What does sustainability mean to you and your company? That is one of the questions we asked Raffaele D'Alisa from the Blackmores group. Here’s what he shared with us.
"When my children are my age, we will need three planets to meet our collective resource requirements."
What is sustainability to you and your company?
Blackmores was founded by a naturopath who understood that you could not have healthy people without a healthy planet. We continue to have a vision for a world where people and nature thrive together. We know that to have a legitimate and purpose-driven role in our community, sustainability and corporate citizenship needs to be ingrained into how we do business.
There’s a traditional view of sustainability as energy, waste and water management and recyclable packaging. But being genuinely sustainable extends to the partnerships with our suppliers, our customers, our consumers, and our employees and truly understanding our impact on people and our natural world.
For me personally, I’m driven by the knowledge that when my children are my age, we will need three planets to meet our collective resource requirements, so we need to start changing now if we’re going to secure their future.
What actions are you taking to ensure ethical and sustainable practices?
Blackmores Group has committed to net zero emissions by 2030. We have started by transitioning to renewable sources of energy and deploying a series of efficiency projects. We have a current focus on deepening our understanding of our supply chains and partnering with suppliers to measure and manage the elements that matter to our sustainable development; this started with assessing and addressing human rights risks in our supply chain. We’re working to understand the resilience of our ingredients and our operations to the impacts of climate change. We have started to scope what biodiversity loss could mean to future access to natural medicines. These issues focus on our engagement with our suppliers, where we are building awareness, diagnosing risks, and identifying short and longer-term solutions that provide win-win outcomes. Our view is that we need to have an evidence-based understanding of our precious natural ingredients and to take a solid position to ensure they are protected for future generations.
What has the public asked for in this regard?
Consumers are very focused on companies taking responsibility for their impact. Giving greater transparency about our products and their packaging will become increasingly important. What have been the challenges along the way? Progressing truly sustainable packaging is a fundamental challenge for us to address. We are aware that there is an intention for brands and manufacturers to take greater responsibility for the materials they use and expect regulation to evolve in the coming years. We are supportive of the focus on the delivery of the national packaging targets. We are working towards our own complementary sustainable packaging targets. But as therapeutic goods, it’s important not to lose focus on the protection of shelf life and product quality. We know that addressing packaging challenges means solving the right problem, not moving the issue to a different part of the value chain.
It’s essential to do better now and be part of the systemic change that all consumer products will need to consider as we push towards a circular economy. Our packaging footprint is not limited to our bottles and containers, and B2B is about 40% of the total packaging mass put on the market. Hence, it is all aspects of the packaging ecosystem that we need to be mindful of. In support of both Modern Slavery mitigation, climate resilience and ethical sourcing, the lack of transparency in the extended supply chain remains a challenge faced not only by Blackmores but our industry as a whole.
Our approach includes both contract-driven engagements and building these issues into the supplier relationship over the medium term to encourage the sharing of information and partnering in response.
What has been relatively easy?
We have been inspired by the support we’ve had from our team, our suppliers and from other companies who share our commitment to sustainability. We were concerned that the global pandemic would harm our sustainability progress. Still, interestingly there is a growing understanding of the importance of addressing our most significant global challenges. We’ve seen the benefits of being guided by science and taking responsibility for our impact through the COVID crisis, so mitigating our climate impacts seems more achievable than ever before.
Will being sustainable cost more for the consumer?
It’s misguided to believe that being sustainable costs more when it drives value through more efficient operations and more substantial corporate credibility and trust. There will be a higher cost in not addressing sustainability in the long term than investing in the right programs in the short term.
What advances do you see in the future?
We’re excited to see an intention to transform recycling systems and supporting markets for developing recycled content for packaging. We expect to see a convergence of consumer trends and sustainability solutions for carbon sequestration – for example, plant-based diets. We see rapid transformation in energy markets which is supporting our transition to renewables. There is going to be a stronger dialogue about climate change resilience and biodiversity impacts, and that will lead to change