Discover more from Following the Footprints
🌱 Closing the (golden) loop: Monica Vinader's 'Product Passports', and our recap of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Summit's Evening Showcase.
Featuring Flawsome!, Solar Foods, ONE Essentials, Nudea and more...
This week we cover:
Quick Take: Events in Review: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation Summit’s ‘Evening Showcase 2023’
Brand Spotlight: Monica Vinader: Forging a circular, and golden, supply chain.
In case you missed it: 🌱 ONE Essentials are designing for circularity - here are 10 resources to help your brand do the same, featuring Nudea, Dame, Finisterre, Jude's and more...
> Good News Last Week
🎯 Flawsome! (a ‘carbon positive’ and wonky fruit & vegetables drink brand) and Re:Water (water in refillable and reusable 100% recycled aluminium) are now available across National Trust for Scotland, as part of their ethical and sustainable food and drink at their outlets.
🎯 Solar Foods, a Finnish food tech company, launched the first gelato made from ingredients derived from air. This launch marks the first time that a food made without photosynthesis and agriculture, removing animals from the gelato equation.
⭐️ Tony’s Chocolonely announced that Huel and Pleese are joining their Tony’s Open Chain as Mission Allies, the first and second UK companies to join their mission of 100% slave free chocolate. This partnership enables more cocoa farmers to earn a living income.
⭐️ Marks and Spencer announced that they are changing their use-by dates to best-before dates, encouraging their customers to save money and cut waste by giving them more time to consume the milk they buy.
⭐️ Decathlon UK launched ‘Festival Tent Pledge’ to reward customers for not leaving their tent behind. People can return tents to store and receive all their money back in the form of gift card to prolong lifespan of tents.
⭐️ Ben & Jerry’s announced a new flavour to their collection, the Sunny Honey Home, which is a collaboration with TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network) to bring the tastes and cultures from Morocco, Afghanistan and Syria.
⭐️ PANGAIA announced that they are working with Coral Gardeners to bring reef restoration to scale, by donating a part of their proceeds from all purchases made this summer.
⚡ UKFT announced that they are working on a two-year project that supports the transition of uneconomic manual sorting of textiles that are not suitable for resale to a highly-automated sorting process. They are working with Autosort for Circular Textiles Demonstrator (ACT UK) and bringing together consortium of recycling technologies, academia, manufacturers, brands/retailers with funding from Innovate UK.
> Click on each link to read more.
> Quick Take
Events in Review: The Ellen MacArthur Foundation Summit’s ‘Evening Showcase 2023’
Earlier this week the Ellen MacArthur Foundation hosted their most high profile event of the year: the Summit - and this was their first ever evening showcase. The event highlighted some of the ‘best in class’ examples of the circular economy in action. Inspirational displays from brands such as Rubies in the Rubble, Hodmedod’s, ACS clothing, Vestiaire Collective, Unilever, Holcim, and IDEO, brought home the message that circular economy is happening now and we can all play our part in driving the transformation.
What is the Ellen MacArthur Foundation?
A charity committed to creating a circular economy, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation develop and promote the idea of a circular economy through original research, focusing on eliminating waste and pollution, circulating products and materials, and regenerating nature - all of which was brought to life at the showcase. Founded in 2010, are a global organisation that works with businesses, academia, policy makers, and institutions to mobilise systems solutions at scale. You can learn more about their work through the years here.
What was on offer at the Summit?
The evening was packed with speakers from various organisations imparting their wisdom on how they are adopting the principles of the circular economy. From Hodmedod’s explaining how they use diverse ingredients to help regenerate nature, to Unilever demonstrating how they create products which follow a refill model.
The Summit also had various displays on how the circular economy is in action across different industries including food, fashion and the built environment. There were also a number of interactive activations. You could take a ‘number’ for an anonymous helpline to support the shift to waste-free living. You could also have your say on ‘What is holding you back from increasing impact within your organisation?’ by placing a pebble into the relevant jar related to your answer. It was great to see the jars fill and realise that many organisations are all facing similar challenges.
