Nøie will be CO2 negative and 100 percent circular

September 18, 2020

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Nøie has officially committed to becoming actively sustainable. Over the short-term, our goal is to remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than we emit. Over the long-term, we aim to be 100 percent circular in everything we do. These goals are not only our obligation to the planet: they’re also our promise to our community.

It’s clear that we’re living through a global climate crisis and that there’s an urgent need for action. It’s a fact that the globe is heating directly because of human activities. As a result, there’s a widespread shift taking place towards sustainable consumption and reducing CO2 emissions.

If the world hopes to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, 45 percent of the CO2 emission reductions we need must come from sustainable production methods. But simply reducing carbon dioxide is not enough: we must also actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

The skincare and cosmetics industry is, unfortunately, not among the frontrunners of positive change. For example, the industry consumes 146 million tons of plastic every year, and 91 percent of the world’s plastic doesn’t get recycled.

So, there’s a huge task ahead for the world’s companies and consumers. At Nøie, we are up for the challenge. We want to be an industry leader creating sustainable change which contributes to the greatest goal of all: reversing climate change.

That’s why our ambition is to be CO2 negative by 2021. Over the coming years, we will remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than we emit.

As for our long-term ambition, we aim to be 100 percent circular in everything we do. By this we mean that our ingredients are entirely traceable, that we only use recycled materials in our packaging and that we ensure our packaging is actually recycled after use.

Our approach is to be sustainable wherever we can and to motivate others to take the same initiative. By ‘others’, we mean our collaborators: suppliers, customers and counterparts in the industry.

Sustainability is a shared commitment — one that’s made easier through tangible actions.

Action in five areas

In order to realise our sustainability goals, we will take the lead in five areas.

1. Circular packaging

We will ensure that 90 percent of our packaging is based on recycled materials and 100 percent - all packaging - is recyclable. We will also ensure that all our wooden materials come from FSC-certified forestry. This not only includes all packaging but also all printed matter, including merchandise, labels, brochures, etc.

Right now, it isn’t possible to recycle a majority of skincare packaging because it’s often composed of several types of materials. This also applies to some of our packaging. And admittedly, that’s not good enough.

In the future, we will design our packaging to be fully recyclable. For example, we’ll use plastic materials such as PE, PP and PET as well as aluminium and paper items — all of which are very widespread and therefore easier to recycle. Where possible, we will design packaging based on a few materials or even a single one to minimise the type of material ‘mixing’ which actually makes recycling more difficult.

In addition, we’ll consciously reject using biomass and bioplastic. That’s because these materials suppress food production from the earth’s cultivated areas and because packaging made from biomaterial cannot be properly recycled through ordinary waste management systems. In fact, mixing these materials with other plastic often makes it non-recyclable.

The reason we don’t use 100 percent recycled materials across the board is that paper and cardboard can typically be recycled 5-7 times. That means that by the time we get our hands on these materials, they’ve probably been reused a few times — which isn’t ideal for durability. Thus, we need to strengthen these materials with new paper fibre — like in our shipping boxes, for example. With that said, we’re already making sure that most of the wood and paper mass we use is from FSC-certified forestry. This will apply to everything we produce in the future.

By using as many recycled materials as possible in our new packaging while ensuring it can be recycled all over again, we can reduce new material consumption and minimise waste at the same time.

2. Traceable ingredients

We will ensure that all of our ingredients are 100 percent traceable, from extraction to the finished product. We will be transparent about how the ingredients are produced and prove that they are sustainably extracted and made under proper working conditions. Moreover, our personalised products and minimalist approach to ingredients reduce waste.

Nøie’s products already minimise waste and overproduction because they are data-driven and individually customised. We save our customers from the ‘guessing game’ of picking a product in the skincare aisle, and we save the climate from overproduction due to wrong purchases that end up in the drawer or dustbin. That in itself is a sustainable approach.

We also save resource use through our minimalist approach. All of our ingredients are individually, scientifically and precisely selected from amongst thousands of possible choices. There is never more than what’s absolutely necessary in our products. We do not add ingredients because they are trendy or have a lovely fragrance: we only add ingredients that serve a function. And we always use the lowest possible concentration of ingredients we need to in order to make our products effective.

This minimises the risk of allergic reactions — and it minimises the consumption of resources.

