce energy costs by £1 a week.

But Hide struck a realistic note about the journey ahead on sustainability. He said: “No one in the global appliance industry is under any illusion that the path to Net Zero for the total circular economy cycle of appliance manufacturing, shipment, use and disposal is a must achieve goal and that the pace of change needs to accelerate. Increased access to extended life repairability is one part of that, but most important is appliances that can offer a net zero cradle to grave footprint.”

In his summing up, Hide said: “This is a challenge that requires joint and collaborative action, it’s not down to the manufacturers alone. We can expect increasingly challenging global regulations and incentives that will push all industrial sectors towards net zero. Governments will want to have a key say in the pace of change, laying the foundations upon which a net zero economy can evolve within the challenging time frames that have been committed to.”

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