The supermarket multiples have made the headlines over the past few months with a number of green initiatives that are being developed, but smaller retailers believe they too have a role to play in helping the environment, and many are doing their bit.

According to a telephone survey conducted by The Grocer, 50% of independent retailers say they are trying to help the environment.

They are doing this either by cutting down on food miles, encouraging the recycling of plastic bags or using energy-saving lightbulbs and equipment.

"Small retailers should be making green changes," says one retailer. "If everyone did their bit, however small the change, it would soon add up."

There is still scope for more green activity. Only 35% of retailers say they encourage plastic bag recycling, either by launching reusable bags or by only giving bags out when their customers ask for them.

A number of retailers are about to launch 'bags for life' because of consumer demand and because of the huge success of bags such as Anya Hindmarch's cotton carrier, which has been taken on by Sainsbury's.

Not all retailers are concerned with implementing green initiatives, however.

A number say that the majority of their customers simply do not consider the environment when they come in for a bag of crisps or a newspaper.

"The supermarkets are doing a lot but it is more hype than anything else," says one. "Our customers couldn't care less about bag recycling."

Another says that because many purchases are made on impulse customers don't have a bag with them.

The vast majority of retailers believe manufacturers use too much packaging for their products, although many also recognise the need for proper packaging.

"There is a hell of a lot of unnecessary packaging in the food and drink industry," says one retailer, "But it depends on how it is handled in transit, how the product is used once it has been taken home and so on," adds another. "It is not an easy question to answer."

We should expect to see more green moves from retailers in the future. Sixty per cent say they intend to do more to help the environment.

"The company is planning to go more down the environmentally friendly route," according to one retailer, a position that is shared by many others.