6Rs of Sustainable Retail Displays

19 March 2021

This is great news! By arriving on this page, it means that you’re ready to take your in-store retail displays to the next level of sustainability.

To help retail marketers like you, we’ve created the 6Rs of Sustainable Retail Displays, which aim to challenge the retail planning and design process and give you all of the important factors to think so that your retails displays can be as eco-friendly as possible.  

If you’ve landed on this page because you’ve already downloaded our Sustainable Retail Displays Cheat Sheet, you’ll already know the basics of the 6Rs, that’s great!

If you haven’t, you can download the Sustainable Retail Displays Cheat Sheet here…

So, let’s get started and dive straight into the 6Rs of Sustainable Retail Displays – Explained.


Can you rethink the design so that it lasts longer?

Many retailers are now making the transition from the ‘throw-away’ culture of POS displays and designing more hardwearing temporary in-store campaigns that will last much longer. With clever design, these displays can be rebranded and repurposed for different campaigns and instead of lasting only a few weeks, can last many months.

Longevity in-store can play a key role in creating sustainable displays, and careful planning and material consideration can not only make your display much more environmentally friendly but also more cost-effective too!

Can you use alternative materials that are environmentally friendly?

There are a huge number of eco-friendly alternatives to traditionally used display materials these days, so make sure you ask the question when you’re planning your display whether there is something that might fit the job.

We offer a range of eco-alternatives that are suitable to create temporary and permanent retail displays. We’d love to share them with you, just email us on info@threepd.co.uk and we’d be happy to show you.

Can you redesign the display so it’s easier to recycle?

Some display materials are easier to recycle than others, so a top tip when planning a retail display would be to question how it can be recycled after use. Is it easy for whoever is going to dispose of the display? Will they know how? Is it obvious?

There are a number of ways in which retail displays can be recycled, with many materials now being able to be recycled in one way or another. This is great for the industry, but an important thing to remember is to make sure this is communicated to those that are ultimately responsible for recycling it.

Can you include a message on your display to inform of its eco-friendliness?

Once your display has finished its purpose in-store, the likelihood that its often not going to be you, the people who planned the display who will be disposing of it. A top tip is to consider including recyclable information in the form of stickers or labels to your display to guide whoever it is disposing of your display that it can be recycled. Just remember, you might want to put these somewhere where shoppers won’t see it, such us on the back or on the bottom of the display itself.

Another thing to consider is whether you do actually want to communicate to shoppers that the display is eco-friendly. Whether its recyclable, made from sustainable materials or both, this can actually be something that can influence a shopper into making their buying decision. More and more shoppers are demanding environmentally friendly products, so maybe adding this to your display messaging could be a good thing. 


Can you reduce the number of materials used?

In simple terms, the less materials you use the less there are to recycle after use. It can also make the process of evaluating how sustainable your displays are much easier as the more materials you use will have likely been sourced from different core suppliers so will have a higher carbon footprint.

Can you reduce the waste and packaging?

When your display is manufactured, it will be constructed using a sheet material. Whether its acrylic, cardboard or steel, your display will be created using the required amount to make your concept a reality. But what happens to the waste material that you don’t need?

Of course, your manufacturer is ultimately responsible for how they recycle waste materials, but working with them during the planning process might lead to waste being repurposed into something else, like packaging.

Packaging is a very important consideration when planning for sustainable retail displays. A top tip would be to work with a manufacturer who can create bespoke cartons for your displays. Bespoke cartons or custom made cardboard packages will save on overall packaging material and also cost.


Can the display be reused or repurposed?

Reusing or repurposing a display can play a huge part in making your displays more sustainable. When planning your display, consider whether you could use it for future campaigns and what you would need to do in order for it to be suitable.

Can parts be reused? Interchangeable graphics, shelves and screens etc.

When planning to reuse your display for other purposes in-store, it’s super important to make sure that you plan for every eventuality that might occur. For example, do you need the shelves to hold heavier stock? Are the shelves deep enough or tall enough to hold other products?

Interchangeable graphics and branding are also really important things to consider, as you’ll want to be able to easily switch your in-store retail campaign from Christmas to Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day to Easter.

Can you dismantle the display for reuse?

If you’re planning a reusable retail display but don’t want your display in-store all the time, consider whether you can dismantle and store the display easily. Can it be flattened? Can it be stacked?


Can the product be repaired?

As your display is going into a live retail environment, it is important to consider that your display may be knocked or scaped by swinging baskets and unruly trollies. If this does happen to your display, think about whether it can be easily repaired?

Can it be repaired cost-effectively?

If you’re planning to have replaceable components to fix a display should it get damaged, it’s important to consider what is the cost associated with the repair.

From a sustainability perspective, consider what is required for the process of fixing your display too. It’s important to weigh up the price you pay between monetary cost and damage to the environment when making repairs to displays in stores that could potentially be all over the country.

Can component display parts be replaced?

Maybe you can plan some replacement components that you can call-on should you need to. This can often be managed by your manufacturer or distribution partner, who will happily send out replacement parts when needed.

If you do plan for component parts, particular attention should be paid to ensure that you only product what you think you might need to save on waste.


Can you use recycled/sustainable materials?

Earlier in this article we mentioned that there are a huge number of environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional display materials. Your manufacturer will be able to recommend and advise on these alternatives and help you to decide if there is a ‘green’ product that fits the bill.

Top tip: Make sure you ask questions at every stage. Challenging your partners will ensure that everyone has sustainability at the front of their minds throughout the process.

Can you use materials that can be recycled after use?

Question each material that you plan to use to create your display, there may be a way to recycle it that you didn’t know about. Google could be your friend here, as there may be other options available to you when it comes to recycling.

Another tip is to ask your manufacturer if they can help with recycling after use. They may have relationships in place with recycling and waste organisations who can take care of it for you.

Can you design a product that is easily recyclable?

With sustainability being such a hot topic, it’s entirely possible to design a retail display with recyclability being the most important factor. Retail designers are more aware of what can and can’t be recycled, so make sure you include this in your brief at the beginning of the planning process, they’re not mind readers after all.


Can you give back to the environment to reduce your display’s carbon footprint?

From planting trees to operating as a completely carbon neutral company, there are many ways in which you can give back to the environment and reduce your carbon footprint.

You may already have initiatives in place in your organisation with the aim of operating more sustainably, make sure you communicate these throughout the process and ask if you can get involved in what other organisations are doing. You might even be able to get your hands dirt and plant some trees!

Can you partner with a supplier that has the same environmental values?

In the retail display industry, sustainability is a topic that most reputable suppliers are talking about. But when it comes down to it, look closer at whether suppliers are actually practicing what they preach. The proof is in the pudding, so they say!

There are a number of environmental certifications out there that can be taken as evidence that a company is undertaking sustainability initiatives. They’ll also have sustainability policies in place and be taking positive actions towards a greener future.

Ready to speak to a Retail Design Specialist with a focus on Sustainability?

We’d be happy to help! Our retail design specialists are ready to help you create a retail display that delivers to your objectives and remains within budget.

Want to see what we can do? Take a look at our portfolio

Please contact our sales team on 01530 839777 or email info@threepd.co.uk

Return to Learning Centre