The reference document for the Retail Trade sector


The sector

The retail trade sector is a significant component of the European economy that has grown strongly since 2000. It is strategically positioned after the production supply chain and in direct contact with consumers. As such, the retail sector has the ability to strongly influence both the production and consumption processes that give rise to environmental impact. Every stage of the production and consumption chain, from growing crops or raising livestock, through manufacturing, storage, distribution and consumption, to dealing with waste, has environmental impacts. The choices of all the actors along these value chains influence the environmental footprints of products and services, and the environmental performance of each other. Retailers are uniquely positioned to coordinate actions across suppliers and consumers, and drive substantial environmental improvements throughout their products’ value chains.


Within its work on identification of best environmental management practice and development of EMAS Sectoral Reference Documents for different sectors, the JRC developed a sectoral reference document on best environmental management practice for the retail trade sector. This was the first sector for which a Sectoral Reference Document and the related detailed technical report were produced.

The documents cover the whole value added chain for the products sold in retail stores, as shown in the following input/output scheme:

The Retail Trade Sector

The 'Best environmental management practices' (BEMPs) identified are grouped as follows:

  • BEMPs to improve the energy performance
  • BEMPs to improve the sustainability of retail supply chains
  • BEMPs to improve transport and logistics operations
  • BEMPs concerning waste
  • other BEMPs (reduced consumption and use of more environmentally-friendly paper for commercial publications, rainwater collection and reuse, and influencing consumer environmental behavior by means of the example of reducing plastic bags use.

The BEMPs identified cover the most significant environmental aspects of the sector, with the first two BEMP groups (energy performance and sustainbility of retail supply chains) representing the greatest environmental impacts associated with the sector.

For each BEMP, key environmental performance indicators (to measure the environmental performance in each area) and benchmarks of excellence (an indication of the level of environmental performance achieved by the best performers in the sector) were also identified. In addition, the work looked closely at the potential implementation of the best practices by SMEs by summarising and indexing relevant techniques.

Work plan

  • Contact with stakeholders and setting up the Technical Working Group (TWG): May - June 2009
  • Kick-off meeting of the Technical Working Group (TWG): Seville, 25 June 2009
  • Development of the background document and first draft of the best practice report, July 2009 – October 2010
  • Final Meeting of the TWG: Seville, 18-19 November 2010
  • Final draft of the best practice report: July 2011.
  • Official publication of the best practice report: January 2013.
  • Adoption of the EMAS Sectoral Reference Document: May 2015.

Current status

The two final outputs of this work were produced and published: the best practice report (Best Environmental Management Practice in the Retail Trade Sector) and the concise EMAS Sectoral Reference Document (SRD).

The SRD is the official document according to Article 46(1) of the EMAS regulation and it is adopted as a Commission Decision. It is available in all official EU languages.

The best practice report, which is much more comprehensive and detailed, is a publication of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre. It contains the full results of the research carried out and represents the most complete source of information for those organisations wishing to improve their environmental performance.

Project Team

The following people are part of the JRC EMAS SRDteam:

  • Paolo Canfora
  • Marco Dri
  • Ioannis Antonopoulos
  • Pierre Gaudillat

The best way to contact the JRC EMAS SRD team is sending an e-mail to JRC-EMAS-SRD@ec.europa.eu