“When the pandemic hit, the demand for our coffee product at home exploded”, explains David Abrahamovitch, the Founder and CEO of Grind, a coffee company based in London.
Abrahamovitch goes on to say: “with sustainability at the heart of Grind’s ethos, from bean to brew, every single order is delivered carbon-positive and its coffee is only sourced from sustainable farms across the world at better-than-Fairtrade prices”.
Grind’s business model pivoted in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown to become a direct-to-consumer, sustainable coffee seller.
Their coffee pods are unlike harmful, non-recyclable alternatives because every single pod is completely organic and biodegradable. The pods are 100% plastic free and Grind’s new pods are the first and only in the UK to be certified as home compostable, which takes their green credentials to another level.
Abrahamovitch explains “Plastic and aluminium pods take hundreds of years to break down. In your home compost, ours will break down quicker then grass cuttings, or can be placed in your food waste bin. If worst comes to the worst and Grind’s pods do make their way into landfill or even the ocean, our pods will still break down in these ambient environments”.
It’s clear that sustainability needs to be for the entire life cycle of a product, not just a PR stunt. The whole product, not just the packaging, must be sustainable and that cycle needs to be transparent and clear to consumers.
Product businesses know that sustainability is no longer something to be “interested” in but an essential part of any business plan. As the saying goes, if you don’t “go green, you go red”.
The pitfalls of greenwashing
Yet many larger retail brands are often accused of getting it wrong. The fashion industry is a prime example – ‘greenwashing’ has long been a concern of consumers and rightly so.
The Institute of Marketing in the UK published research last year, which looked at the views of 2,000 UK consumers, they found that 63% believe that many brands only get involved with sustainability for commercial reasons, as opposed to ethical reasons.
Smoothie giant Innocent was perhaps one of the more high profile examples of being called out when it’s advert, which encouraged customers to “get fixing up the planet” by choosing its drinks, was banned for exaggerating the environmental benefits of the products.
And it’s not just consumers – the challenges around becoming more sustainable was a focus of more research from The Institute of Marketing in the UK, which surveyed over 200 marketing professionals in the UK last year, revealing that half (49%) are wary of working on sustainability campaigns due to the fear of being accused of ‘greenwashing’.
So with consumers and those selling the brand being apprehensive about retailer’s green credentials, what does it take to convince customers that they are authentic in their eco claims?
In the case of Grind, they have successfully navigated how to be truly sustainable for their product by understanding and committing to it fully. With the new capsules, they took the time to understand the customer’s concerns around how the product was disposed of, and to work with them to understand the complexities of claiming to be “compostable”.
For example, many products that claim to be compostable can only be processed in an industrial composting facility, that can confuse customers who are trying to grapple with the complexities of living more sustainably.
In creating a home-compostable product, and by being transparent with the customer throughout their supply chain, Grind have brought the customer with them on their sustainability journey.