Case study: Sustainable soap from social enterprise CLARITY & Co. sets supply chain example
Proxima speaks with a company whose work emphasises the growing trend of procurement professionals looking not just for value, but also good ethical practice
Sustainable procurement by organisations of all descriptions is no longer a simple corporate social responsibility (CSR) tick box exercise. It has now become a central pillar of business strategy that can have a major influence on both reputation and the bottom line.
Founded in 1854 and today one of the UK’s foremost social enterprises, CLARITY & Co.’s core goal is to address and counter prejudicial perceptions of disability. Actually, it likes to say it is disrupting and changing views about just what people with disabilities and long-term health conditions are able to achieve in the workplace and in life. It doesn’t see disability, it sees workability.
CLARITY & Co.’s brands – its playful, ‘better-considered’ water saving BECO. Range, and its luxury bath and body brand The Soap Co. - are making real headway in the corporate and retail space. BECỌ. has gained listings in national retailers such as Waitrose, Sainsburys and Boots, and The Soap Co. is on the shelves of John Lewis & Partners, Selfridges and Fortnum & Mason.
Indeed, the sustainability ethos of The Soap Co. and BECO. brands is no less proactive or hard-hitting than CLARITY & Co.’s mission to close the disability employment gap. New product development for The Soap Co. and BECO. is focused on sourcing sustainably in all aspects of the manufacturing process - influencing the supply chain, business and consumers through their no-compromise example.
These products have also made their way into the washrooms of businesses and organisations UK-wide – including The Cabinet Office - via the facilities management cohort that rely on them. They strive to remain faithful to the principles of the Circular Economy, eliminating waste and pollution whenever and wherever possible.
Camilla Marcus-Dew, Head of Sustainable Growth at CLARITY & Co. says: “What we have discovered is that we are both creating and riding the wave for all things efficacious for the skin which are pro planet, too. It’s undeniable that a younger, more savvy - and concerned - demographic of procurement professionals are more than ready and willing to spend their budgets ethically, using their eco-conscience as a moral compass. They understand that total transparency in terms of ingredients and packaging are not optional these days – they are demanded by clients looking for – for example - the next super sustainable soap.”
'It’s undeniable that a younger, more savvy - and concerned - demographic of procurement professionals are more than ready and willing to spend their budgets ethically’
The Soap Co. and BECO. proudly carry the Planet Mark Sustainability certification, a powerful endorsement of efforts to reduce their carbon footprint year on year using clear metrics. In 2017, CLARITY & CO. reduced this footprint by 15% as it undertook a number of initiatives to do what it can, as effectively as it can.
All of The Soap Co. and BECO. bar soaps are boldly stamped with the Plastic Free Trust Mark from planet warriors, A Plastic Planet. The social enterprise is also developing a new range of infinitely recyclable aluminium bottles for its The Soap Co. range and it has an established Green Team – dedicated to disseminating clear ideas of how it as a workforce and organisation are tackling a host of relevant issues. It has, for example, turned its boiler down by 10%, switched to green energy that uses only sustainable energy sources, set up recycling stations, purchased only Forest Stewardship Council paper – and so on.
Clem Hinchliffe, Business Development Manager at CLARITY & Co. explains: “It has not been an easy journey - but the leading national distribution companies have started to question some of their more traditional relationships with suppliers looking to more forward-looking manufacturers driven by an eco-ethical outlook. And that trend is encouraged by many of the facilities management companies whose clients want to see products in place that are both good for the user and the planet. We are currently listed with Mayflower Washroom Solutions, Bunzl Cleaning and Hygiene Supplies, Jangro UK, Instock Group and Zepbrook. Five years ago, this simply would not have been possible.”
As CLARITY & Co. enters the corporate supply chain it is producing a giant ripple down effect. It’s an unbeatable combination, sustainably produced products that are good and that do good, signalling that CSR, if ignored, leaves businesses open to the reasonable charge of just not caring enough.
CLARITY & Co.’s BECO. foaming hand wash saves 88 litres of precious water and ii used by every UK household – let alone business - could create 45,000 new jobs. That is social and environmental impact in action, and if we have learnt anything, it is that any and all action to change things for the better is never – ever - wasted.
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Clarity & Co. is just one of the organisations that Proxima has interacted with when learning more about social value and related products, services and initiatives. For more information on Proxima’s view on social value as a key contributor to procurement and commercial strategy, read our other related articles.