Retailers are “leading the way in improving resource efficiency while reducing environmental impact”, according to a British Retail Consortium (BRC) report.

The BRC’s A better retailing climate: Towards sustainable retail report found that retailers have beaten their waste reduction target, already achieving the commitment to send less than 15% of waste to landfill by 2013 and they have reduced transport emissions by 23%, smashing the 2013 15% reduction target.

Store groups are also on track to cut energy-related emissions from buildings by a quarter by 2013, compared with 2005 levels. By 2011, emissions had been cut by 20%. Refrigeration emissions have reduced by 37%, set to meet a 50% decrease by 2013.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: “”Government support is crucial for business to make this change.”

The news comes as Northern Ireland reveals that a 5p plastic bag tax will be imposed next year, to restrict bag waste from retailers. The 5p charge will rise to 10p by April 2014.

But retailers are behind the 5% target to reduce waste in the grocery supply chain and packaging, achieving just a 0.4% decrease in 2009/10.

Environment minister Caroline Spelman said retailers must do more work to help customers become more environmentally friendly, through direct messages and labelling as well as through changes to retail business models “to use fewer environmental resources while retaining profitability and customer service”.