Rachel Parsonage, Managing Director of KMI Brands, was recently named in LDC’s Top 50 Most Ambitious Business Leaders of 2019. Here she reveals the company’s five-year sustainability plan and advises how other businesses can follow suit.
“For 25 years KMI Brands has created, developed and marketed award winning beauty brands like Noughty Haircare, Ted Baker, Ted’s Grooming Room and Orla Kiely, and built a reputation on delivering innovative, performance-led products. How our brands continue to deliver world-class products whilst sourcing sustainably is a key driver in our five-year business plan.
Sustainability should be a focus for all businesses regardless of sector or industry. The enormity of what has to be done, to manufacture and produce more ethically, consume less and protect the planet may at times seem like an uphill task, however behaviours must change.
Businesses have to innovate, delight customers, ensure teams are enriched and motivated, drive sales, keep costs under control. I’m sure many businesses look and perceive sustainability to come burdened with additional costs and complexity. For me there is no debate, build a better footprint into your business plan and take that first step.
How to Take the First Step
Make a list of the things that your business does today. You’ll be surprised when you actually speak to your suppliers and your staff about the amount of activity that is currently going on to support and help a more sustainable world.
At KMI today we ensure that our folding box board is at least 98% FSC (Forest Stewardship Council which is a not-for-profit organisation promoting responsible management of the world’s forests).
Our formulations for Noughty Haircare use RSPO Palm Oil. This is a massively sensitive subject and researching the complexities of this must take into consideration a number of factors, a shift to RSPO certified Palm Oil is a start. It’s also important for the governments to take action as well, and ensuring through the supply chain, change is continually better for the planet.
Our vac forms are made with a percentage of PCR (post-consumer recycled) materials between 50 and 70%. Reusing waste and recycled materials is more readily available today.
An audit on our full packaging and materials by weight and material estimates that 80% of KMI‘s packaging is available to be recycled within the UK today.
The Next Step – where do you want to be?
Our current plan spans the next five years and we have broken this down into short term and longer-term goals. There are quick changes which we can instigate now alongside longer-term ambitions working with our suppliers. As with any business project this is part of sell it and share it. Make a plan, visualise the plan, share the plan with the team, have ambassadors in the business who champion the project and take ownership with you.
A few examples of the types of goals and ambitions we have set for ourselves:
- Use 100% FSC certified carton board and wraps rigid boxes by the end of 2020
- Bio Resins to be used wherever possible reducing fossil fuel usage in our packaging
- To reduce usage of PP plastic wherever possible. Targeting a move for Noughty Haircare to sustainable and recyclable sugarcane tubes by January 2021
- To find an alternative recyclable material to cellophane
- Reduce our own office waste
- Utilise higher level of sustainable materials in our new office in central London
Sharing goals with suppliers.
I feel incredibly grateful that KMI’s suppliers are keen to explore and push for change with us. Often the will of companies like ours to find alternatives is hindered by the availability and the lack of technological advancements within the sector. Let’s face this together and work to find solutions.
The more we share, demand and source together there will be an increase in readily available materials to support production of ethical, diverse materials, which have less impact on the planet.
Take that step together. ”