🌱 Trick or Treat? The Green Claims Code and Bantu Chocolate.
Featuring Bantu Chocolate, Abel & Cole, Ekonoke, King Arthur and more...
This week we cover:
Quick Take: Know about the Green Claims Code? Let’s Decipher It.
Brand Spotlight: Decommodifying Chocolate: Bantu Chocolate’s 3 pillars for a sustainable cocoa supply chain.
In case you missed it: 🌱 How Conscious Is Your Chocolate?
> Good News Last Week
🎯 Abel & Cole announced the removal of compostable packaging from their core fruit & vegetable boxes by the end of 2023. Citing research by the University College London, Abel & Cole highlighted the inconsistency across local authorities and home compost heaps for the conditions needed for the packaging to break down. Instead the brand intends to focus on reducing and recycling packaging, extending their Club Zero refillables range and Plastic Pick-Up scheme.
🎯 Ekonoke closed a €4.2 million investment with Cosecha de Galicia. The investment will support the Spanish start-up’s sustainable beer production through hydroponically growing hops indoors for better climate resilience for a crop threatened by global warming.
🎯 King Arthur released their sustainability goals for 2030, with aims to grow 100% of the flour in its bags from regeneratively grown wheat and their facilities to be gro
🎯 Quorn partnered with Compass Group to pilot regenerative agriculture practices and turn a 92-acre farm in Yorkshire into a “biological platform of social and ecological activity.” Supported by RegenFarmCo, Compass group will communicate the learnings to their wider supply chain.
⭐️ Apple updated their latest iOS 16.1 software to include Clean Energy Charging. The feature allows users in the United States to selectively charge their devices using lower carbon-emission electricity when it is available. iPhones will get a forecast of the local carbon emissions in the grid and charge the iPhone during times of cleaner energy production.
⭐️ ASDA switched their to own-brand tea bags to compostable and plant-based materials made from corn-starch. The move will see 550 million tea bags a year made suitable for kerbside recycling.
⭐️ Mondelez International announced their additional investment of $600m for their Cocoa Life programme, to support 300,000 farmers by 2030 and address environmental and social challenges.
⭐️ Walmart purchased 250,000 megawatt hours of power under their renewable energy acceleration for their suppliers. The Gigaton PPA took 2 years of education and negotiation for their first aggregated power purchase agreement. With energy purchased from Orsted Sunflower Wind Farm for suppliers including Levi Strauss, Amy’s Kitchen and Great Lakes Cheese.
⚡️ Carbon Direct hired their first Head of Climate Justice. Christian Braneon will ensure that Carbon Direct’s software and services are both scientifically rigorous and equitable.
⚡️ The Alliance for Beverage Cartons and the Environment (ACE) announced their commitment to to developing the Design for Recycling (DfR) Guidelines that provide producers of beverage cartons with technical guidance for existing recycling compatibility. The annual review aims to optimise the recyclability of beverage cartons.
⚡️ Hubbub launched the ‘Time After Time E-East Fund with Virgin Media O2. The £500,000 fund will support pioneering electronic waste initiatives with grants of between £10,000 - 75,000.
> Click on each link to read more.
> Quick Take
Know about the Green Claims Code? Let’s Decipher It.
The Green Claims Code is a UK Government publication. Issued in September last year, It’s designed to act as a set of guidelines detailing criteria that businesses must meet to claim an aspect of their operations as ‘green’. The goal? To act against greenwashing. It’s important to distinguish the Green Claims Code from legal regulation. All businesses are obliged to follow consumer protection law and marketing standards, enforced by bodies such as the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) and Trading Standards. Where these standards are enforced by law, The Green Claims Code is designed to “help businesses understand and comply with their existing obligations”.
Why does the Green Claims Code exist?
Shockingly, a study coordinated by the CMA found that an enormous 40% of green claims made by businesses online could be misleading consumers. This isn’t to say that businesses are purposefully misleading customers, nor does it mean companies should avoid advertising their environmental credentials. It just means that businesses need to be aware of what they present to customers, and how they present it. So, let’s decipher the code.
What counts as a ‘green claim’?
As a broad definition, a ‘green claim’ is simply one that suggests a product, service, brand or business provides a benefit or is less harmful to the environment. More specifically, a ‘green’ claim is one that promotes your product to be one that:
Has a positive or neutral environmental impact
Is less damaging to the environment than a previous version of the same good or service
Is less damaging to the environment than competing goods or services.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK’s independent regulator for commercial advertising, is the go-to for businesses to understand what’s kosher in promotional content. The ASA have released helpful guidance specifically to complement the Greens Claim Code, including guides for ‘general green claims’ and even those specifically related to recyclability.
There are six principles to follow:
The Code is broken down into six essential principles that businesses should follow when making a green claim:
Claims must be truthful and accurate - Claims should be not just factually correct, but truthful. According to the CMA, a technically correct claim can be misleading if it’s presented in a way to suggest something that isn’t.
Claims must be clear and unambiguous
Claims must not omit or hide important relevant information - This targets the concept of dishonesty through omission.
Comparisons must be fair and meaningful - Any direct comparisons should derive from objective, verifiable and up-to-date information.
Claims must consider the full life cycle of the product or service - This relates to specificity: each claim’s scope doesn’t need to be cradle-to-grave but should be specific to a particular point in a product’s life cycle. Make a claim about one aspect of your product, not the product in its entirety.
