2021 was a landmark year for corporate sustainability. At Following the Footprints, we’re excited to continue showcasing the brands who will define what it means to be a purpose led business in 2022. We’ll continue to uncover how they’re doing it, who they’re working with, and how your business can take note. Before 2021 is over, we’d like to showcase 21 initiatives brands have run in 2021 which we’ve loved.
We’d also like to say thank you.
We’ve been tracking progress across FMCG brands since February 2021, and we’re grateful for your support this year.
Following the Footprints in numbers:
1 Knowvember Campaign championing climate labelling, which we are founding partners of alongside 7 incredible brands.
5 team members - hi from Leone, Ben, Pippa, Cameron and Ruby!
9 ‘Meet the Brands’ deep dive interviews with founders and sustainability leads from some of the UK’s most exciting FMCG brands: allplants, Pip & Nut, Seedlip, Sipsmith, Rubies in the Rubble, TENZING Natural Energy, Daye, Good Hemp and Evolve Beauty.
33 weeks of good news, brand profiles, quick topics and over 132 recommended resources since our newsletter started in May 2021.
90 COP26 Events endorsed via our live calendar, which guided over 2,500 people.
92 carbon accounting companies profiled in our MEASURE Database, contributing to 1 article in Sifted.
21,125 - how many times our work has been read by you.
From the very beginning, we’ve received countless thank yous, kind words, emails of encouragement and displays of support. As a volunteer-run platform it really means the world, and we can’t thank you enough. We’ve also received constructive feedback too, which we’re equally grateful for.
Our aim as a platform is to help brands make progress. We don’t expect perfection, and instead choose to champion the individuals within organisations who are putting in the work, work their consumers may never see. It’s been our privilege this year to peak behind the scenes, and be trusted to communicate their work to you. Thank you to every single founder and leader who has worked with us.
⚡️ 21 in 2021 - let’s go!⚡️
First, it’s important to set the record straight. This isn’t a ‘best of the best’ list. This is a non-exhaustive list of 21 initiatives brands have taken in 2021 that our readers have nominated and loved, and which you may have missed. There have been more actions taken by brands this year than we can count, and these certainly aren’t the ‘main’ or ‘biggest’ steps each brand has taken. We applaud every brand that has worked towards reducing their environmental impact. We want to showcase the breadth of actions taken by brands this year, so no two initiatives on this list are the same.
What do we mean by ‘initiative’? We’ve focused on public actions taken by companies to champion transparency, innovation and collaboration for the goal of reduced environmental impact. The criteria:
Initiative must have taken place in 2021.
Initiative must be from an FMCG brand, mostly UK based and mostly SMEs.
Initiative must either reduce environmental impact or take an environmental stance.
Initiative must be publicly declared, and dated, outside of Following the Footprints’ own platform.
Finally, we’ve avoided including any pledges, commitments and targets. Brands are, and should be, working towards incredible goals, and we celebrate them as they do. However, we don’t stand to rank targets or pledges, that’s unique to each and every business. From Seedlip pledging 1% for the Planet, to Sipsmith aiming for a 46% emissions reduction target, we’ve been blown away many times this year and end 2021 filled with optimism as a result.
👉 Allbirds - Lowest Carbon Footprint sneaker
Allbirds partnered with industry giant Adidas on the 'lowest-carbon-footprint' performance sneaker ever created. Now, the shoe is being rolled out for widespread commercial launch - showing that radical collaboration within industries can really pay off.
👉 allplants - Future Forward Farming Partnership
allplants announced their partnership with Soil Heroes. Soil Heroes ‘enable businesses to engage with farmers in order to make the transition towards regenerative (organic) agriculture by paying them for the benefits (ecosystem services)’. To start, allplants will be ‘working shoulder to shoulder’ with Showsley Farm (UK) to help them introduce regenerative agriculture to their land and sequester an additional 67.5 tons of CO2 every year.
👉 Beauty Kitchen UK Ltd - 'Re'
Beauty Kitchen UK Ltd launched a pioneering circular packaging programme called 'Re'. Re aims to help the entire beauty industry tackle its packaging problem head-on, and stop single-use plastic at every stage of the supply chain. Hi-tech Smart Re bottles will only have to be used once before their global warming impact is less than a plastic bottle. Re are inviting beauty brands to collaborate with them. Already, Unilever has started to roll out refill stations and prefilled Re Smart Bottles into ASDA stores in the UK.
Their aim? To save over 100 million empty bottles from landfill by the end of 2024.
👉 Brewgooder - ‘People Positive’ QR Codes
In April, Brewgooder announced their newly designed cans, equipped with QR codes which will allow customers to register and track the ‘People Positive’ impact they make whilst enjoying the beer. They've also included QR codes in all their festive shipping boxes, enabling customers to find their nearest foodbanks. Customers can then fill the boxes with donations, and pay the kindness forward at Christmas.
👉 Circla - Product Refill Service
Launched this year, Circla are changing the way consumers engage with the refill movement. They’re aiming to transition the beauty ecosystem to a more circular model of consumption. Recent recipients of a Marie Claire UK Sustainability Award, Circla is the last-mile, closed loop innovation that embodies the ‘cradle-cradle’ product journey many brands aspire to achieve.
