Andrew Jenkins, Sustainability Transformation & Innovation Manager, explained why Boots UK is taking a keen interest in meeting rising consumer demand for sustainability, and wants to lead from the front. This is part 1 of the interview; discover part 2 here.
Jenkins spoke to us on sustainability ahead of her presentation on the topic at this year’s European Sustainable Cosmetics Summit, organised by Ecovia Intelligence in Paris in November.
How important is establishing sustainability across its supply chain for Boots? Why?
We create and supply thousands of products and have a presence in most communities across the UK. So it’s crucial we understand both the social and environmental impact of our business, in order to help ensure a sustainable future.
Every single product will have different environmental and ethical impacts at different stages of the supply chain – from concept and design through to sourcing materials, customer use and final disposal, and our customers trust us to make sure the products they buy are sourced responsibly and ethically.
That’s why we’ve made it our priority to ensure that all Boots brand or Boots exclusive products are produced by suppliers who treat their workers fairly and show a responsible attitude to the environment.
What are the key challenges related to sustainability? How is Boots responding to these?
Operating sustainably in the marketplace starts with understanding where our products come from, holding our suppliers accountable for sourcing ethically and promoting human rights, and consistently engaging with external stakeholders to understand the most material issues facing our markets and industry.
Through our assessment process, we’ve identified three key areas that will guide our approach to marketplace sustainability:
- Transparency: To create a global process that enables transparency of ingredients and their traceability for the exclusive consumer retail product brands that we sell
- Ethical Sourcing: To continue to drive ethical sourcing practices, protecting human rights across our supply chain
- External Stakeholders: To work collaboratively with a global network of key external organizations engaging in issues that carry the greatest social relevance to the markets and in the communities we serve
Why are consumers becoming ever-more interested in green credentials, particularly in personal care?
Consumers now are far more engaged in the major issues facing society and consumers increasingly feel that they have to make choices themselves about how products meet their values and the lifestyle they want to lead.
As personal care products tend to be an intimate purchase, issues such as knowing what materials are in products, how and where they are produced, how they affect the body and what happens to waste tend to assume greater importance.
This concern is often used by campaigners and the media to highlight a wider issue: for example microplastic pollution in oceans derives from a wide range of sources of which cosmetic products represent a small proportion. However the focus of attention has been on plastic microbeads in rinse off cosmetics.
In February 2014, in light of the increased evidence that indicated that plastic microbeads had a negative impact on marine life, we took the decision to remove plastic microbeads from all Boots Brands and exclusive products which were then reformulated.
We have also been working with our suppliers, many of whom have already committed to phase out plastic microbeads, and we have pledged to no longer accept products which contain plastic microbeads from the end of 2017.