Episode #4: Is the Goal for Sustainability to Disappear?

Christina Downend, Head of Climate Change and Sustainability at Dunelm, joins host Joachim Nahem for our latest episode.

In this episode

Christina delves into the give and take at the forefront of supply chain sustainability and whether ESG regulations are a case of the tail wagging the dog. Get unique insights on why delivering sustainability in an affordable way to consumers has become mission-critical for net zero targets. This episode also unpacks the question: Is the inherent ambition of sustainability professionals to not be needed in the future? Listen in to hear how retail giant Dunelm is innovating on the front line of sustainable enterprise.

About Dunelm

Dunelm is one of the largest UK homeware retail companies. Listed on the FTSE250 index of the London Stock Exchange and with an annual revenue of over £1.64bn, Dunelm is one of the most recognisable British household names, with hundreds of superstores across the country.

Christina has been responsible for co-creating Dunelm’s first credible environmental sustainability strategy and has led the submission of their net zero and 2030 carbon reduction targets which have been validated by the SBTi. In her previous role, Christina headed the project that in 2017 saw Tesco become the first British company to set an SBTi-approved carbon reduction target aligned to the 1.5-degree limit.

Some questions include:

Speaking of sustainability in more concrete terms, what is material for Dunelm?

Our carbon footprint in particular, as over 90% of our emissions come from the products that we sell. Our circularity progamme focuses on trying to reduce the impact from the products. And we’re expanding our targets to start including manufacturing level targets as well as end of life product targets.”

You’ve had your targets validated by the SBTi and you probably report and do a lot of things based on standards. What’s your take on the perceived administrative burden of the evolving regulatory landscape?

When they’ve been supportive and they’ve been done well, they have quite often been an unlock for companies to really activate their thinking and actually activate their strategies. The more integrated and standardised they become the better.”

How do you get your suppliers to live up to your standard for sustainability?

It can’t just be a one-way communication. You have to ensure that everyone’s on the same page and they understand the context as to why you’re wanting to move in that direction and then also share in the co-benefits. It’s definitely a collective journey that we want to go on with them.”

About Sustainable Edge

The Sustainable Edge podcast series delves into the challenges and opportunities for achieving a net-zero economy and the UN SDGs by 2030. Hosted by Position Green’s Executive Chairman, Joachim Nahem, the series explores sustainability issues that are top of mind among business leaders, investors, and policymakers, and how to drive value creation and increase competitiveness by turning ESG data insights into targeted action.

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