Environmental Retail Supply Chains: When Global Goliaths become Environmental Davids

Herbert Kotzab, Hilde Munch, Birgitte de Faultrier, Christoph Teller

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to develop a scale that evaluates the environmental elements in retail supply chains and to examine the environmental supply chain management initiatives of the world's largest 100 retailing companies.

Design/methodology/approach – The empirical evaluation has been undertaken through an investigative approach applying a web-scan framework which included the analysis of web sites and publicly published documents such as annual reports and corporate social responsibility reports.

Findings – The authors identified 34 environmental sustainability initiatives which were grouped into eight categories; they refer to “fundamental environmental attitude”, “use of energy”, “use of input material”, “product”, “packaging”, “transport”, “consumption” and “waste”. The level of environmental supply chain management can be characterised as very operational and very short-term oriented (green operations). Long-term oriented green design initiatives were hardly observed. Furthermore, the specific environmental activities of three retailers from Denmark, France and the UK were compared.

Research limitations/implications – The empirical study investigates supply chain operations of retailers and excludes other areas of retail management. The results are based on material that is published by the respective companies and thus do not include internal reports.

Originality/value – The main contribution of this paper is to test the proposition that global retailers follow the path of the “Greening Goliaths”, where environmental sustainability becomes a quasi industry standard for the ecological sustainability transformation of global retailing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)658-681
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Environmental sustainability
  • Ecology
  • Environment
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Global retailing

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