🌱 Pivoting to Plant Based: It worked for BOL foods.

Featuring BOL foods, Lily's Kitchen, Treepoints, Caulibox and more...

Happy Friday!

This week we cover:

  • How BOL foods’ pivot to plant based has paid off.

  • Ever heard of a ‘business systems manual’? It could be the key to building a truly sustainable business - we dig into how.

  • In case you missed it: Plastic Credits at the checkout? There's a new wave of offset APIs, led by startups like Treepoints.

> Good News This Week

🎯 HelloFresh has certified as a B Corp, the second recipe box company to do so. Certification extends to its sister brand Green Chef UK. 

🎯 Wiltshire Farm Foods has implemented a closed loop recycling scheme in Warrington, involving 100% recyclable trays, collection services and delivery services. On an industrial scale, it’s believed to be the first of its kind. 

🎯 Caulibox, a tech startup that provides digitally-enabled reusable food packaging solutions to businesses, secured £250,000 in Seed funding. 

⭐️ Coop launched its soft plastic recycling scheme across 1,500 stores in July, aiming to offer it at another 800 stores by the end of 2021. 

⭐️ Aldi has committed to installing doors in all new or newly refurbished stores as part of a wider carbon reduction cooling strategy. This amounts to a 20% reduction in per store emissions, intends to save 2,000 tonnes of carbon emissions a year from Aldi stores.

⚡️ Andrew Griffith MP, the UK COP26 Unit's Net-Zero Business Champion, has published open letters to retail, technology and manufacturing firms, urging them to commit to halving emissions by 2030 on the road to net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

⚡️ The Zero Carbon Campaign to pressure the UK Government to put a fair and consistent price on carbon reached 100,000 signatures on its last day, meaning it will now be considered for debate by parliament. 

> Click on each link to read more.

> Brand Spotlight

Pivoting to Plant Based: It worked for BOL foods.

BOL foods are on a mission to help more people eat plants. However, they weren’t always plant based. When they launched in 2015, their range contained meat, fish and dairy products. In 2017 they dropped meat and fish, influenced by research found in books like The Food Revolution. Dairy products were also removed from the SKU list at the end of Summer 2018, a move which saved 7 million litres of water, 194 tonnes of C02 emissions and 91 thousand square meters of farmland in one year (read more here). 

According to BOL Foods, their move to drop meat and fish halved the size of the company almost overnight. Whilst pivoting to plant-based has hugely reduced the carbon footprint of their goods, as well as their land use and impact on water, it had to make financial sense for their business too. By our measure, their success since has proven that it was a pivot that paid off (oh, and The Times agree too). They achieved triple digit growth within the year, and now BOL foods has 28 products and sales of £9.2 million last year, with (pre-tax) profits of £2 million.

In March 2021, BOL Foods achieved B Corp certification status, after 18 months of work spent on their application. Their overall score was 83.2, above the UK average of 80, and their Environment score was 18.6. At the time, only 60 food and drink brands in the UK had achieved this. They switched to offcuts of sugarcane to create 95% plastic free packaging for their Dinner Box range (see our previous article on the benefits of bagasse). It has a 40% lower carbon footprint than oil-based products, and BOL foods have saved 14.5 tonnes of plastic by 2020. 

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> Quick Take

Ever heard of a ‘business systems manual’? It could be the key to building a truly sustainable business. Here’s how.

Sustainability strategies are a hot topic in business management. If done right, integrating a less environmentally impactful approach can, among other things, cut costs and provide an all-important competitive edge. The question is, how can businesses big and small integrate sustainability throughout their operations, in a way that is easy for employees to engage with? Consumer goods companies often ask how one employee, or a small team, can create change that actually lasts. This week we’re inspired by business-to-business (B2B) companies. Pioneering organisations such as office suppliers UKOS plc are materialising the potential of sustainability strategies to drive long-term growth. Their secret? A Business Systems Manual (BSM).

What exactly is a Business Systems Manual? 

Often described as an ‘environmental management system’, or an ‘environmental policy’, BSMs are to break the overwhelming task of integrating sustainability into manageable steps. Previously, we’ve looked at Lily’s Kitchen, a perfect example of how successful an environmental management system can be for a consumer goods company. A skeleton BSM involves an overview of roles, the key performance indicators, and the outputs expected. It documents step-by-step how your business operates and how each of the job roles fits into the wider system. Here’s a practical guide for a Sustainability Management System to get an idea of metrics you need. For example, UKOS plc tracks their fuel and energy use. To target this, they established a Box4Life project, delivering reusable boxes alongside their products, and collecting empties on the same trip. This saved fuel, manufacturing expenditure and made them a customer favourite in one swoop. 

The real secret to business systems manuals, though, is their effect on morale. Providing visual evidence of progress through monthly graphs, and really involving employees ensures cross-departmental internal support. Your staff have something that is clearly defined, achievable and measurable to work with.

UKOS’ Jerry Young explains: You have to make it real, set targets and let people see the results. We have a ‘green champion’... And we allow our employees to come up with good ideas.” 

If this looks simple and familiar, it’s because it is. Businesses not originally established with a green agenda may well already have used this tool to simply keep on top of the Bottom Line. 

Not only does this mean that utilising a BSM is less of a psychological leap, it also means that the time spent monitoring progress by a sustainability lead is reduced. You already have the tools and resources you need to implement a sustainability strategy. With certified Carbon Neutrality and unprecedented growth, it seems to have worked for UKOS plc.

Interested? Tips and Resources:

  • Services such as the BSI group can provide direct assistance if you need further help.

  • A number of services offer specialist assistance in resource management, such as the Business Growth Hub

  • Investigate your customers’ sustainability goals, and identify how you can fit in with this.

  • Aim for reputation-boosting accreditations such as the ISO 14001.

  • See UKOS plc’s website for guidance and inspiration.

> In case you missed it

Plastic Credits at the checkout? There's a new wave of offset APIs, led by startups like Treepoints.

We chatted to the Treepoints team.

Read The Full Story

> Follow up with…

  1. Article: Billions are pouring into the business of decarbonisation

  2. Article: Why our food system should be at the heart of environment policy

  3. Newsletter: The Phoenix by Eric Holthaus

  4. Podcast: Episode 14: Rethinking Consumerism with the Circular Economy