Issue No.03 — Sustainability

01 of 05
March 2021

Spotlight Issue No.3

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When football teams start making kits out of coffee waste, it’s clear that sustainability has reached a new level of consciousness.

And while COVID-19 has had a mixed impact on the environment, the pandemic has accelerated public interest in the active measures companies are taking to be more sustainable.

From a commercial point-of-view, tackling environmental challenges should be a priority for all businesses; Emmanuel Faber, the CEO of Danone underlines, “For us, climate is not an externality. It’s part of the resilience of our business, so addressing it is not a question of philanthropy – it’s a question of smart business.”

WARC also highlights that between 2015 and 2019, conventionally marketed products had a CAGR of just 0.83% compared to 5.86% for sustainability-marketed products.

However, with the majority of people already feeling overwhelmed by corporate sustainability claims, it is crucial brand communications are legitimate, distinct and backed up with real action behind the scenes.


Regenerative Fund for Nature - courtesy of Kering


The fashion industry has long battled with sustainability. Responsible for more energy consumption than aviation and shipping combined: the production and use of a single pair of jeans is the same as driving a car for 69 miles and requires about 10 years’ worth of drinking water for one person.

Growing concern of this impact is sparking innovation from the supply-chain to material design.

Also developing behind the scenes is sustainable financing. A strategy increasingly adopted by luxury fashion brands like Prada, keen to link their financial and sustainability goals to encourage better outcomes.

“What gets measured gets done […] Business as usual carbon reduction is no longer enough to address climate risks.” says Ellie Tang, Head of Sustainability at New World Development.

With JP Morgan announcing ‘2021 the year of sustainability-linked bonds’ these internal initiatives will be a serious demonstration of the industry’s commitment to the climate crisis that should be carefully communicated alongside externally facing actions.


Prada Re-Nylon - courtesy of Prada


The urgent need to reduce our impact on the planet is inspiring designers to re-think production, product and packaging concepts entirely.

Packaging often receives the most attention with the shift to more sustainable mixed paper and plastic solutions now adopted by household names such as L'Oréal.

Going further, designers such as Steinarsdóttir are experimenting with unwanted industry by-products such as leftover meat to create products and packaging that leave zero waste.

Less challenging is Grown’s carbon-negative mycelium packaging for Amen’s sustainable candles. An idea that Grown founder Jan Berbee hopes will revolutionise the luxury packaging market.

Looking to production, US start-up Bespoken Spirits has created a sustainable maturation process that uses new technology to lower energy and material use, potentially saving the drinks industry $20 billion, while preserving quality and taste.

With growing propensity to pay a premium for sustainable brands, it is vital businesses consider design holistically, to deliver rewards for both the company and the environment.


Steinarsdóttir's Bioplastic Skin - courtesy of V. Steinars

Alice Potts is a bio material innovator who transforms discarded food and plant waste into materials that can be used for dry moulding or weaving across different fashion systems – courtesy of MIMCO