Introduction: In this guest column, Rituals Global Travel Retail Director Melvin Broekaart looks at Rituals’ sustainability journey, its recent B Corp certification and its commitment to reaching Net Zero by 2050.
Broekaart also highlights the importance of authenticity and bringing travellers into travel retail’s sustainable transformation. It won’t be easy, but as he says, “while being green is rarely the easy option, it’s always the right one.”
Seeing sustainability rise up the travel retail agenda and witnessing how strongly it has been championed by many, has been one of the most positive trends in our industry. As part of a wider travel industry that is under the spotlight when it comes to sustainability and the reduction of carbon footprints, there can be no denying that in our part of this ecosystem.
Particularly encouraging, has been the number of retailers looking to promote sustainable options and assortments to travellers. Whether that is Aelia Duty Free’s ‘eco-responsible’ store at Geneva, or Heinemann’s sustainability concept Future Friendly: Great for you. Better for the planet.
However, to use a metaphor plucked from our world of travel, sustainability is not a destination – it’s a journey of constant improvement. Of course, that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate progress and important milestones, but there is always more that can be done. This isn’t a box-ticking exercise, but a fundamental pillar of our value proposition to consumers. One that can help safeguard the industry’s (as well as our planet’s) long-term future.
Back in January, when we announced our B Corp certification, it felt like the culmination of a huge amount of effort across our business. While it was indeed a significant moment for Rituals, it was just the beginning of a new chapter in our sustainability journey. Not content with becoming one of the first few brands in travel retail to gain B Corp status, we also just released our annual Sustainability Report, showcasing our ambitious sustainability roadmap.
Headlining our ambitions is a public commitment to joining the Net-Zero pathway. Our aim is to reach Net-Zero by 2050 and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by -50% per product sold by 2030. These concrete goals have been made in line with the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) and the Paris Agreement.
This comes on the back of some significant progress made by our business over the last few years to reduce its carbon footprint:
- With over 20% of sales coming from refillable products and corresponding refills, over 4.5 million kg CO2-eq emissions have been avoided.
- We saved over 397,598 kg of virgin plastic by introducing recycled plastics for most of our PET packaging and reduced the can weight of the iconic shower foam by nearly -10%.
- Within two years, nearly 80% of product formulas in scope transitioned to at least 90% natural origin ingredients.
- All our stores have moved to green electricity contracts and installed energy-saving appliances.
Moreover, we are demonstrating our continued support for initiatives that preserve and restore natural ecosystems while aiming to improve people’s livelihoods. In doing so, Rituals has committed to growing a tree for every refill sold, aiming for 5 million trees by the end of 2022. Together with trusted environmental partners, this project supports the planting, protecting, and restoring of mangroves in India and Kenya. Throughout the year, Rituals will be partnering up with additional organisations to support our reforestation initiatives.
Clearly, environmental responsibility is something very close to our hearts at Rituals. While it is crucial for our planet, I personally believe it is also vital for the long-term viability of our channel that we prioritise sustainable practices.
Consumers are becoming savvier and authenticity is becoming even more crucial for brands. If shoppers aren’t being given every opportunity to make clean purchases or feel that brands are greenwashing, they will vote with their feet and wallets.
It is up to us as an industry to not only provide sustainable product choices, but to involve consumers in the process by supporting sustainable initiatives and signposting sustainability in-store to clearly communicate that this is a priority for travel retail. From our perspective, we are waiting for the first B Corp store to open in travel retail, and we hope that our own commitment and journey will inspire others to tackle the challenge.
With the industry returning to TFWA Conference & Exhibition in Cannes in a few weeks, sustainability is bound to be one of the key themes. We’re delighted to have Rituals CEO Raymond taking part in the opening keynote session where he will be sharing his thoughts and experiences on a range of topics, including sustainability and our B Corp journey.
The unifying thread of Raymond’s presentation will be the idea of escaping our comfort zones to adapt to new consumer expectations: I think this is such a universally important message. The sustainability journey can be challenging and I’m sure Raymond will be very frank with TFWA delegates about many of the challenges we have faced ourselves as a business.
However, it is so important that we don’t rest on our laurels but keep improving and reassessing business practices. What might be considered sustainable now, might not be in the future, so it is crucial that we stay on top of current research and remain flexible and adaptable along the way.
The simple fact is, that while being green is rarely the easy option, it’s always the right one.
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