🌱 Four takeaways from The Economist's Sustainability Week, and how True Gum are tacking a sticky problem.
Featuring True Gum, Oddbox, SURREAL, Packamama and more...
This week we cover:
Quick Take: Our 4 key takeaways from the Economist Impact’s 8th Annual Sustainability Week.
Brand Spotlight: True Gum: How one brand is tackling some sticky issues.
In case you missed it: 👋 We're growing the Following the Footprints team - join us! Passionate about consumer goods x sustainability? Have a few hours per month? Jump in and join our team!
> Good News Last Week
🎯 Oddbox announced The Odd Shop, allowing customers to add extras to their boxes that would’ve otherwise gone to waste. What’s included in The Odd Shop will change each week.
🎯 Toast Ale revealed that they’ve saved over 3 million slices of surplus bread and donated over £106k to charity since 2016. They’ve also announced that their planned measures to reduce emissions will do so by 72% by 2030.
🎯 SURREAL announced they’re carbon neutral, after measuring and offsetting their footprint via ClimatePartner. Now, they’re working on reducing it too.
🎯 Packamama announced their collaboration with Vinventions, which will see Vinventions sales professionals offering Packamama’s innovative flat wine bottles to French customers.
⭐️ Planet Organic announced its listing Harvest London, a vertical farming startup, to bring living basil in-stores.
⭐️ PepsiCo announced it is investing $216M to support regenerative agriculture on over 3 million acres of US farmland. This is in partnership with three well-respected, farmer-facing organisations; Practical Farmers of Iowa, Soil and Water Outcomes Fund, and the IL Corn Growers Association, and is projected to deliver ~3 million metric tonnes of GHG emission reductions and removals by 2030.
⚡️ Last Wednesday, the EU's executive arm proposed new rules that would force manufacturers to allow customers to have broken products repaired. This is a key step in their plan to reduce the estimated 35 million tonnes of waste produced each year by throwing out ‘viable’ products like mobile phones.
⚡️ Aldi, Lidl, the Co-op, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer (M&S) signed on to the new ‘Retailer Net-Zero Collaborative Action Plan’ ahead of its launch on the 28th March. This plan is facilitated by WRAP and WWF, and aims to unify approaches and methods used to measure the carbon footprint of food and drinks - stopping different supermarkets taking different approaches to e.g. carbon accounting, despite often having the same suppliers and/or customers to serve. As part of this plan, supermarkets that have signed on will work with 17 suppliers to trial WRAP’s new measurement and protocols for measuring Scope 3 (indirect) emissions. The protocols will then be rolled out across other suppliers.
> Click on each link to read more.
Our 4 key takeaways from the Economist Impact’s 8th Annual Sustainability Week.
Last week, we were fortunate enough to bag ourselves a front row seat (in some cases, quite literally) to the Economist Impact’s 8th Annual Sustainability Week at the Business Design Centre in London.
The theme for this year’s conference was “Empowering Businesses to Accelerate Action on Sustainability” across eight key themes (see the picture below) and featured incredible speakers including António Guterres, the Secretary-general of the United Nations; Paul Polman, ex-Unilever CEO and author of Net Positive, Hannah Mills from the Great British SailGP team, Government and CMA representatives and senior leaders from across the FMCG space including McDonalds, Ocado, Innocent, Pernod Ricard, Netflix and more.
The event took place over two and a half days, and had a lot to address in a short period of time - much like the climate crisis that we’re facing. We could write an article on each of the topics above, however, today we’re sharing our top tangible takeaways, actions and resources for your business from just four of the topics covered. Let’s dig in…
Topic One: Financing a Net Zero Future
“Climate Change is an open secret. The growth story of the 21st century is this: there are no returns on a dead planet”
Key Takeaway: There was a full house agreement that to save the planet, whilst technology is important, finance is the driver. We need to get senior leaders to understand that their business won’t exist in the future if we don’t change now - be that a result of reputational risk, environmental changes or policy and legal developments.
Action: Educate at every level the risks and opportunities in ESG. Take time to hire the right sustainability leads (and yes, every business should have one). Align CFOs and CSOs on grant and funding opportunities.
Resource: The UNFCCC’s report on climate finance is a great place to start, as well as Jason Hickel’s Less is More.
Topic Two: Competition and Collaboration to Net Zero
“How can we reframe fighting climate change from a series of sacrifices to a multitude of positive business opportunities?”
