Trend Accelerator Corona III: Sustainability


Sustainability: the dictate of the moment or no longer in keeping with the times? We asked Michaela Drage, Engineering Director umdasch The Store Makers, about its relevance for the retail sector.

Ms Drage, nowadays we produce vast amounts of refuse. Is the subject of sustainability still relevant for the retail sector?

The subject of sustainability is very definitely still relevant. What is more: the corona crisis has contributed to the fact that the situation is becoming even more acute. You need only think of the numerous pictures you can now see showing additional refuse in the form of disposable masks, protective gloves and bottles of disinfectant floating in the ocean. There is a risk that all the refuse will destroy entire continents with regard to both the animal world and our human environment. We at umdasch therefore see it as our continued responsibility as Store Makers to focus our attention on product development at the POS which will lead to a reduction in and/or avoidance of waste.

Are green companies surviving the crisis better?

At the beginning the covid-19 pandemic catapulted many consumers quite literally into a shock situation – to which they reacted in different ways. On the one hand a strong change in awareness could be observed, leading to regional purchasing via a wide variety of channels, such as online, offline and home delivery. And on the other it resulted in (panic) buying of mainly packaged products in the food markets. Life has now gathered speed in a new way and with a changed attitude towards each other. This has resulted in a return to environmental awareness and the need for change to which each and every one of us must contribute – also in the retail sector.

The Liquid Dispenser from umdasch enables the avoidance of plastic waste through refilling. Here at Sainsbury's in UK. Photo: Sainsbury's

Where do you see the new aspects and challenges for more sustainable store design?

Today it is more than just a question of successful sales per square metre. We at umdasch as Store Makers see our task as lying in the successful design of “experience per cubic metre” within the retail sector – and that requires a wide range of aspects. Sustainable stores begin with the planning and conception and continue through product development in a cradle-to-cradle approach of systematic recycling management, with the sustainable use of resources in the form of materials, a regional production and installation and even the re-use of shopfitting elements over decades.
Of course, all that offers potential with regard to digitalisation. The catch phase there is contactless shopping; we pursue these paths together with our customers and cover them optimally as complete suppliers in the fields of design, shopfitting and digital solutions. The challenge is, of course, the increased cost-awareness – a high-quality and sustainable use of materials and its regional added value and processing within Europe has its price. By using our umdasch CO2 calculator we can demonstrate clearly how many tonnes of CO2 can be saved through local production.

Sustainable store design must follow a holistic planning approach – as presented by umdasch at EuroShop 2020.

Which special products does umdasch offer here?

Our GreenShelf was developed with the aim of producing the shelf with the best CO2 footprint. For the shelving system we therefore used innovative, biological material solutions with high aesthetic demands. Whether you choose jute, linen, wooden meshwork and laminated panels of recycled paper or organic plastic plates, clay boards and planted walls – you can set highly creative accents with these alternative materials. Special three-ply panels of indigenous spruce like those frequently used by our associate company DOKA are suitable for the shelves. 

Moreover, we not only aim to provide retailers with sustainable alternatives; we also want to offer consumers the opportunity of packaging-free shopping. Maximal hygiene is the be-all and end-all at the moment. You can see one result of our development work for the POS in the Liquid Dispenser refilling system, which permits a hassle-free re-use of containers, for example for products like liquid detergents. And the Solid Dispenser” allows the clean refilling of products in the dry-goods range.

The Solid Dispenser enables the carefree filling of products in the dry assortment.

And we also offer environmentally-friendly services, such as for example our refurbishment concept “umdasch refresh your shelf”. In this complete package shelves are cleaned, re-coated, re-assembled or in some cases replaced by new elements – but the basic structure remains the same.

Have other services, such as store design, also been affected by the coronavirus pandemic? In which ways have there been changes in designers approach to the conception and planning of new shops? Next week we shall be addressing these questions in the fourth and for the time being the final part of our information series Trend Accelerator Corona. Stay tuned, stay healthy, stay alert!



In our series “Trend Accelerator Corona” we show the influence which the developments of recent months will have in the long term on a variety of aspects of the retail sector. In the previous contributions to the series Silvio Kirchmair, CEO umdasch The Store Makers, explained the New Normality and Bernd Albl, Managing Director umdasch Digital Retail, spoke about the significance of Digital Retail.

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