The Plastic Neutral Certification enabled these brands to immediately address the growing concerns of their customer base, tell unique stories on their sustainability commitment, and differentiate themselves from the competition on the aisle and in the customer’s mind.
A new paradigm for sustainable packaging is making waves within the consumer goods industry. Plastic neutrality — the concept of measuring, reducing and offsetting a company’s unique plastic footprint — is enabling companies large and small to assess their plastic emissions, set up an incentive structure that rewards future footprint reductions, and take action today by financing the removal of as much nature-bound plastic waste as their supply chains create.
Three CPG brands are at the forefront of this new movement and have joined rePurpose Global — a movement of conscious consumers and businesses going Plastic Neutral worldwide. Through this partnership, these companies became Plastic Neutral Certified in three steps.
First, they worked with sustainability experts at rePurpose to measure the unique plastic footprint of their packaging and supply chains, using easily available data of product specs and sales stats. Second, at $0.50 per kilogram of its footprint, each company funds the removal and reuse of an equivalent amount of low-value plastic waste otherwise too unprofitable to be diverted from landfills, incineration or oceans. This was accomplished through rePurpose Global’s global impact network of vetted recycling initiatives across 3 continents. Finally, these brands committed to tangibly reduce its use of virgin plastic going forward.
The Plastic Neutral Certification enabled these brands to immediately address the growing concerns of their customer base, tell unique stories on their sustainability commitment across marketing channels, and ultimately differentiate themselves from the competition on the aisle and in the customer’s mind.
First movers stand out from the crowd
All-natural pet food brand Nature’s Logic has no chemically synthesized vitamins, minerals or other man-made nutrients. CEO David Yaskulka has over a decade of experience in the industry, and is devoted to growing his business in an environmentally and socially responsible direction: “Our mission is to apply the logic of nature to everything we touch.”
Nature’s Logic uses renewable energy to power its offices and make its food. The company is also a of the Pet Sustainability Coalition, and sponsors initiatives such as Free The Ocean to help remove plastic from the seas.
As an early adopter of plastic neutrality, Yaskulka says the process, “while rigorous, is neither expensive nor difficult.” Nature’s Logic prides itself on pioneering — it boasts the first Certified Plastic Neutral brand within the pet food market; as well as the first 100% natural products in the pet food industry, sourcing all of the nutrition from whole foods and all-natural ingredients.
Innovation within established industries is a difficult task, so the ability to bring something new to the table can revolutionize your marketplace and draw the attention of your consumers. Plastic neutrality helped separate Nature’s Logic’s brand from its competition.
Consumers and retailers want to make a difference, and Yaskulka has proven his company is one to watch. He predicts “consumers will be expecting to see the Certified Plastic Neutral seal on all the products they support — or they’ll be switching to those that do.”
Extending brand positioning
Safe Catch is a seafood company dedicated to purity. Each fish is sustainably caught, tested for safe mercury levels and packaged without additives. President and co-founder Sean Wittenberg has developed proprietary purity-testing technology and seafood quality-assurance programs. He has built a platform to translate his passion for sustainability into consumer transparency.
As a seafood company, a healthy ocean is critical for its success. Wittenberg assesses that “environmental purity protects the purity of our food,” acknowledging a symbiotic relationship between environmental health and the health of his consumers. He believes that “helping to protect the marine ecosystem is part of our commitment to each other and the world.”
Plastic neutrality was an effortless adaptation into Wittenberg’s company’s values. “Offsetting any plastic in our pouch packaging by intercepting and recycling an equivalent amount of ocean-bound plastic is a natural extension of how we value our planet,” he said. “Consumers increasingly demand value well beyond taste and nutrition. Products need to demonstrate tangible social responsibility.”
To meet these expectations and match the brand mission, rePurpose Global created a portfolio of plastic-offset projects for Safe Catch that focused on both socioeconomic empowerment of marginalized waste pickers and marine ecosystem conservation. Suchithwa and Waste Ventures India — two recycling social ventures in India — are utilizing Safe Catch’s plastic-offset contributions to collect flexible packaging waste items both bound for landfills in Hyderabad and recovered from the Indian Ocean off the coast of Kerala. The organizations are generating additional income for over 120 waste pickers and their families, as well as enabling ethical employment for over 25 women in Kerala’s coastal fishing communities who otherwise lack economic opportunities.
Brands such as Safe Catch have evolved their business strategies to ”go beyond benefitting our individual company, but to benefit the greater good and a cleaner environment.”
Deepening customer loyalty and attracting new segments
A fourth-generation farmer, Duncan Farrington is dedicated to sustainable farming. Farrington Oils is the first company in the UK to offer a ‘seed to bottle’ cold-pressed rapeseed oil, which is harvested through methods that adhere to LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) guidelines. Across the board, Farrington is committed to innovating his brand to become as nature-friendly as possible. Solar power generates half of the farm’s electricity, and Farrington is continually searching for cutting-edge impact strategies.
The immediate impact of the rePurpose Global platform appealed to Farrington over other sustainable packaging programs. “We have seen lots of big companies making pledges … for 10 or 20 years in the future,” but he wanted Farrington Oils to take immediate climate action. Taking the step to become plastic neutral makes “it clear that sustainability is not just something we talk about.”
The “overwhelmingly positive” consumer response — in addition to a 3rd-page national newspaper editorial, and interviews with local radio and TV stations — demonstrated the brand-building potential of plastic neutrality. Farrington acknowledges that becoming plastic neutral has further aligned his brand’s values with his customers and “made our products even more appealing.” The certification enabled the brand to target the eco-friendly segment while providing a straightforward path towards climate action.
Putting aside environmental impact, did the certification pay off from a business perspective? Farrington admits that despite the “offset program may have initial costs, the benefits to the business came through increased loyalty and new customers.” Farrington is a firm believer that “if a business cares about the environment, they should definitely go ahead with climate offset programs … if a small company like us can do this, then everyone can!”
The Plastic Neutral framework allows companies to assess their footprint, and drive action. Through the platform, companies can differentiate themselves, extend brand loyalty, and attract new segments. Only if the ecosystem of brands and innovators work together can we reduce waste, revive lives and restore nature’s balance.
This article first appeared in www.sustainablebrands.com
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