🌱 We need to talk about Carbon Insetting.

Featuring Nuud Gum, Nespresso, Bread and Jam, Ours to Save and more...

Happy Friday!

What we’re covering this week:

  • Why it’s time to use the term Carbon Insetting.

  • How Nuud Gum are solving a plastic problem consumers didn’t know they had.

  • In case you missed it: Research and Development: A startup's secret weapon?

> Good News This Week

🎯 Rude Health achieved B Corp status, scoring 84.1. 

🎯 Served Hard Seltzer, a seltzer brand utilising wonky fruit, announced Ellie Golding as a new co-owner and And Rising as new investors.

⭐️ Lego unveiled prototype bricks made from recycled plastic bottles, a step towards their goal to make all products from sustainable sources by 2030. 

⭐️ Olam Food Ingredients announced a cashew transparency initiative dubbed ‘The Cashew Trail’. Goals include fighting farmer poverty by increasing average yields by 50%, helping 250,000 cashew households to improve their livelihoods and halving the greenhouse gas emission intensity of their cashew supply chain. 

⚡️ A Yorkshire dales restoration scheme aims to work with local communities to restore 1,150 hectares ahead of COP26. Partners include WWF, Natural England and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. 

⚡️ The Climate Change Committee (CCC) published its annual report offering its verdict on the UK's progress against its climate goals. Read a breakdown here.

> Click on each link to read more.

> Quick Take

It’s Time We Talked About Carbon Insetting…

The value of the global market for carbon offsets could increase to $200 billion by 2050. If a small portion of this capital directed at purchasing carbon credits was diverted to support carbon insetting within a company’s own value chain, direct emission reductions and a net zero business model would be more attainable than ever before. But what do we mean by carbon insetting, and why is it the forgotten cousin of carbon offsetting?

What is carbon insetting?

Carbon insetting is the reduction of the carbon footprint within the existing value chain, in contrast to beyond the value chain in carbon offsetting projects. Unlike offsetting, carbon insetting focuses on working via projects and partnerships to reduce emissions at their source. 

We’ve seen this practice plenty of times in the brands we’ve featured and the topics we’ve covered, but perhaps without this label. Switching from carbon intensive last mile delivery to an e-fleet? Carbon insetting. Partnering with suppliers to promote regenerative agriculture, and so increase carbon sequestration? Carbon insetting. 

The overlooked cousin of carbon offsets. 

The continuous debate surrounding carbon offsets, their efficiency, and how brands can navigate offsetting without greenwashing and inaccurate carbon accounting isn’t going anywhere (see our previous article on additional offsets). The minefield of ‘authentic’ climate claims, legitimacy and third party verification is all too often made trickier with offsetting projects which feel and are geographically far away from a company’s value chain. A hyper-local approach to offsetting can cross-over to be classified as insetting - for example, if tree planting in Mexico improves the soil quality of the field you get your avocados from and improves yield. However, this is time and resource intensive, and many brands simply don’t have the visibility of their supply chain to go straight to the source. Instead, brands need partnerships to achieve insetting.

Why the lack of attention around carbon insetting? To start, it’s less easily communicated. Improving cooling efficiency at a Tier 2 manufacturing plant might be harder to fit into an instagram post than a reforestation project in Nicaragua. It could also be harder to execute, with immediate offsetting becoming increasingly easy and automated for brands, and SMEs often lacking the capital to support their suppliers in reducing their emissions. However, long term financial benefits from investment into your supply chain will create a positive feedback loop for years to come. Net Zero targets will be closer within reach, supplier relationships will be strengthened, and any ‘greenwash’ night-terrors will be averted. 

Need inspiration? Check out Nespresso’s AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program which reaches over 120,000 farmers in 15 countries.

Do your consumers care?

The metrics consumers will increasingly use to compare brands and products are total carbon emissions and net carbon reduction - irregardless of what carbon has or hasn’t been offset. How much less carbon is needed to produce T-shirt A compared to T-shirt B? What % reduction in CO2e emissions has Brand C achieved in contrast to Brand D?

Whilst ‘Carbon Neutral’ as a term has been a powerful communication tool, Net Zero is the new benchmark for a truly sustainable business, and is one that all brands must aspire to meet eventually. Carbon insetting is one way to get there, and labelling insetting projects in the same way we label offsetting projects will aid communication around this crucial part of the race to net zero. 

Interested? Read on…

For perspective: 

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> Brand Spotlight

Nuud Gum: Solving a problem consumers didn’t know they had.

We’re chewing on 100,000 tonnes of plastic-filled gum every year, and 85% of us never knew. Spending his life savings to find an alternative, Nuud Gum founder Keir Garney has built a £100k business in just 6 months, and just made it onto the shelves of Waitrose. How? Patience, transparency and an unshakable faith in his unique selling point - plastic free gum.

Nuud is not like the other chewing gum brands out there, and it’s not scared to let us know. It’s own website describes the lack of transparency about plastics in well-known brands as “deceiving, not to mention disgusting”. Nuud’s marketing strategy is an overt expression of outrage. Copy like ‘chew plants not plastic’ and ‘tree sap 👍 car tyre 👎’ scatter Nuud’s web pages. They’re clearly designed to shock, and they’re juxtaposed with the utter transparency of the brand’s own ingredients. The website dedicates a whole page to listing its ingredients and explaining each one. Using all-natural saps such as Chicle and Carnauba Wax, the end product ‘biodegrades just like a banana-skin’. No-nonsense language, no-nonsense ingredients.

Through marketing, Nuud has harnessed the eco-activism movement, and is capitalising on it. Partnering with designers Broody, everything about its visual identity is evocative of protest signs, so familiar from images of climate strikes and Extinction Rebellion demos. The pandemic may have tried to hold him back, but with two more supermarket launches in the works, there was no stopping this movement. If Greta Thunberg were a chewing gum, she’d be Nuud. Just don’t read that out loud.

Something to chew on…

There’s a lot to learn from Nuud’s impressive launch. Not only do customers deserve transparency, as Garney notes, it’s also a “major purchasing driver” in today’s market. We agree (check out our take on transparency here). When your ingredients are as careful as Nuud’s, transparency is tantamount to boasting, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

Garney has captured the cultural climate through branding, and it’s this sort of appeal that’s particularly impressive to supermarkets and major retailers. Learn more about branding and identity here.

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> In case you missed it

Research and Development: A startup's secret weapon?

We take a look at 4.5.6 Skin, Three Spirit, Mous and more...

Read the Full Story

> Follow up with…

  1. Article: Why the world needs better climate pledges

  2. Event: The D2C Summit by Bread & Jam: A Gathering Of Direct To Consumer Thought Leaders (30th June 2021)

  3. Article: Tree Water and … Goose Droppings? Cheers to New, Creative Uses of Waste Streams

  4. Publication: Ours to Save

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