Fostering sustainable behaviour in retail: Looking beyond the coffee cup

Jennifer Ferreira

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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    Purpose: Rapid growth in consumption of goods and resources has implications for environmental sustainability. Businesses have an important role in fostering sustainable behaviour and driving innovations in sustainability in different industries, including retail.

    Approach: The paper begins by exploring the importance of integrating sustainable behaviour in business and introduces some of the stakeholders involved. This is followed by an exploration of developments in the coffee shop industry and implications for sustainable behaviour, focusing on the examples of recyclable coffee cups, coffee shop building design and waste coffee grounds. Finally, a research agenda is introduced which considers pathways for investigating the role of different actors in fostering sustainable behaviour and the importance of place.

    Findings: The paper demonstrates that businesses have an important role in driving sustainable behaviour, but that this is a multifaceted process, involving a range of stakeholders who can influence their success. The article utilises the examples of disposable coffee cups to illustrate a growing problem around waste production, and the variety of stakeholders who can be involved in shaping sustainable behaviours. Innovation will be important for driving sustainable practices, but these may stem directly from particular industries, or innovators who recognise business opportunities in waste produce.

    Implications: For sustainable behaviours to be successfully adopted, businesses are important drivers of change. In retail, businesses have the potential to gain both from the economic benefits of cost savings associated with reducing waste and energy use, but also from the consumer perceptions that their business is acting responsibly. For many retail businesses, like the coffee shop industry, to continue to be viable in the future, sustainable behaviour will have to go beyond being a component of a CSR and become an integrated component of the business model.

    Contribution: This paper uses the coffee shop industry as a lens to approach how sustainable behaviours can be integrated in business, from efforts to recycle and reduce consumption, to changes to building design and exploring ways to engage in the circular economy. It explores how business activities and responsibilities can be intertwined with the actions of other actors involved in the market, from the regulators to the consumers. It also highlights how the place in which the business is embedded is of vital importance for understanding how to drive sustainable business.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-28
    Number of pages8
    JournalSocial Business
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


    • Sustainability
    • Retail
    • Coffee Shops
    • Waste
    • Circular Economy


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