A thirst for sustainability? Innocent Drinks' recipe for a carbon-zero smoothie

rethink sustainability

A thirst for sustainability? Innocent Drinks' recipe for a carbon-zero smoothie

Rozanne Davis, Head of Sustainability & Nutrition, Innocent Drinks, takes us on the brand’s sustainability journey. Adaptability, responsibility and a strong sense of community are key drivers of their success. In the face of an unexpected pandemic and uncertainty, the brand continues to adapt their business model to meet their consumers’ changing needs.

At Lombard Odier, we believe we need to move towards an economic model that is Circular, Lean, Inclusive and Clean (CLIC). We are convinced that companies, who are at the forefront of such change and continue to adapt their business models in pursuit of a sustainable future, will not only survive but thrive.

Read how a small entrepreneurial business became one of the most valued B Corp1 certified brands. At Lombard Odier, we are proud to be part of the B Corp movement, one that makes business a force for good.

We are convinced that companies, who are at the forefront of such change and continue to adapt their business models in pursuit of a sustainable future, will not only survive but thrive

Innocent went from a small entrepreneurial business to being the fastest-growing juice brand in Europe with nearly half a billion pounds of annual revenue2. How did you manage to grow sustainably

Creating healthy products in a responsible and sustainable way needs a number of critical elements to be delivered successfully. This is what we call ‘becoming good all round’. We’ve focused on sourcing our ingredients responsibly, using our own “boots on the ground” team visiting all countries we source from, walking in the fields with our suppliers and understanding their reality. In November 2019, we made the accelerated commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030. As part of that journey, we’re making a significant investment to build a carbon zero blending and bottling site. We will have pioneering processes that reduce water usage. And we are aiming at BREAM and WELL Gold certifications.

In November 2019, we made the accelerated commitment to be carbon neutral by 2030. As part of that journey, we’re making a significant investment to build a carbon zero blending and bottling site

Also, since 1999, we’ve committed to giving 10% of our annual profits to charity. As of today, we’ve given £10 million to our innocent foundation (whose mission is to help the world’s hungry) and £5 million to regional charities, for example charities that support the aged through our Big Knit campaign (every bottle sold with a knitted hat on raises 25p for senior citizen's charity Age UK).

Can you tell us more about your decarbonisation journey? How do you plan to get there?

We joined a community of more than 500 B Corps to announce our commitment to being carbon neutral by 2030 at the December COP 25 in Madrid. We’ll tackle this in two ways.

Our offices are already carbon neutral. Other areas that will be part of [carbon] reduction include packaging, bottling, logistics and farming

Firstly, by reducing our own emissions across our whole business and value chain. Our offices are already carbon neutral. Other areas that will be part of reduction include packaging (light weighting and using more recycled material), bottling (encouraging all our bottling partners to use renewable energy), logistics (alternative fuel vehicles – electric and compressed natural gas), and farming (working with our farmers to explore ways of lower carbon farming).

Secondly, we will balance the rest of our emissions using a gold standard offsetting partner, and offsetting in a way that can invite others to join us.
 

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Did COVID-19 affect your sustainability journey?

If there was ever a time to accelerate on sustainability it’s now! We’ve continued to look ahead and challenge our ambition – to the extent that just last week, we signed off, with our board, the next phase of our sustainability strategy looking to 2023 and beyond. We’ll be sharing our tangible targets soon.

If there was ever a time to accelerate on sustainability it’s now!

Working with many suppliers, inside and outside the UK, how do you stay sustainable?

We do this by spending time with our suppliers and walking the fields, so we can truly understand their local context. For example, we wanted to help our farmers grow their mangoes as sustainably as possible. To do this, we worked closely with our suppliers to implement a program that focused on the key challenges mango farmers face. After several years of visiting and talking to our farmers, we were able to implement the FSA (Farm Sustainability Assessment)3 standard at scale. This resulted in a 48% increase in their yield in comparison to conventional farming and an 80% reduction in chemical costs. With better working conditions on farms, like toilets and waste chemical container collections, farmers are also finding pickers more easily during harvest time.


With the global food disruption of COVID-19, how did you manage to maintain your supply chain?  

Our partners in our supply chain, and in retail, have performed heroically. We feel fortunate that we are less badly affected as a business than many, whilst our sales are down materially, we are selling healthy products mainly sold through grocery channels, which affords us a level of protection that others don't have. 

…we are selling healthy products mainly sold through grocery channels, which affords us a level of protection that others don't have

How do you address the use of plastic in your products?

Two major issues facing the world today are climate change and plastic pollution. The good news is that there is a way to tackle both of these issues together. And we’ve been working on this since 2003 by building a circular economy.

All our drinks bottles and cans are 100% recyclable. The plastic we use in our drinks bottles is 100% recyclable, lightweight and robust. From a climate perspective, plastic has a much lower carbon footprint than, for example, glass, which would increase our carbon footprint overnight.

We also work with the industry to advocate for better recycling systems and well-designed deposit return schemes, for example the UK Plastics Pact. Being transparent, we know that the recycling infrastructures, in a lot of areas in Europe, are completely broken. So we work with like-minded partners to fix this recycling system by tackling the management of plastic pollution.

We’ve been working on this since 2003 by building a circular economy. All our drinks bottles and cans are 100% recyclable

What can we expect from a post-COVID Innocent?

The response to COVID-19 shone a light on what a creative bunch we have at Innocent – everyone responded with agility and determination – and generosity.  One of our values is generosity and we are proud that, between Innocent and our foundation, we will be able to give at least €1million to support people directly affected by this crisis, mainly through our existing relationships with Age Concern charities across Europe.


What do you do in your life to reduce your carbon footprint and be more sustainable?

I think for me it’s trying to embrace this philosophy of everybody doing their bit. I’m really committed to recycling. If I’m in a city and I buy something and I can’t see a recycling bin, I keep it with me, even if that means it’ll be in my suitcase for a couple of days. I have almost an aversion of not being able to recycle something. Also being conscious about travel. It’s all about finding a balance between taking an entire day to travel by train and taking the easy solution of flying. Also, my latest mission I’ve set for myself, is to reduce my food waste. It’s a challenge and I’m not there yet.


1 B Corp is a certification of a company’s environmental and social performance and governance, delivered by the nonprofit organisation B Lab. Lombard Odier was certified in 2019.
2 Innocent annual revenue in 2019 was £431.8million
3 https://saiplatform.org/fsa/

 

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