What is your Sustainability Policy?

By Stuart Gates
Published 8th July 2020

Consumers, retailers and producers are all aware these days that we have a need to protect our environment and to shop, stock and produce in way that respects that. To that end it is essential that producers should establish a Sustainability Policy, however brief, that can be shared with staff and customers alike. So, what are the main areas to consider when creating your Sustainability Policy?

Packaging

The immediate area that would need addressing is product packaging. Sustainability should be a consideration when making decisions on packaging. There may, or may not be, some cost implications, for example if you use glass (recyclable) versus plastics (not always recyclable).

Unfortunately, plastic is sometimes a necessary evil, but keep its use to a minimum and consider if its benefits outweigh the long-term negatives.

Unfortunately, plastic is sometimes a necessary evil as it is still the most accepted method of keeping food safe, but the advice is to keep to plastic use to a minimum and consider if its benefits outweigh the long-term negatives. There are now plenty of companies that make alternatives to plastic but check if they are suitable, for example, can they be sealed securely or that they not decompose before food is sold / used (Best Before date).

Ingredients

The other area to consider is the sourcing of your ingredients and that you have checked the best, traceable, supply route that you can have. Artisan products can successfully compete with their quality ingredients and a care in production against mass-produced products, all of which allows for their higher price points.

List your positives

Your Sustainability Policy can be very general in nature, but should highlight any positives your business makes, or plans to make, such as;

the list needs to be practical and achievable, your consumers and staff will appreciate all positive actions.

Many of your customers or potential store buyers will want to see you have considered sustainability at the different stages of interaction with your business; on your website, a note on your price list, on email or marketing materials etc. In addition, have updated copies of your Sustainability Policy ready to handout at meetings. If you are attending or pitching to a buyer/retailer check their Sustainability Policy before the meeting and see if you meet their sustainable criteria. If your business or product does not, then decisions to be made quickly how to address that.

There is a lot of free information about sustainability on the internet now so take time to check trends, read up on new legislation and download catalogues for future reference. Establishing a Sustainability Policy is almost a given now and while it may now not be an added bonus over rivals to have one, getting it wrong or not having one could trip you up.

Illustration: Ailbhe Phelan
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