Discover more from Following the Footprints
🌱 Diving In: Your Blue Carbon 101, and Alpkit's 'Continuum' wetsuit recycling scheme with Circular Flow.
Featuring Finisterre, Seasalt Cornwall, Moon Juice, Alpkit and more...
This week we cover:
Quick Take: The Future is Blue: Why Blue Carbon is capturing the hearts and wallets of our favourite brands.
Brand Spotlight: Alpkit x Circular Flow: Introducing the neoprene continuum.
In case you missed it: 💥 #11 - Meet the Brands - Thinking inside the box: How Butternut Box use carbon forecasting to empower their workforce, featuring Emma Lindsay, Sustainability Manager.
> Good News Last Week
🎯 Moon Juice announced they are donating all proceeds from their earth day matcha drink to Intersectional Environmentalist for all of April. Intersectional Environmentalist is an organization that shares resources about the intersections of climate and identity and hosts climate justice concerts.
🎯 Toast have partnered with Gadd’s Ramsgate Brewery to produce a special Earth Day IPA. The collaborators took many steps to minimize the beer’s carbon footprint, including using solar energy for the brewing process, using surplus breadcrumbs and raw barley to supplement the malted barley, and using locally grown hops.
🎯 Here We Flow announced announced they’re B Corp certified, and achieved 109.9 points.
⭐️ Olio and Social Pantry have announced their partnership to reduce work-place catering food waste. Excess food will be donated to local communities. In cases where food cannot be redistributed, Social Pantry will use biodigesters and first mile food bins to reduce their waste.
⭐️ Marks and Spencer have announced they will be using their unsold bakery products to make their frozen garlic bread. This decision comes part of their aim to halve their food waste by 2030. In addition, all bakery products will be packaged in 100% widely recycled materials.
⭐️ Lego announced they are building a carbon neutral toy factory in Virginia, US. The factory will run entirely on solar powered electricity. This decision is part of Lego’s goal to be net zero by 2050 and aim to receive Gold LEED certification for their factory which considers energy, water and waste.
⚡️European Union governments announced their legislation placing a carbon tax on imports. This decision comes as a push for economies globally to put a price on carbon emissions and discourage companies from moving their production facilities to countries with weaker environmental regulations. Companies will have to buy certificates for the emissions produced during the production of their goods being imported to the EU.
> Click on each link to read more.
Keen to join Bread & Jam’s Future Summit on the 23 of May?
Good news! We have our very own 30% discount just for you 👉 FOLLOWING30
This 1-day Summit for mission-driven challenger food & drink brands is taking place on 23rd May at Conway Hall, powered by GS1 UK. It's a full-day line up of founder-led panel discussions, practical advice and tangible ways that allow you to start making progress towards achieving your sustainability and purpose-driven goals. There’s also speed mentoring, a Sustainable Packaging Zone, 1:1 advice in the Certification Corner, networking with 200+ FMCG sustainability leaders and so much more! We don’t profit from our FOLLOWING30 discount code, we’re simply excited to spread the word.
We loved last year’s summit so much, we shared all our key takeaways here. Planning to go? Let us know - we’d love to see you there!
> Quick Take
The Future is Blue: Why Blue Carbon is capturing the hearts and wallets of our favourite brands.
Blue carbon is beginning to spark a lot of interest and investment. And not a moment too soon, as roughly 50% of coastal habitats have disappeared in the past century alone. With coastal ecosystems such as mangroves, storing up to 10 times the amount of carbon as traditional land-based forests, blue carbon represents a unique opportunity to save these habitats and sequester a tidal wave of carbon - a topic worthy of our attention!
Let’s dive beneath the surface, what exactly is blue carbon?
Blue carbon refers to the carbon stored in coastal and marine ecosystems, such as mangroves, seagrass meadows and salt marshes.Despite covering less than 2% of the total ocean area, these coastal ecosystems account for approximately 50% of the carbon absorbed in ocean sediments. Blue carbon projects that restore and protect marine ecosystems, can be purchased by organisations on the Voluntary Carbon Market (VCM) and used to meet net zero ambitions.
Blue carbon projects also include a range of revegetation, hydrology interventions and aquatic farming projects. Seafields, a UK-based aquaculture company, is piloting just this. Developing a sargassum seaweed farm in the Indian Ocean, roughly the size of Croatia, the project will grow, harvest, bind and sink sargassum seaweed to the bottom of the oxygen-depleted sea floor where the carbon is sequestered. The project has the potential of sequestering 1 gigaton of CO2 every year.
The expansion of the blue carbon market hinges on the verification of more blue carbon offsetting projects. In 2020, the standard setter Verra took a crucial step towards this growth by registering the first-ever blue carbon conservation methodology, thereby adding blue carbon conservation and restoration activities as eligible project types.
In collaboration with Conservation International, Apple financed the preservation of an 11,000 acre mangrove in Cispata, Colombia. This project became the first blue carbon initiative to have its complete carbon sequestration capability verified by Verra. Not only did Apple make a blueprint for other brands to follow, but they also helped safeguard a carbon-rich, watery wonderland for wildlife and local communities, whilst driving towards their net zero ambitions.
But why the ‘boutique’ price?
