Examples: Sustainability in Consumer Business

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Examples: Sustainability in Consumer Business

Key Takeaways

  • Mattel has launched lines of toy products that are made of bio-based (plant-based) plastic.
  • Blue Apron developed frozen gel packs for their meal kit deliveries made of a gel that can be safely drained down a sink and its plastic container recycled.
  • Everlane has used over 34,000 lbs of regenerated nylon waste to develop their swimwear collection. Every swimsuit is 82% ECONYL yarn. This yarn is 100% made from regenerated nylon fibers retrieved from nylon waste that would otherwise cause pollution, including fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpet flooring, and industrial plastic.

Introduction

This report provides a list of 10 widely known consumer businesses and brands that have implemented the use of sustainable materials and practices.

Consumer Businesses & Brands: Examples of Sustainability

1: Mattel

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: Mattel is one of the largest toy companies in the world. Mattel is a household name with a revenue of $4.5 billion. The company owns numerous famous toy brands including Barbie, UNO, Fisher-Price, American Girl, and Hot Wheels.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: As of 2021, the company was using 97.9% recycled or FSC-certified content for wood fibers and paper used in their products and packaging. The company's Fisher-Price brand has launched a line of block toys for babies made of bio-based plastics that are also packaged using 100% recycled or sustainably sourced material. The company's Mega Blocks brand has also launched a line of building blocks products that adhere to this same criteria.

2: Casper

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: Casper sells a line of award-winning mattresses, sheets, and related products. The company's website receives 2.6 million visitors per month. A consumer awareness survey found that 31% of respondents were aware of the brand, unaided.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: All of the foams used in Casper mattresses are CertiPUR-US® certified; this means the foams are free from ozone depleters, PBDE flame retardants, mercury, lead and other heavy metals, formaldehyde, regulated phthalates, have a low level of volatile organic compound emissions (Low VOC).

3: Blue Apron

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: Blue Apron is a meal kit delivery service. Blue Apron As of Q1 2021, Blue Apron report they have 391,000 customers.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: According to the company's website, as of 2019, Blue Apron is the "first major meal kit company in the United States to use only drain saf frozen gel packs in all of [their] boxes." The gel packs were developed in partnership with Nordic Ice to replace the polymer gel pack the company was previously using. The drain-safe frozen gel packs won a DOW Packaging Innovation Award. The packs allow consumers to safely drain them in their kitchen sink and recycle the plastic.

4: Hint

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: Hint is a brand of bottled, flavored water that is sold in over 30,000 stores in the U.S. The brand has been featured in major media outlets including SELF Magazine, People Magazine, Forbes, Health, and CNN.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: Hint makes its bottles from fully recyclable PET plastic, which is free from BPAs and plasticizer chemicals. Additionally, the company now uses caps made with a single material that can be recycled, switching away from non-recyclable caps made with multiple materials. The company has also started making its bottles right at the bottling site to avoid having to transport them by truck from extraneous facilities. Since 2007, the company has reduced the amount of plastic they use in their bottles by 24% and expects to reach a total reduction of 40% within the next year.

5: Bose

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: Bose develops innovative entertainment equipment, home audio equipment, and other types of consumer technologies. The company is widely known, with 1.2 million followers on Instagram alone.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: Bose runs a rigorous company program that works to refurbish their old products, which have been used and returned by customers, and sell them on their website at a discounted price. The program is designed to bring value to customers, reduce landfill waste, and extend the usable life of its products. According to the company, the program has been extended to 45 Bose products thus far and each product comes with a warranty. Additionally, the company has launched a Voluntary Substance Removal program, which proactively works to identify and remove substances from their products that are a cause for concern. In 2020, the company eliminated Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Halogenated Flame Retardants (HFRs) from the exteriors of their new products.

6: Brilliant Earth

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: Brilliant Earth makes engagement rings and other types of jewelry and is the leading brand of ethically sourced fine jewelry in the world. The company is widely recognized, with 6.5 million website visitors per month.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: 93% of the gold and 99.8% of the silver that Brilliant Earth uses comes from recycled sources. The company is continually striving to increase these figures.

7: Pilot

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: Pilot is a leading manufacturer of writing utensils in the U.S. The company's European factory alone produces 40 million pens annually. The company's U.S. website alone receives close to 50,000 visitors per month.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: Pilot has launched its BeGreen line of pens. According to the company's website, "BeGreen pens from Pilot are the world's first full-line of earth-friendly writing instruments made from [at least] 70% recycled materials." The product line includes liquid ink roller ball pens, gel ink pens, ballpoint pens, mechanical pens and retractable pens, along with permanent and dry erase ink markers. BeGreen packaging is also made from recycled board and pens cost equal to or less than traditional pens.

8: Everlane

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: Everlane is a clothing designer and manufacturer operating in the ecommerce, D2C market. The brand has become widely known since it was founded in 2010, receiving over 4.3 million website visitors per month.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: Everlane has used over 34,000 lbs of regenerated nylon waste to develop its swimwear collection. Every swimsuit is 82% ECONYL yarn. This yarn is 100% made from regenerated nylon fibers retrieved from nylon waste that would otherwise cause pollution, including fishing nets, fabric scraps, carpet flooring, and industrial plastic. The fiber waste used to make the yarn is sourced from various parts of the world.

9: Puma

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: Puma designs innovative athletic footwear and apparel. Puma is widely known, with a presence in over 120 countries.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: As of 2019, 80% of the cotton Puma uses came from sustainable sources. Additionally, almost all of the polyester and leather used in their apparel and footwear comes from sustainable sources. For example, as of 2019, 98% of the leather the company uses comes from "a tannery which was awarded a medal rating (gold, silver or bronze) by the Leather Working Group. The Leather Working Group seeks to improve the leather manufacturing industry by aligning environmental priorities, bringing visibility to best practices, and providing guidelines for continual improvement." The company's goal is to have 100% of its cotton, polyester, leather, down feathers, paper, and cardboard sourced from more sustainable sources by 2025.

10: General Mills

  • Link to website: here.
  • About this Company: General Mills is a food company that operates 100 brands across 100 counties. Some of their notable brands include Betty Crocker, Annie's, Blue Buffalo, Cheerios, and Gardetto's.
  • Sustainable Material/Practice: 100% of the fiber packaging General Mills uses is either 1) recycled material or 2) made from virgin wood fibers sourced from regions where the risk of deforestation is demonstrably low. These efforts have resulted in 99% of the company's total packaging supply that has a low risk of contributing to deforestation. The other 1% is sourced from suppliers that have a Forest Stewardship Council Mix certification or higher.

Research Strategy

To conduct this research, we began by analyzing lists of major (i.e. well known) consumer-facing companies. For example, this one published by Consumer Goods Technology. We then examined their reported sustainability practices via their company websites and sustainability reports, such as this one published by General Mills. In doing so, we focused on identifying those that have been making sustainability improvements with regard to the materials they use. For example, we looked at companies using innovative types of eco-friendly plastic, those increasing their use of recycled materials, etc. In doing so, we looked at companies from a range of different verticals, such as food, toys, clothing, office supplies, and homewares. For each company, we used their official company websites, LinkedIn profile, or Crunchbase profile to obtain a summary of what the company does. We then used consumer awareness surveys, financial data, geographic footprint data, website analytics from SimilarWeb, and/or social media follower counts (depending on what was most readily available and applicable to a given company) to serve as evidence that the companies are large and widely known.

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