Our key learnings? We’re glad you asked…
There was a lot to take away from the evening, however, here are our three key learnings for your organisation:
Across the various speakers, one thing that kept coming up was the importance of collaboration. This could be collaborating with internal teams, with suppliers across your organisation’s value chain or partnering with other brands. Moving towards a circular system can be challenging, and when we work together the results can be far greater.
The way we design our business models or products can have a large impact on the planet, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Alternatively, we can use design to embed circularity. For example, designing food products to have less impact on the planet, such as Rubies in the Rubble using surplus ingredients like aquafaba (chickpea water) to make their mayonnaise, or creating a business model that embody circularity, like second-hand fashion organisations such as ACS or Vestiaire Collective.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach
Where you operate as a business the product you sell or the industry you operate in can all impact how your organisation embodies the circular economy. Unilever gave examples of how different circular product formats worked better in some regions than others. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches to see what works for your business and customers.
Seeing, interacting with and listening to companies which have already started to put the circular economy into action made for an inspirational evening. You couldn’t help but come away with the feeling that not only is positive change on the horizon, but we can all play an active part in the transition to a more circular economy. Keen to learn more? Watch a recording of the Summit here.
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> Brand Spotlight
Monica Vinader: Forging a circular, and golden, supply chain.
Metal mining, particularly gold mining, produces harmful waste, causes the displacement of communities, and pollutes ecosystems. As an illustration, a single gold ring can produce a staggering 20 tonnes of waste. The impacts of mining are long-lasting, with abandoned mines still leaching harmful waste into waterways. Although recycled gold still requires chemicals for processing, it produces a fraction of the carbon emissions when compared to mined gold (53 kgCO2e per kg compared to 16,000 kgCO2e per kg, to be exact). Half of mined gold is used in jewellery, so to address this problem jewellery brands are being forced to turn to alternative metal sources instead.
One brand tackling this is Monica Vinader. Established in 2008, the innovative Norfolk-based business follows the philosophy of transparency, traceability and circularity. Let’s dig into how they do it…
On a mission to mine for more
Transparency and traceability are achieved through their blockchain-enabled Product Passports, which allow consumers to trace the workmanship of their jewellery piece from its design and metal origin to its craftsmanship, quality control, and shipping. Currently 50 of their bestselling pieces have Product Passports, with more to come soon. These Product Passports are a first of their kind for the industry, pioneering new standards for ethical and sustainable jewellery production. They are now also trying to trace their gemstones to ensure they are sourced from conflict-free areas and mines with the proper due diligence for human rights and environmental performance. Their roadmap (see the full thing here) aims to have 45% of their gemstones be mine-to-market traceable by the end of 2023, and they’re working with the Ennovie, the world’s first net zero jewellery manufacturer, to achieve this.
Their metal refineries in Italy (Umicore) and Thailand (Chimet) recover metals from industrial and electronic waste, as well as old jewellery. Transparency is further achieved by providing information on each of their nine jewellery manufacturers listed on their website, including the number of employees, working hours, employee benefits, and sustainability and social compliance credentials. To ensure supplier social compliance, their suppliers are audited annually by Intertek to uphold standards for health and safety conditions, fair wages, and environmental conditions.
Making the (gold) chain circular
The final pillar - circularity - is achieved through their recycling scheme, which allows customers to send in any silver or gold jewellery, regardless of brand, in exchange for a £20 voucher. This scheme helps keep recycled metals in their system to be used for future pieces. According to their 2022 Sustainability Report, an admirable 2500 pieces of jewellery have been recycled so far.
The brand’s work hasn’t gone unnoticed, receiving accolades from Marie Claire and Retailer Jeweller for the best sustainable luxury jewellery brand and ethical jeweller of the year, respectively. With an unwavering focus on quality, traceability, 100% recyclable packaging and cutting-edge partnerships - we’re hardly surprised.
Take a closer look at Monica Vinader:
> In case you missed it
🌱 ONE Essentials are designing for circularity - here are 10 resources to help your brand do the same.
Featuring Nudea, Dame, Finisterre, Jude's and more...
> Follow up with…
Article: The Circular Business Model
Podcast: Outrage and Optimism
Website: Circular Startup Index