Key Takeaway: We need both competition and collaboration for Net Zero. Competition promotes fair pricing, drives innovation, increases retention, which in turn means businesses always have to do more. Collaboration means we find solutions quicker and remove blockers (including finance and knowledge hiding).
Action: Working in sustainability gives companies a unique opportunity to work with competitors for solutions, and has the potential to be a win-win for all involved. Reach out to industry working groups and climate-focused communities like Leaders for Climate Action or MCJ Collective to get started.
Resource: Sail GP is a great example of collaboration success, and the CMA’s draft guidance on environmental sustainability agreements is open for consultation until April 11th.
Topic Three: Translating Employee Expectations
“Less bad simply isn’t good enough. As businesses, when did we shift from playing to win, to playing just not to lose?”
Key Takeaway: People are a bigger, short term risk to businesses than climate. No one wants to work for a bad company, and as more millennials and Gen Z’s move into leadership, this is going to become more apparent.
Action: Start doing something. Not done a carbon footprint report? Do one. Not completed an engagement survey? Do one. Not doing anything isn’t an option anymore, and remember that when it comes to sustainability, you’re only in competition with yourself.
Resource: Oracle’s Global ESG Study: No Planet B, details the impact good ESG can have on business and employees.
Topic Four: Government's Role in Net Zero
“Delivery undermines Trust. We need to prove that Net Zero and positive economic growth go hand-in-hand”
Key Takeaway: The potential for the UK, and therefore businesses, to be green energy leaders is huge - from nuclear, to hydrogen, to solar and wind generation - and the UK government is putting a large sum of money into making this a reality. The UK is also aiming to be world leaders in carbon capture, usage & storage (CCUS), with the north sea potential here to sequester and store 78 billion tonnes of CO2e by 2030.
Action: Due diligence, legal compliance and transparent reporting and action will put businesses in the right direction as policy ramps up. Whilst it's voluntary now, this is set to become mandatory for all UK businesses very soon.
Resource: On March 31st, the UK Government released their latest Green Finance Strategy, the Powering Up Britain Policy, the International Climate Finance Strategy and their delivery plan for Carbon Budgets.
That’s it from us! If you’re keen for us to cover any other events and conferences coming up, get in touch!
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> Brand Spotlight
True Gum: How one brand is tackling some sticky issues
Chewing gum is the second most common form of litter in the world. Every year 12 football pitches worth of gum is disposed of improperly, racking up a huge £7 million cleaning bill in the UK alone. After chewing on the problem for a while, the UK government has recently launched a £10 million taskforce to clean up Britain’s streets. Gum litter isn’t just a sticky hazard, however - it’s pollution.
Chewing gum is all-too-often made from plastic, no different to that found in tyres and plastic bottles. When we throw away gum, it doesn’t degrade. It gradually breaks down into microplastics, eventually pervading our terrestrial and ocean ecosystems.
Introducing: True Gum
Gum’s clearly a sticky issue. But what if there was a way to have your gum and chew it too? True Gum might just have the solution. True Gum was born of true grit. The brand was founded in Copenhagen in 2017 by four friends wanting to make a change. It took nearly 500 attempts to find the perfect recipe, but True Gum is now sold in some of the biggest retailers in the UK, including Whole Foods and Holland and Barrett. With a $1m investment from VC powerhouse Oyster Bay, it’s clear there’s huge excitement about the brand. .
So, how is True Gum different?
True Gum is Europe’s first POFCAP (International Palm Oil Free Certification Trademark) certified chewing gum. Instead of a plastic core, they use sap from the Sapodilla tree in Central America. The sap (chicle) is harvested using a centuries-old technique that doesn’t require the trees to be cut down, supporting local farmers. The other ingredients include 100% natural flavours alongside stevia and xylitol for added sweetness, making the chewing gum entirely plant-based.
In addition to their sustainable packaging, their processing facility in Copenhagen runs entirely on renewable energy from Danish wind farms! With the success of their gums, they’ve expanded their product range to include True Mints and True Drops - both also 100% vegan and sustainably packaged. The True Drops packaging even uses a compostable bio-foil which dissolves in just 26 days!
True Gum believes that consumers want sustainable alternatives to their products, and are currently proving this by their rapid expansion throughout the European markets and into UAE and Australia. As a team, we can’t wait to see where they go next.
Take a closer look at True Gum:
> In case you missed it
👋 We're growing the Following the Footprints team - join us!
Passionate about consumer goods x sustainability? Have a few hours per month? Jump in and join our team!
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Conference: Innovation Zero - 24th-25th May