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📰 Recent green news

  • 8 August: Greta Thunberg has withdrawn from the Edinburgh International Book Festival, prompted by its sponsorship by a major oil company.
    • The why: Thunberg's decision highlights the complex interplay between environmental activism and corporate sponsorships, underscoring ethical concerns and contributing to discussions on greenwashing and genuine sustainability efforts.
  • 10 August: IKEA has introduced a plant-based version of its iconic hot dog at a more affordable price, aligning with its sustainability goals and catering to the increasing demand for plant-based food options.
    • Put this in conversation with: PENNY’s ‘true cost’ campaign (as discussed in our Newsletter #4), from which conversations emerged about enhancing the appeal of plant-based food options to customers due to their lower environmental impact.
    • The why: In tandem with that campaign, IKEA's action underscores a concrete shift toward sustainable and environmentally conscious practices in the food industry, aligning with heightened consumer demands for ethical and eco-friendly options
  • 11 August: The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is taking legal action against Active Super, a pension fund, for allegedly making false or misleading claims about being a climate-friendly investment option.
    • The why: This development highlights broader concerns regarding the accuracy of green claims and compliance in sustainable investments, contributing to the ongoing discourse on greenwashing's implications.
  • 11 August: Sainsbury's supermarket chain is replacing plastic trays with cardboard for its "By Sainsbury's" brand steaks, resulting in the elimination of over 10 million pieces of plastic annually.
    • The why: This packaging shift exemplifies a major supermarket's proactive approach to curbing plastic waste, in line with rising consumer expectations for sustainability and emphasising businesses' role in tackling environmental issues.

🔍 Deep dive

From Carbon Footprints to Nutri-Scores: Greenforce's Path to Transparent Labeling

1692087203532Nutri-Labels before & after. Screenshots Website Greenforce

The gist:

  • Greenforce, touted as a breakthrough innovation in the food industry, is facing intense scrutiny and criticism due to investigations into its claims. The company's plant-based meat substitutes, which are produced using powder technology and extrusion, have come under fire for possible inconsistencies related to claims of a low carbon footprint and high Nutri-Score ratings. 

    Greenforce is actively addressing these labeling concerns while facing more criticism over recycling claims, despite the company's position as a pioneer that focuses on environmental benefits.

The specifics:

  • Greenforce is promoting their methods as eco-friendly due to a claimed low carbon footprint. Nevertheless, it appears that there are inconsistencies in Greenforce's provided CO2 emissions data, raising questions about their green claims.
  • Despite some products boasting high Nutri-Score ratings, third-party tests have discovered variations in actual nutritional content, suggesting potential discrepancies in health claims. Greenforce emphasizes comparative health benefits of its meat substitute, highlighting its product as calorie and fat-reduced compared to some competitors. Acknowledging past missteps, they've taken action to ensure their health-related statements align with regulations and are scientifically substantiated.
  • Greenforce advises disposing their plastic-coated paper packets in general waste, citing a "PE-Stream" processing. However, Hamburg's municipal cleaning service suggests otherwise, emphasizing the packaging should be placed in the recycling bin.

The why:

  • Sustainability is not just about producing eco-friendly products; it's about (sometimes uncomfortable) transparency, thereby building trust and ensuring ethical practices throughout the business cycle. While Greenforce has seemingly made strides in providing a sustainable meat alternative, they may need to introspect on their transparency, claims, and commitment to stakeholder and consumer trust.

For critical reflection:

  • While it's essential to scrutinize the claims of companies like Greenforce and hold them accountable, their efforts shouldn't be hastily dismissed as they contribute to diversifying the food industry.

An Outlook:

  • “I posed the question […] whether this actually results in damage to the company, or whether the (false) statements and the positively charged awareness associated with them do not clearly outweigh the damage. A study by the Nuremberg Institute for Market Decisions (NIM) clearly answers this question with 'It harms'.” @Philipp Wolf, Founder of Foodverse
  • Greenforce has a knack for turning criticism into opportunity. Their "Bestseller campaign" is a testament, flipping a negative narrative to drive brand recognition and boost sales. In light of the new reviews from "Flip" and "Zeit Online," one might expect another creative rethink from the company. This perseverance in the face of challenges is remarkable, and it remains to be seen how the company will deal with them again.

⚖️ Regulation explained

General Product Safety: Regulation (EU) 2023/988 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 10 May 2023

Effective from June 12, 2023, a recently enacted piece of regulation now imposes crucial safety prerequisites on consumer products introduced to the EU market, aiming to ensure their alignment with standards and reduce potential hazards for consumers.

To illustrate this further, imagine you have a role in producing, distributing, or recycling packaging within the EU market, let’s explore how the regulation's key aspects impact your operational landscape.

  1. Product safety standards: Consider you're a player in the EU market, involved in manufacturing, distributing, or recycling packaging. The EU General Product Safety Regulation now mandates that you meet specific safety standards to ensure the conformity and safety of your products.

  2. Risk assessment and labelling: If your packaging materials contain substances deemed hazardous to the environment or human health, such as potentially harmful chemicals, the directive necessitates conducting thorough risk assessments and providing accurate labelling to inform consumers.

  3. Recycling and waste management: Imagine you engage in recycling activities for packaging within the EU market. The regulation directs you to adhere to environmentally sound recycling practices, promoting the circular economy and reducing the environmental impact of waste.

  4. Traceability and reporting: Suppose you're a distributor of packaging materials across the EU. The regulation now requires you to maintain detailed records of your products' origins, destinations, and transactions, enabling effective traceability and facilitating rapid response in case of safety concerns.

  5. Cooperation and market surveillance: As a key player in the packaging industry, you're part of a network of businesses ensuring compliance with the regulation. Collaborative efforts are crucial to effective market surveillance, helping identify and address potential safety risks promptly.

  6. Enforcement and penalties: Just like the member states enforce license requirements in the example, the EU General Product Safety Regulation establishes mechanisms for enforcing compliance with safety standards and imposing proportionate penalties for any violations, underscoring the commitment to safeguarding consumer interests.

Among the core provisions of the directive, an encompassing framework is set forth to ensure transparent product safety practices, spanning across the EU market and promoting rigorous safety standards to safeguard consumer interests and bolster trust in the supply chain.

That is all we have for now. Thank you for reading 🙌 Share this issue with others and subscribe for more insights about product compliance and sustainability.

I lead the business side at House of Change, where my team and I are on a mission to build the Product Compliance Copilot™, Prior to launching House of Change in 2022, I served as a managing director at Best Nights VC (Jägermeister), learned about startegy & impact at McKinsey, and spent time selling toothpaste at Colgate-Palmolive. When I'm not at my desk, you can find me cycling through Europe on my touring bike or trying to inspire men to embrace yoga through herrenyoga (https://www.instagram.com/herrenyoga)