🌱 Packaging and People Power: 2023's FMCG Legal Pipeline Part 3, and we catch up with Rebecca Ghim of The Ferm.
Featuring The Ferm, Honestly Tasty, Wild and more...
This week we cover:
Quick Take: FMCG’s Legal Pipeline in 2023: Part 3 - Packaging.
Brand Spotlight: The Ferm: Rebecca Ghim is building a brand that is more than the sum of its parts.
In case you missed it: 🌱 Impact: BEEN London have it in the bag, but are you ready to report on it? 2023's Legal Pipeline Pt. 2.
> Good News Last Week
🎯 Good on You partnered with Shaftesbury retail property to help existing tenants and select future tenants for their retail spaces in London’s West End, including Carnaby, Seven Dials & Chinatown. Good on You will provide tools and information to support improvement to sustainability ratings and a platform to profile tenants’ practices to consumers.
🎯 Honestly Tasty partnered with My Emission to add carbon ratings to their cheese labels. Finding that their plant based Blue has 58% lower carbon footprint that its dairy equivalent, giving it a B carbon rating.
🎯 Wild certified as B Corp, joining the community with a score of 110.8!
⭐️ Too Good To Go announced carrefour as their first partner to save 10 million meals across 5 European countries. The collaboration has achieved 25,000 tonnes of CO2e from being wasted.
⭐️ Compass Group announced a 36% absolute emission reduction from animal proteins in the last 18 months, equating to an estimated reduction of 83,388 tonnes of CO2e. Animal proteins were identified as a “carbon hotspot” in their supply chain and the achievement has contributed to their overall scope 3 value chain emissions reducing by 20% against their 2019 baseline.
⭐️ L’Oreal partnered with Net-Zero Now to develop the Net-Zero Salons Programme. Helping to calculate, track and reduce emissions by setting carbon reduction plans, the initiative aims to see salons achieve net-zero status.
⭐️ Aldi joined too Good To Go to provide surplus food at a discounted price through the app at a “pivotal time for reducing food waste”. The partnership will help Aldi achieve their commitment of reducing food waste by 50% by 2030.
⚡️ Shopify found that consumer interest in green products remains robust despite inflation and other economic pressures, with nearly two-thirds of consumers refusing to skimp on sustainability despite cost of living pressures.
⚡️ The beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable (BIER) developed a handbook to help beverage companies embed water circularity as part of their water strategy. The Water Circularity Good Practices Guide addresses the emerging need for an easy-to-follow process that also incorporates important .considerations to ensure long-term success.
⚡️ The European Commission presented a new EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles to tackle findings by The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, who reported that 4-6% of the EU’s overall environmental footprint can be traced back to textiles. Under the strategy, textiles placed on the European market would need to last longer and be easier to repair, with a focus on improving design at the manufacturing stage.
> Click on each link to read more.
> Quick Take
We go again: FMCG’s Legal Pipeline in 2023: Part 3 - Packaging.
We just KNOW you cannot get enough of legal compliance, and apparently neither can those setting the goals - just last week the UK Government announced their plans to join with the likes of Scotland, Germany and Sweden in a deposit return scheme. Whilst this is a great step forward for ensuring affected companies up their ESG game, we know far too well how daunting it can be for those tasked with getting their businesses there - check out Emma Foster-Geering’s reflection here.
Fear not, this is EXACTLY what we’re here to help with.
Our core vision at Following the Footprints is to make it easier than ever for consumer goods brands to better understand the steps they need to take to reduce their environmental impact.
We’ve started this year with a whistle stop update on Annual Reporting. We then covered Impact Reporting, Corporate Volunteering and we even threw in a juicy bonus on how to really engage every employee on the sustainability journey too (who said Jan was a slow month?). Now we’re going into February with a bang as we aim to debunk some of the biggest packaging legislation* in 2023.
* quick caveat here from us. We’re not legal experts, we just work for FMCG brands and have a real passion for this sort of thing. This guide is not exhaustive, focusses on the UK only and may become outdated as regulations change. Please refer to government advice and seek professional support if needed.
1. Packaging Compliance - Producer Responsibility Obligations
What is it?
The Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007 were introduced with the aim of reducing the amount of packaging which ended up in landfill. Companies who own and perform a relevant activity on the packaging they handle are required to comply with the Regulations if they meet the thresholds.
Who has to comply?
The Packaging Waste Regulations obligate companies (or a group of companies) who;
Have a turnover of over £2 million
Handle over 50 tonnes of packaging per year
For a group of companies, these thresholds are combined totals.
What are the requirements?
And they require businesses to:
Minimise the amount of packaging they put on to the market
Redesign the packaging so that it is less harmful to the environment
Encourage the amount of packaging potentially being recovered reused and recycled so that the packaging flow ultimately becomes more sustainable
In the UK, an obligated producer has to join a Producer Compliance Scheme (PCS), or register directly with the Environment Agency. Once registered, a packaging producer has to fund the recycling and recovery of packaging material set at a level determined by the data they submit on packaging handled and the UK recycling rates.
2. Plastic Packaging Tax
What is it?
The Plastic Packaging Tax is a tax applied to businesses that use a significant volume of plastic in their packaging, as part of the movement to promote the use of non-virgin material.
Who has to comply?
Businesses that have manufactured or imported 10 tonnes or more of finished plastic packaging components into the UK, will have to comply with this regulation. This is over a space of 12 months, but businesses have to send the tax return on plastic packaging tax four times a year.
What are the requirements?
Businesses that are liable for this tax will have to report on total plastic packaging and pay a tax of £200/tonne (on everything less than 30% recycled) - this includes almost all* packaging in the supply chain, both up and downstream.
*The government has a list of what is included and exempt here. This is part of the wider EPR scheme and the full guidance from the UK Gov can be found here.
