For Americans, the name “Boots Pharmacy” may not be a familiar one. For those in the British Isles, however, it’s roughly the equivalent of Walgreens or CVS in the United States.

For over 165 years, Boots UK has built a reputation for care, with expertise and engagement that’s aimed at improving the health and overall wellbeing of their customers and communities. This commitment carries over into everything that Boots UK does, with customers and patients at the core of everything they do. In light of that, Boots UK also follows a strong dedication to sustainability and social responsibility. Here are few of the best practices that are in place at Boots Pharmacy UK:

Energy and Carbon Reduction 

Sometimes simple, common-sense solutions are the best ones when it comes to cutting energy use. There are things that most of us do at home, like using energy-efficient LED light bulbs, adding insulation to our attics or just remembering to cut off lights when they’re not in use. Now, think about the impact that those kinds of measures can have across a chain of 2,500 stores.

Energy and carbon reduction are one of the core priorities at Boots UK, with emphasis on the following areas:

  • Discovering and investing in solutions such as energy-efficient lighting and LEED-compliant HVAC systems for stores.
  • Making environmental consciousness part of the corporate culture by giving employees guidance and motivation to make a difference.
  • Automated building systems that cut back on energy usage during off hours and allow for tighter management of energy consumption.
  • Using devices that actually lower the voltage of the electricity that’s being supplied to the building, resulting in cutbacks in energy use.
  • Setting up certain stores as pilot programs to test new technologies and innovations, then studying the results from those pilot stores and rolling them out through the entire chain.

Sustainable Products 

Boots UK is more than just a retailer. They’re a product developer as well, with a commitment to creating and supplying products that customers know and love, and they’re mindful of the environmental footprint of their business and products.

It can take as long as three years or more for a product to go from a concept to something customers can walk in and buy off the shelf. At every step of the way, there are environmental and ethical considerations, including ingredients, manufacturing process, customer use, shipping, packaging, and disposal. Boots UK has developed a computer software that “scores” a product along 24 environmental and sustainability indicators, throughout the entire lifecycle of the product.

Toward this goal, the company is teamed with the Circular Economy Task Force, which partners government advisers with representatives from select leading businesses to study resource opportunities and provide leadership thinking. They also work with university researchers to study sustainable product models and business practices, as well as having a seat on the Sustainability Leaders Forum to share ideas and best practices for product sustainability. The information gathered from these projects informs the government’s Waste Resources Action Programme, moving toward best practices through a product’s entire lifecycle.

Supply Chain and Logistics 

Distribution and transport costs are a big part of the equation for any business like Boots UK, and are also some of the biggest sources of carbon emissions. Boots UK has studied this equation and has come up with some solutions that make sense for the environment and the bottom line both:

  • Using input from the store chain to plan out routes and schedules that are the most efficient while keeping store stocks current. This cuts fuel usage and emissions as well as cutting overhead for the company.
  • Routing deliveries during off-peak times, with drivers spending less time in traffic jams.
  • Using double-deck trailers to maximize the amount of products that can be hauled by a single truck.
  • Routing empty delivery trucks to pick up products from vendors on their way back to their home warehouses or distribution centers.

Making a Difference 

As we mentioned, many of the ideas that are in place at Boots UK might seem like little more than common sense, and in many ways that’s what they are. But when they’re applied end-to-end through a company that has 2,500 stores, they can add up to a pretty big difference in energy usage and carbon reduction. Best of all, they make good sense from a business standpoint – if a company can cut their energy usage, fuel costs and water/electric bills across their entire chain, why would they not want to take advantage of that?

Recycling, responsible product design, innovations in energy use and Boots’ company culture of responsibility and mindfulness – that’s how they do business at Boots UK. It’s something that other big companies should take note of and perhaps try to follow their lead.