Blue carbon credits are resource intensive to bring to market. As such, the supply shortage of quality blue credits, coupled with high levels of interest from first movers means credits are sold at a premium. According to The Ocean Foundation, blue carbon credits are sold between 2 - 4 times higher than reforestation credits.
Looking beyond blue carbon offsets?
Good news! There are other exciting opportunities for brands to attach real world, ocean driven activities to sustainability ambitions by volunteering time expertise and financial support. Where better to source inspiring blue carbon brand-led initiatives than Cornwall - the UK’s seaside gem that recently made headlines for the discovery of one of the UK’s largest seagrass meadows.
Finisterre, the designers of functional and sustainable products for sea lovers, go above and beyond to promote and protect the ocean. Their recent partnership with Project Seagrass demonstrates just that. Planting seagrass seeds along the Cornish coastline and resourcing investigative expeditions to map unknown areas of seagrass, Finisterre is making great strides to protect and restore the ‘lungs of the earth’ whilst adding a compelling edge to its brand.
Seasalt Cornwall is also aligning with its nautical Cornish roots, investing over £150,000 and 120 hours of volunteering time to protect and restore seagrass meadows (including the rare dwarf seagrass in the Fal Estuary). Excited by the blue carbon momentum, read more in Seasalt’s brand spotlight here.
Looking for projects to support? Check out these organisations:
Blue Ventures: works across the globe to restore and safeguard ocean ecosystems and support small-scale fishing communities. Through their mission, they have protected 16,080 km2 of vital ocean habitats and positively impacted the lives of over 677,982 people.
Project Seagrass: a marine conservation charity dedicated to the global protection of seagrass. Project Seagrass has worked in 14 countries, planted over one million seagrass seeds and contributed to over 70 scientific publications.
Seawilding: a community-led native oyster and seagrass restoration project, based at Loch Craignish, Argyll.
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> Brand Spotlight
Alpkit x Circular Flow: Introducing the neoprene continuum.
The global wetsuit market is growing exponentially, thanks to the proven link between happiness and blue spaces, and of inland surfing centres such as the Wave in Bristol. Valued at 1.5 billion USD in 2021, the rise in popularity of watersports means the wetsuit market is projected to reach a huge 2.4 billion USD by 2030. However, if in 2021, an estimated 8380 tonnes of neoprene (the synthetic rubber used to make most wetsuits) is already ending up in landfill annually, we’ve got an even bigger problem on our hands over the next decade .
While science tries to catch up, it’s crucial we find a (wet)suitable end of life for the one million unused wetsuits per year. Last month, Country Walking’s Brand of the Year Alpkit announced a partnership with Circular Flow to tackle the problem head on. Let’s dive in…
What’s the problem, and the solution?
Because of the complex structure and the “thermosetting” of neoprene, wetsuits are particularly difficult to recycle, to alter or to be used for something else. That’s where Circular Flow’s innovative technology comes in. Through research in collaboration with Bulgaria’s University of Chemical Technology and Metallurgy, they’ve found a way to retain the textile laminate during reformulation. This can then be processed to create different materials without burning or toxic chemicals.
Where does Alpkit come in?
UK-based sports brand Alpkit have created a recycling scheme in partnership with Circular Flow and their reformation technology which achieves the much sought-after balance between effectiveness and simplicity for the customer. It works in four simple steps:
Step 1: Customers send their old wetsuit via Alpkit’s returns service or via any Alpkit store
Step 2: Alpkit sends the suits off to Circular Flow
Step 3: Circular Flow processes into ‘new’ neoprene
Step 4: Alpkit designs new products using this reformulated neoprene
Not only do these wetsuits get saved from landfill, but Alpkit then has an ever-increasing supply of non-virgin material for their product ranges too. A win for business, and a win for the planet.
What else has Alpkit done?
What’s impressive about Alpkit’s approach isn’t just this wave-making partnership. It’s the recognition that this isn’t the only solution. The brand encourages this scheme only in the case where the other three R’s - reuse, repair, repurpose - aren’t appropriate.
Alpkit’s Continuum programme takes gear of any sort and donates it through eight charitable partners. Through their work with charities such as Nottingham Bikeworks and Manna House, Alpkit found the best possible home for 5 tonnes of unused gear last year alone. If there’s a better way to reuse old kit we’d like to hear it.
While Alpkit’s products are specifically designed for longevity, their repair stations (or ‘wetsuit hospitals’ in their words) eke every last surf out of each item. Where repair isn’t possible, Alpkit still has a way of preventing items going to landfill: repurposing. Through further partnerships with organisations such as Dirtbags Climbing, even the most wave-worn wetsuit can be upcycled into whole new products (we’re particularly keen on this ‘human coaster’).
Alpkit has long-been ahead of the curve in implementing circularity. Their schemes aren’t just a collection of single-issue projects but a purposeful strategy with a singular aim: to avoid waste at all costs. Find out more about their further campaigns, including a collaboration with Re:Down, here.
Take a closer look at Alpkit:
> In case you missed it
💥 #11 - Meet the Brands - Thinking inside the box: How Butternut Box use carbon forecasting to empower their workforce.
Featuring Emma Lindsay, Sustainability Manager at Butternut Box
> Follow up with…
Article: The modern CEO is a sustainable CEO
Event: Earth Conversations with Allbirds - 26th April
Summit: Future Summit by Bread & Jam - 23rd May - FOLLOWING30 for 30% off!