3. Extended Producer Responsibility
What is it?
The Packaging EPR is a policy tool whereby producers are made significantly responsible for the packaging they place on the market at the end of its life. The overall purpose is to ensure long term planning and investment into sustainable material use and recycling infrastructure, and to fulfil the ‘polluter pays principle (PPP)’.
Who has to comply?
Any producer of packaging, including importing, will be impacted by EPR. Building from PRO requirements, producers with more than £1 million annual turnover and who handle over 25 tonnes of packaging will now have reporting-only obligations, and those who add 50 tonnes onto the market and have £2 million turnover will have to pay.
What are the requirements?
This is where this gets a bit messy, and we recommend reading our deep dive for more info. At the moment, to comply with this:
Businesses follow the requirements in the PRO,
Data collection requirements for all will come into force this year (2023; this ties in with the plastic packaging tax and,
Producers will start paying additional costs to local authorities for the collection, recycling and disposal of packaging from households and public bins via modulated fees in 2024.
We’ve done some deeper diving onto the PRO and EPR in our previous quick looks and if you want to know more, let us know!
> Brand Spotlight
The Ferm: Rebecca Ghim is building a brand that is more than the sum of its parts.
Fermented foods have seen an astonishing rise in popularity over the last decade. With numerous health benefits, an increasingly multicultural food scene and (usually) delicious products, fermented foods are booming in popularity. There’s little sign of slowing down, with searches on Ocado rising an amazing 160% in a week, only this month. What makes fermented food specialists The Ferm so special? Its systemic vision of fermented foods: rooted in cultural context, the exemplar of how to create a genuinely circular, waste-free, healthy and joyful food scene.
The Ferm, established in 2021, is just getting started. With Young Innovator Award winner Rebecca Ghim as its founder, there’s every indication that this is a business to watch. We caught up with Rebecca to get an insight into the practicalities of establishing a brand: the challenges, the successes, the pride.
Building a supply chain: the challenges of circularity
When you’re just starting out, it’s crucial to build a network - especially when, like Rebecca, your entire supply chain depends on personal connections. The Ferm is committed to tackling systemic food waste, and Rebecca’s range of fermented products, including kimchi, is made from commonly-discarded items such as beetroot and cauliflower leaves. To source these by-products, Rebecca connects with farmers, manufacturers and restaurants (including a trial with OXO Tower Restaurant London).
How does she identify potential partners? Rebecca highlights the importance of good old-fashioned networking:
“I go to networking events, then meet with them to follow up. They can often introduce me to relevant connections after the meeting. I’ve learned it’s alright to be quite assertive when following up with people. Going to farmers' markets and speaking directly to vendors also has worked well for me.”
Simple, however, doesn’t mean ‘easy’. This is particularly the case when a business is attempting to be a link in a circular chain, rather than a linear one. The Ferm’s vision is to participate in (and help to create) a circular economy within the UK food system. The concept of a circular economy, applied to any industry, is essentially a low-waste, regenerative economy. When it comes to food, this means targeting the >3 million tonnes edible food waste generated by the UK food industry per year.
So, what’s getting in the way of more food brands going in this direction? Rebecca points to a simple difficulty of capacity and resource:
“Fewer manufacturers and farmers are willing to give surplus ingredients because diverting from their already set supply chain takes a lot of internal communication, extra labour, and packaging & shipping.”
As a new brand, it can be hard to have the pulling power necessary to persuade partners of the benefits of circularity. To help with this, Rebecca partnered with sustainable food industry supply experts Tried and Supplied to identify and procure the right suppliers for her.
Understanding the market, finding community, spreading joy
The Ferm’s brand identity is the ethos inherent in its products: food can and should be healthy, delicious and endlessly sustainable. Education is key both to brand growth and to help spread this message (after all, The Ferm is an extension of Rebecca’s own ‘low-carbon lifestyle and activism’). During The Ferm’s first year, Rebecca linked up with pop-up shops and social enterprises like The Women’s Environmental Movement to host kimchi making workshops. Not only did this celebrate the benefits and joy of cooking and sharing quality food, but was a great way to build a customer base and initiate word-of-mouth marketing.
Founders often have the fire they need to start a business, but the practicalities of establishment can pose a real challenge. Rebecca highlights these everyday essentials as the things she needed most help with:
“The initial challenges were finding a kitchen, designing the website and packaging, learning food photography and recipe videos [all] myself, and learning how to keep a cash flow.”
Fortunately, there’s never been more support available for start-up sustainable ventures. The Ferm participated in the “Feeding The City” startup programme at Impact Hub King’s Cross, which helped Rebecca to solidify her business model, attend peer-to-peer workshops and get a solid grasp of the financials. That network she built up earlier? Also a great way to find practical support:
“I also approached people through my network to get all of these parts done, which I'm really quite proud of.”
Rebecca’s got lots of practical advice to give about the nuts and bolts of setting up a business. Her wisest words, though, come back to that Founder’s fire:
“Intuition can feel like excitement, curiosity, or even frustration. it’s a powerful tool to figure out what it is that you can’t stop thinking about”
With plans to expand her B2B fermentation service and gain SALSA accreditation for retail soon, we can’t wait to see The Ferm, like its products, get even better with time.
Take a closer look at The Ferm:
> In case you missed it
🌱 Impact: BEEN London have it in the bag, but are you ready to report on it? 2023's Legal Pipeline Pt. 2.
Featuring BEEN London, Seasalt, Finisterre, innocent drinks and more...
> Follow up with…
Article: Building A Great Brand: How To Embrace The Impact Brand Model
Article: UK Regulatory Outlook January 2023
Event: Packaging sustainability: key challenges in 2023 - 7th February
Report: Finding the right Refill + Reuse resources and partners for pilots