Corporate Social Responsibility

by Becky Toal and Veronica Broomes

Case studies

Here are two case studies of companies that fully embrace CSR as part of their core strategies and ethos.

Innocent Drinks can be found in any UK supermarket after several years of amazing growth from a small start-up company. The founders have put CSR at the heart of their agenda and credit much of their success to this stance.

Redeem came about in direct response to the need to recycle the ever-growing leftovers from our technological society. In a sense, the business would not exist without the trend to recycling and environmentally-friendly policies.

Innocent Drinks

Innocent is the number one smoothie brand in the UK, with a market share of 63 per cent. Launched in 1999, it is still the only range of 100 per cent pure fruit smoothies that uses fresh, rather than concentrated, juices. Turnover for 2007, nine years since start-up, was £114 million, an increase of £29 million on revenue in 2006. In April 2009, the company announced that it had sold a 20 per cent stake of this business to Coca-Cola. This is part of a longer-term plan to expand operations and tap into a global brand with an extensive distribution network.

As a business, Innocent wants to make it easy for people to do themselves some good – and to leave the planet a little bit better than they found it. This is reflected throughout the company’s operations, from Innocent’s use of green electricity at Fruit Towers, the London-based head office, to sourcing fruit from places that care for the environment and also go the extra mile in terms of looking after the people that work on the farms. All Innocent bananas come from farms accredited by the Rainforest Alliance. Every year the company donates 10 per cent of its profits to the Innocent Foundation, which funds NGOs in the countries where they source its fruits.

Innocent Drink’s first priority is to make fantastic-tasting drinks that are 100 per cent natural. And from that starting point, whether they are looking at who supplies their electricity at Fruit Towers or who supplies their bananas, they can make positive decisions across all areas of their business. Innocent wants to be a sustainable business.

Product packaging has a part to play in this context. Innocent have been innovators in this field since the company was launched. They were the first company to launch 25 per cent PCR (post-consumer recycled) PET packaging. Recently, this has increased to a recycled content of 50 per cent. Innocent has formulated a new, compostable ‘eco-bottle’, which was launched in January 2007. This is made from cornstarch, a 100 per cent renewable source. The eco-bottle is currently being used only for the breakfast thickie. The other plastic drinks bottles use 100 per cent recycled plastic.

Innocent offers customers advice on recycling through its website and on its packaging, communicating clearly to consumers on its labels, through the website and in weekly news. Innocent engages the customer to take part in recycling and communicates this in a fun and upbeat way.

Innocent does not market specifically to the ethical customer; the fact that they choose to run their business operations in a particular way is because they want to, not because they are specifically chasing a particular sort of person. Innocent embraces continual improvements: for example, when first engaging with the Rainforest Alliance, the only fruit they could certify for inclusion in the smoothies was bananas; now there’s every possibility that they will be able to introduce even more fruits with their strict certification.

Wider issues in society impact on the Innocent brand, in particular, the five-a-day fruit and vegetable campaign. Previous awareness in Britain of the health benefits of consuming fruit and vegetables was low. Today, more people are aware of this, but over half the population still aren’t eating enough fruit and vegetables. Innocent Drinks communicates to consumers that a smoothie can help contribute to their intake. Indeed Innocent perceived four big trends for European consumers:

  • Wanting to be a bit healthier
  • Wanting good quality products,
  • Wanting products that are convenient
  • Being interested in how responsible that business is.

More information on Innocent products and the foundation can be viewed at: www.innocentdrinks.co.uk and www.innocentfoundation.org.uk.

Redeem
Redeem is an international leader in the recovery, reuse and recycling of mobile phones and used printer cartridges. Founded in 1999, the company now has over 100 staff across three sites in the UK, Ireland and the USA. Redeem’s innovative consumer-facing recycling programmes, such as Recycling Appeal and Recycool, allow the company to access a wide range of high-quality products while raising funds for charities, schools, youth groups and other good causes. The printer cartridges and mobile phones recovered through these collection programmes are sold on for refilling and refurbishment and returned to the consumer stream. The company has seen impressive growth over the seven years since its inception, as recycling and environmental issues come increasingly to the fore.

Redeem’s core business has significant positive environmental impacts, having diverted over 2 million kg of unnecessary waste from landfill. However, as a company, Redeem believes that its responsibilities to the environment run deeper. It has therefore created and implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS) which meets the standards of both ISO 14001:2004 and Eco Management Audit System (EMAS) certifications, which were first attained in September 2002 and May 2004 respectively.

The company’s ISO 14001:2004 certified EMS provides a framework that allows the continual monitoring and improvement of environmental performance at all levels of business activity. The EMAS programme requires companies to produce and publish a detailed annual environmental statement for public access, supplying Redeem with a recognised reporting structure with which to communicate its environmental achievements to a wider audience.

Redeem’s environmental systems operate around five key objectives:

  • Increase positive environmental impacts
  • Reduce the amount of waste going to landfill
  • Reduce its contribution to global climate change
  • Reduce environmental impacts of resources used
  • Minimise potential for pollution incidents.

Through their business model of reuse and recycling, Redeem is some way to meeting a number of these objectives; however, their EMS is supported by a number of other policies and processes to further support sustainability and meet the standards prescribed by ISO 14001:2004 and EMAS.

The company works proactively to further increase the positive environmental impacts based on their five key objectives. Internal recycling programmes, increased energy efficiency, a sustainable transport policy and supplier evaluation questionnaires are just some of the measures which have allowed the company to retain their environmental accreditations.

Redeem’s positive environmental stance has always been attractive to its partner organisations, who, given the nature of their business, are keen to ensure that they are associated with a professional, forward-thinking organisation that is in touch with legal and other considerations. The growing emphasis on corporate social responsibility means that ever more commercial organisations are looking to recycling to boost their green credentials and meet the needs of their increasingly discerning customers.

The type of organisations Redeem work with on their collection programmes can vary from small charities to large commercial organisations. Having internationally-recognised environmental standards gives Redeem a competitive advantage in the marketplace, allowing partners the peace of mind that they are working with a truly environmentally-responsible company.

In addition to positive environmental impacts, Redeem’s charity, Recycling Appeals, allows the public an opportunity to raise funds for deserving causes. Consumers can donate their phones and cartridges, with the chosen charity being paid by Redeem for items received. To date, over £2 million has been raised for good causes. As a service that offers both green and social benefits, the collection programmes have benefited from the rise in awareness of sustainability, social responsibility and ethical consumerism.

Redeem’s turnover has progressed from £500,000 in 1999 to over £4,500,000 in 2006, with substantial growth in the last two financial periods, highlighting that green business is big business.

Jamie Rae, Chief Executive, Redeem plc, says, ‘Positive environmental impacts are a welcome by-product of our core business; however, as a truly socially-responsible company, we are committed to building eco-friendliness into every aspect of our operations. Our strong environmental credentials are testament to the fact that we act as loudly as we speak and, as we grow, so too do our actions. Redeem’s dynamic environmental management system ensures our continuous improvement and has resulted in significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions among other accomplishments. Producing an EMAS Environmental Statement is a means for us to communicate to all interested parties our commitment to minimising our ecological footprint and our achievements in this area.’