'The Hanger Project is a clear demonstration of the commitment by Myer Stores Ltd. to sound environmental practice within a business framework.' - Myer Grace Bros
Five elements of concern
Myer Stores Ltd. is an Australian-based retailer trading as Myer, Grace Bros Department Stores and Myer Direct in over 80 sites nationally, generating annual sales of $3.346 billion (1992-93). In addition to an extensive customer base the company has trading relationships with in excess of 12,000 suppliers.
During 1990, concern was developing within the organisation with regard to the company's position on environmental practice. Five elements were fuelling this concern:
- increasing public awareness of an organisation's impact upon the environment
- a shift in consumer preference to products seen as more environmentally responsible
- increasing environmental legislation requirements
- internal requirements to conserve energy and minimise waste
- as a retailer, the company was situated at the end of the distribution chain's inherent waste stream.
The Management Committee approved the appointment of an external consultant to provide guidance and advice during development of the Environment Strategy. An Environment Steering Committee was established with representatives from all relevant areas, in recognition of the long-term nature of the issues at stake. In all, eleven primary and secondary key impact areas were identified. These were:
- retail product and product packaging
- carry bags
- transit packaging
- waste management
- hazardous materials
- internal supplies
- energy efficiency
- new and refurbished stores
- environmental housekeeping
- internal and external communications
This case study outlines the approach taken by Myer Grace Bros to one of its primary key impact areas, namely the use of hangers.
Prior to commencement of work on the Hanger Project, the company lacked a policy on hangers and any controls on the range, shape or material composition of hangers used in merchandise presentation.
The major problems associated with the use of hangers in Myer Stores Ltd. in 1991 were:
- the company used 30 million hangers per annum and at the end of the hanger's useful life each one was consigned to the waste stream
- hangers were frequently left unspecified by the apparel buyer. With the garment supplier left to source a hanger the end result in store was a plethora of various hanger styles, hanger qualities and merchandise presentations
- large volumes of hangers stored in shop reserve areas to cater for merchandise deliveries without a hanger or on an inappropriate hanger
- significant labour costs expended in each store to hang and re-hang garments upon receipt in store.