Claims must be substantiated - It’s vital to back claims up with data and scientific evidence. Drinks brand Oatly, for example, were forced to withdraw adverts that made unsubstantiated claims about the relative environmental impact of their product.
Why is this a fundamentally good thing for businesses?
The Green Claims Code can be used positively by businesses to make the most of their environmental credentials. The FT recently reported a phenomenon dubbed ‘green hushing’: a reluctance to publicise climate targets and initiatives to avoid the spike in accusations of greenwashing (see examples). Of the 1200 companies studied, nearly a quarter stated that they would not publicise details of science-based climate targets. For the thousands of businesses working hard to reduce their environmental impact the Greens Claim Code provides a litmus test for the accuracy of claims, which could boost their confidence to shout about their efforts. Hopefully, it also boosts customer confidence in their legitimacy too.
Given that brand transparency is important to 90% of consumers, publicising environmental credentials in a way that avoids overclaiming, being ambiguous, being unsubstantiated (and more) can be important for any brand keen to gain consumers' trust.
Where to go next:
The most important thing for brands to do is to learn about the code, and how to abide by it too. To help you to stick to the code, these are the best places to look:
The CMA’s 13-point checklist allows businesses to check a claim’s compliance with the Green Claims Code.
The CMA's information sheet aims to help businesses better understand how competition law applies to sustainability agreements.
Trading Standards’ Business Hub is a great resource for businesses to understand current advertising standards.
Check out products such as eco-labelling and QR coding to link up environmental claims with supporting data. There are lots of potential partners to work with on this - Reewild is one example.
> Brand Spotlight
Decommodifying Chocolate: Bantu Chocolate’s 3 pillars for a sustainable cocoa supply chain.
The legacy of capitalism and exploitation in Western Africa go hand in hand. For centuries, large scale corporations have concentrated on commodification of cocoa - with the sole aim of achieving as much profit from the crop as possible. This has resulted in only 2% of the $100 billion chocolate market revenue being actually received by the African continent itself. West Africa generates more than 70% of this cocoa, however, the exploitation of farmers sees the average cocoa farming family member living off just 74p a day - below the extreme poverty line.
Bantu Chocolate looks to change this; while the cocoa monopolies (Mars, Mondelez, Cadbury & Nestle) purchase cocoa beans from farmers at an unfair price, Bantu grows their own with full transparency from bean to bar. It’s not just in their bars, it’s in their origin too. The Bantu People were farmers and cattle keepers in modern day Cameroon. Today, Bantu Chocolate is staying true to these roots. In 2016 they started their first farm, based in Yaounde in Cameroon on land passed through generations and inherited by Bantu founder Veronique Mbida’s mother. Here, they value the environment and people alongside profit - upholding slave-free and fairly paid workers.
Bantu’s 3 pillars for decommodifying cocoa:
Bantu views certifications like Fair Trade, UTZ and the Rainforest Alliance as primarily a marketing tool for larger corporations to be viewed favourably by the consumer. Instead, they’ve chosen to focus on paying a living wage that is 6x more than the commodity price and 3x more than the Fairtrade price. How have they calculated this? Via the Anker Living Income, which is a methodology for estimating living wages (at an international level) that can provide a decent and comfortable livelihood. Bantu acknowledges that this includes food, water, housing, health care and provision for unexpected events. Therefore, with the mission to “level the playing field”, Bantu is working with farmers (and paying them well enough) so that they can retain as much value from their harvests as they can. You can see the ‘true cost’ of each bar of chocolate on Bantu’s product pages:
Favouring traditional farming techniques, Bantu aims to preserve the land’s vitality for future generations. Focusing on supporting regenerative farming methods, they treat the land holistically to improve the soil health and enhance biodiversity. How? Alongside the cocoa plants, Bantu farmers incorporate livestock and grow bananas, avocados and plantains. They also focus on; controlled pesticides, crop rotation, encouraging a diverse ecosystem around the fields, efficiently using local water sources and selecting crops that will both grow well and have great taste. Staying true to their goals of local economic empowerment, they’ve even moved the manufacturing of their chocolate bars to Cameroon.
As traditional growing practices have been eroded by industrial players in communities across West Africa, so has the culture that underpins them. Food is one of the most powerful connectors and Bantu aims to be part of building a food system that is nourishing for everyone - using connection for systemic change. So, Bantu is hoping that consumers can connect to the growers of the Bantu chocolate bars that they eat. How? Sharing their journeys, learning about farming practices and putting the stories of their farmers at the centre of their brand. Bantu’s supportive relationship with the community in Cameroon aims to facilitate cultural enrichment, in a shift away from exploitative practices towards a system that values the natural environment and people equally. Empowering the communities through employment and education means they can be more resilient and have increased autonomy. Having moved away from Fairtrade, the farming communities can choose how they spend their wages and how they solve their own problems.
Staying accountable to their three pillars, Bantu is aiming for total systems change, bean by bean.
Support Bantu Chocolate via their shop:
> In case you missed it
🌱 How Conscious Is Your Chocolate?
Featuring Montezuma's, Koa, Lindt & Sprüngli and more...
> Follow up with…
Article: Ethics in the Chocolate Industry
Podcast: Forces for Good Podcast (B Lab)
Finally… how informative did you find today’s newsletter?
Thanks for reading Following the Footprints! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.