We’ve written previously about the case for measuring embedded carbon in retail displays and the use of LIST (Low Impact Shopfitting Tool).
LIST is an online resource which, drawing on a wealth of sustainability benchmarking factors, enables retail display designers to evaluate the carbon footprint and overall sustainability of their plans prior to fabrication and installation.
It is a vital component of retail’s industry-wide effort to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040.
Yet measuring embedded carbon alone is not enough unless it leads to carbon reduction.
In this article, we’re going to look at how embedded carbon levels can be reduced in retail display through sustainable design thinking.
The importance of sustainable thinking in display design
Sustainable design thinking sits right at the very heart of the wider subject of sustainability in retail display.
When it comes to finding ways to reduce the level of embedded carbon in these retail displays, designers are faced with a range of variables that must be balanced in order to fulfil multiple goals.
For example, balancing measures to reduce embedded carbon against cost efficiency requirements can be complex. At the same time, ensuring that consumer brand experience is maintained and exceeds expectation may present retail display designers with a further dilemma.
To bring sustainable thinking to the retail display design process, in particular where carbon reduction is a key objective, therefore requires:
Where the carbon reduction journey starts
The carbon footprint of the retail sector as a whole encompasses operational emissions generated by heating, cooling and power across retail space – as well as, of course, by the logistical process of bringing product to the retail floor or warehouse.
These “operational emissions” can be measured and reduced by selecting sustainable, energy-efficient suppliers wherever possible.
The other major carbon footprint contributor is the manufacture and installation of retail display, namely the extraction, manufacture, transportation, assembly, maintenance, deconstruction, reuse and eventual disposal of the materials used in the design. This is sometimes called “whole life impact” and is measured in tonnes or kilograms of CO2.
Carbon reduction possibilities need to be identified across the full lifecycle of every display component, factoring in how each can be:
All these factors impact and contribute to a retail display, yet also offer opportunities to reduce the carbon footprint. Each one should feature in a sustainable approach to retail display.
Sustainable display design for disassembly and recycling
Material choice features high on the list of options for reducing carbon in retail display. Clearly single use plastics, composites and other man-made materials impact on sustainability.
As such, PVC wraps or adhesive surface layers applied to core retail display construction materials hamper end-of-life recycling. Sustainably oriented designers find ways to substitute these materials with sustainable options in their retail displays.
These approaches to reducing embedded carbon in display designs may be perceived as adding unwanted complexity to retail.
But increased sustainability and targeting a net zero carbon emission profile by reducing existing levels of embedded carbon is simply no longer a choice.
One option open to retailers and brands that are committing to reducing carbon in their retail displays it to use the services of a retail design specialist such as Displayplan, itself committed to achieving net zero carbon.
Using a retail design specialist can help both shorten the journey and reduce the timescale.
Displayplan’s sustainable design thinking approach is aimed at lowering embedded carbon levels across its display designs and includes:
In our next article, we’ll be looking at offsetting carbon emissions that cannot be reduced using the above measures.
Displayplan is a leading provider of retail display solutions that deliver great brand experiences, grow retail engagement and increase sales. We are committed to a sustainable approach in everything we do. We won the POPAI 2016 sustainability award through the application of our lifecycle thinking in evolving and reducing embedded CO2 and design for disassembly principles in our displays.
With 35 years in the display business, we combine retail display design excellence with physical and digital in-store media for the world’s most prominent brands and retailers.
Call us to discuss your retail display requirements and request a call with one of our consultants.