👉 Glenfiddich - Closed Loop Delivery Fuel
Glenfiddich started converting their delivery trucks to run on low-emission biogas made from waste products from their own whisky distilling process, as part of their "closed loop" sustainability initiative.
👉 Gousto x Fareshare x DPD
Gousto has built on it’s existing partnership with Fareshare, by launching a partnership with DPD to re-distribute any failed deliveries. The aim? To reduce food waste and divert produce to those who need it most.
👉 Jacked Foods x What3Words
Jacked Foods announced its partnership with What3Words, to help customers see the supply chain of their products via three words printed on the back of every packet.
👉 Lily's Kitchen - Plant Power Range
The first mainstream brand to create nutritionally complete vegan dog food, Lily's Kitchen initially launched their vegan range during Veganuary. Recently, they've updated their offering to include a full Plant Power range.
👉 Milly Grace - Silver Recycling Scheme
Milly Grace introduced a silver recycling scheme where consumers can receive a £15 gift voucher for sending in old jewellery. All their jewellery is responsibly sourced, and they aim to keep materials in circulation via this scheme.
👉 Mindful Chef - Low Carbon Range Carbon Labels
Mindful chef introduced carbon labels on all their recipe kits, as part of their Low Carbon Range, enabling customers to select recipes which are in line with the WWF’s target of reducing dietary-related emissions.
👉 Ocean Bottle - Gails NFC Smart Chips
Ocean Bottle partnered with Gails Bakery, launching NFC smart chip impact platform through which Gails will fund the collection of ocean bound plastic for hot drinks purchased.
👉 Pandora - Lab Created Diamonds
Pandora launched its first lab-created diamond collection, which has been certified as carbon neutral.
👉 PANGAIA - Digital Passports
PANGAIA unveiled new ‘digital passports’ printed into every clothing label, enabling the customer to view that garment’s journey when the QR code is scanned via phone. They partnered with EON to achieve this, using EON’s Circular Product Data Protocol to ensure that resale, recycling and sorting partners can access the data they need to identify and manage products from one lifecycle to the next.
👉 Pip & Nut - Glass Jars
Pip & Nut transitioned to 50% recycled glass jars across all previously plastic jar products. It features a fully recyclable label and lid, and is part of the brands ambition to reach Net Zero emissions by 2030.
👉 Rubies in the Rubble - #GleanupforCOP26
When Rubies in the Rubble heard that one of their farmers, who they've worked with for over 8 years, was having to leave the fruit on their trees this year, they called upon their network of food-waste-fighting friends at Oddbox, The Gleaning Network, and The Felix Project to get picking. Food waste accounts for 8-10% of global emissions.
👉 Sipsmith - Loop at Tesco
Sipsmith's returnable bottle has been launched in 13 Tesco stores via Tesco's Loop initiative. Once empty Sipsmith bottles can be returned to Tesco to be professionally cleaned and refilled, for use again.
👉 TENZING Natural Energy - Knowvember Campaign
TENZING want to encourage you to choose brands that know and show their impact. Working with CarbonCloud and seven other brands, alongside Following the Footprints to document their efforts, TENZING launched the Knowvember Pop Up Shop, where consumers could experience carbon labelled grocery shopping for the first time in the UK.
👉 Toast Ale - Companion Series
Toast Ale launched its Companion Series, bringing together 25 breweries to release 26 limited edition beers, a charitable collaboration to coincide with COP26. 3.25 million trees in threatened tropical rainforests will be protected via the Rainforest Trust, and 360 tonnes of CO2 will be captured (among other benefits) via Soil Heroes.
👉 Wiltshire Farm Foods - Collect and Recycle Scheme
Wiltshire Farm Foods announced their Collect and Recycle Scheme, alongside new fully recyclable trays, bringing them one step closer to producing a ‘zero-packaging’ ready meal. Involving 100% recyclable trays, collection services and delivery services, on an industrial scale it was believed to be the first of its kind.
👉 Yeo Valley - Solar Panel Project
Yeo Valley have invested £1 million in installing 3,300 solar panels at their Highbridge site, taking them one step closer to achieving their goal of becoming 50% electricity self-sufficient in the next 10 years.
What’s next for Following the Footprints in 2022?
Here’s what you can expect…
No more Friday newsletters. We’ll shift towards a Monday newsletter, starting on Monday 10th January.
More resources, and ways for you to connect with the industry partners you need. MEASURE was just the beginning….
New contributors, more voices. We’re excited to feature more industry voices on our platform in 2022. Interested? Let us know!
A growing team. We’re always on the hunt for incredible team members (see more info here). We’re also looking for advisors who are keen to help us shape the future of our platform. Interested? Get in touch - firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keen to help? Answer these quick questions to help us improve. You can also help us by sharing our work with your friends and networks.
Thank you again for your trust and support so far. We’re grateful to our growing subscriber base for supporting our mission this year, and we’re excited for the progress we can help each other make as a community.