Sustainability also has a social dimension. Our ingredients come from all over the world. Our company’s ambition is full traceability and transparency. We ensure that our ingredients are sustainably produced under proper working conditions.

On the other hand, we do not promise 100 percent organic products. When possible, we use organic ingredients – but we never compromise on either quality or safety. These aspects have to be met before we choose organic.

In fact, organic is not always the best choice when it comes to carbon footprint. There may be instances where processing organic ingredients is more resource-intensive than traditional processes, for example. Hence, we don’t just uncritically choose organic; instead, we always look at the big picture.

3. CO2-saving distribution

We will reduce our consumption of transport packaging by 50 percent per shipment, we will develop 100 percent recyclable shipping packaging and we will try to reduce our distributors’ CO2 footprints.

Durable packaging is a necessity. It enables our products to arrive in one piece at our customers’ homes. A damaged product is a wasted product.

Luckily, we can develop new packaging for shipping that’s in line with our business and climate goals. We can do this by using less materials for our packaging, using space more effectively, and thus transporting less air and less weight. We also expect to replace our stickers so they can be fully recycled together with the boxes.

We will also try to find distribution methods and distributors with the lowest possible CO2 footprints. Overall, we will reduce our carbon footprint which comes from both shipping and packaging.

4. Engaging voices

We will work on making recycling seem easy. The first step is integrating recyclability into our own products; next, we must inform, guide, encourage and influence our customers to become more diligent about sorting and recycling. We are also looking into 1:1 return programmes that can support a closed recycling circuit on packaging. This may be in collaboration with others.

Changes are created by people. If we want to be successful in reducing Nøie’s CO2 footprint, our customers and partners must join us. Even though many people (56 percent, according to a British survey) currently do not recycle packaging from personal care products, we believe that our customers would do so if we were to make it easier for them.

That’s why we’ll make it simple for them to figure out how to sort and recycle our products. We will encourage and inspire customers to do so directly on the packaging and via social media.

We are also in dialogue with local authorities to ensure we meet certain conditions or regulations necessary for recycling.

One extra initiative that we are also looking into is developing a 1:1 circular return programme where customers can return used packaging directly. This may be in collaboration with others, and it may be the first step to developing solutions for the industry as a whole. Far too much plastic packaging today is downcycled. A circular return programme will ensure that our packaging – and others’ packaging – actually gets recycled and used for new skincare products. We would like to share our knowledge in this particular field with others in the industry, too.

5. Investments in removing CO2

We can get far by transforming our production and distribution, but to meet the goal of having a negative CO2 footprint, we need to reach beyond ourselves. That’s why we’re imposing an internal CO2 tax in which we invest externally in initiatives that remove CO2 from the atmosphere. This way, we can take responsibility throughout the value chain.

Nøie is a growing company, so we can expect our total CO2 footprint to increase. That is unavoidable. But we are working determinedly to reduce the footprint per every unit we sell. And we want to go even further and have a negative CO2 footprint as a whole.

‘Negative CO2 footprint’ means that we will remove more CO2 than we emit. However, in practice, there will continue to be certain emissions coming from production and distribution. Accordingly, we will remove our emissions from other areas which, as a minimum, correspond to our existing unavoidable emission levels.

Thus, we promise to remove more CO2 annually than we emit. But how? By investing — primarily in the planting and restoration of forests that can absorb at least as much CO2 as we emit. But we could also invest in technology or other initiatives that can remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Another far-reaching initiative is taking responsibility for more than our own direct emissions, which only comprises a minor part of our overall CO2 footprint. We will also take responsibility for the typically larger emissions in our value chain — on the part of suppliers as well as buyers.

This forces us to collaborate closely with our partners to measure CO2 footprints and find ways to eliminate them. It is a comprehensive task. This will be new for many of our partners and generally, there is very little documentation and knowledge in this area.

However, we fundamentally believe that what gets measured gets managed. And we expect that by measuring and documenting, we can discover pollution ‘hot spots’ in the supply chain — spots in which we can reduce CO2. That’s where we’ll really make a difference.

Anchoring in the organisation

Nøie is not a CO2 neutral and sustainable company just yet. But every change begins by discovering that something is not as it should be, and with commitment and dedication. We have made this decision and we have anchored it in our management by introducing a CFO — Chief Footprint Officer.

We are ready to start working on the grand task ahead to reach our goal — even if it won’t necessarily be easy.

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