Sustainability will be mainstream by 2020, according to a report by Sainsbury’s, Unilever and Forum for the Future.

Consumer Futures 2020 puts forward a number of scenarios exploring how global trends may change shoppers’ behaviour and the consumer goods industry over the next decade.

Likely trends identified include mainstream consumers buying locally and strengthening their local economies; brands and businesses helping consumers choose sustainable options, driven by resource scarcity and a global deal on climate change; and communities are strengthened by local food and energy production.

“Smart brands and businesses will make money today by accelerating the transition to a sustainable future,” said Dr Sally Uren, deputy chief executive of Forum for the Future.

“They need to make it easy for consumers to go green by offering products and services that are not just better for the environment but healthier, cheaper and longer-lasting.”

Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King, said: “Being a sustainable company is not about box-ticking, it’s about future-proofing your business and building trust and brand loyalty that will last for years to come.”

The retailer launches its own sustainability plan tomorrow.

Unilever UK boss Amanda Sourry added: “Companies that succeed in the future will be those that reduce their environmental impact while increasing their social and economic impacts.”

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Mars targets ‘absolute’ reduction of emissions (24 September 2011)