More than twenty-five leading UK retailers, including John Lewis, Next and House of Fraser, have pledged to participate in a new sustainability action plan with the British Retail Consortium to tackle some of the largest global challenges faced by the industry.

The new initiative, entitled the Better Retail Better World Initiative, sees the retailer commit to a series of pledges based on the United Nations Sustainable Development agenda as a framework. The Better Retail Better World initiative includes a number of targets the retail industry must achieve by 2020, which include reducing waste, greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation and publicly disclosing how they are supporting individuals from underrepresented demographics to progress in employment.

The initiative also calls on all retailers to embed a policy that ensure no worker in the supply chain should pay for a job, a practice which helps safeguard against modern slavery while ensuring low-wage workers do not have to borrow large sums of money to cover any recruitment fees which essentially puts them at risk of exploitation, including debt bondage.

“This is part of a growing movement for change. It is time for the retail industry to show what it can do for the common good,” said Richard Pennycook, chairman of the British Retail Consortium, on the launch of Better Retail Better World in a statement. “We are taking collective action to build a better, more prosperous and sustainable world, and demonstrating how we are making a positive contribution to society, in terms of the supply chain, food packaging, and waste.”

The launch of the new initiative follows on from the launch of the first industry-led Retail Sector Council last week, which aims to encourage growth and positive change in the sector.