We know that promoting a cleaner, healthier world doesn’t stop at home but extends deep into the wider environment. We must source and consume responsibly, hire fairly, nurture the communities we impact – and always do the right thing. These are our core values and they inform everything we do.
A healthy environment is one that nurtures and protects biodiversity – the rich variety of life on earth upon which rests the most basic human rights to life, health, food and safe water. World Environment Day calls on us all to make time for nature. For RB this year that means celebrating biodiversity and all that we are doing to halt its decline, as well as ensuring human rights are respected and protected.
This begins with safeguarding the communities and environments that provide us with the ingredients we use. Our raw materials, human rights and environmental policies frame our approach to biodiversity, one we share with our suppliers. We aim to be a sustainable business in terms of how we work, how we try to reduce the impact of our products and operations, and what we are doing to help people and communities around the world.
A year of positive change
“Within the past 12 months, together with our partners across our value chain, we’ve cut down on packaging, increased the use of recycled plastic, sourced more cardboard and paper from sustainable sources, and continued to protect ecosystems threatened by deforestation,” says Miguel Veiga-Pestana, RB’s SVP of corporate affairs and sustainability. “We’ve made it easier for consumers to recycle efficiently, have reduced energy and water consumption, and promoted human rights and gender equality as part of progressively developing more sustainable practices.”
These changes are apparent in the products we make. RB’s revolutionary new cleaner Veo is 99 per cent biodegradable, free from chlorine bleach and comes in a bottle made of 95 per cent recycled plastic. Our MegaRed dietary supplement uses Marine Stewardship Council-certified ingredients, thereby helping to protect our ecosystems for the future.
RB is also a Business Avenger, one of 17 global companies championing the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. As our brands are focused on health, hygiene and nutrition we are championing the four SDG goals of zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, gender equality, and clean water and sanitation – areas where we can have most impact. But we also touch many more SDGs across our value chain.
This year, we’re taking another step towards helping reduce climate change. Our first step is to play our part in keeping global warming to 1.5C by further reducing greenhouse-gas emissions in our operations and reducing the carbon footprint of our products. Ultimately our ambition is to be carbon neutral by 2040, although we know that may need us to offset any remaining emissions. The actions we take will help protect ecosystems and the rights of those communities that rely on them for their survival.
The value of like-minded partners
RB is also working with other partners to help protect forest and ocean ecosystems while embedding human rights, all the while encouraging biodiversity.
“Working with the Earthworm Foundation, we’re helping to establish a project that monitors palm-oil deforestation using satellites to identify areas at risk and helps take mitigating or, even better, preventive action,” says Veiga-Pestana.
Simultaneously, we’ve been encouraging our suppliers to find the best ways to protect forests. These large, valuable ecosystems support vast numbers of species. Actions include encouraging latex farmers supplying Durex to use a variety of trees rather than pursuing a monoculture approach – the very opposite of biodiversity and a known contributor to disease – and helping palm-oil farmers to raise goats as part of a project to diversify smallholders’ incomes. In total, our efforts in 2019 saw 1,142 palm-oil and latex farmers receive training in better agricultural practices to protect and improve biodiversity in the areas in which we operate.
Another important association is with the Sustainable Agriculture Initiative and its Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP). This looks at ways to increase sustainability in the dairy industry and we’re starting to tackle key challenges such as greenhouse gas production, which contributes to climate change, as well as human rights and animal welfare.
Safeguarding the oceans and wildlife
To protect life in the oceans, we’ve increased the amount of recycled plastic we use and ensured that more of our plastic can be easily recycled, reducing the risk of pollution. We also remain part of a group of companies that has voluntarily agreed not to source any krill from the Antarctic, where populations have declined by up to 80 per cent over the past 40 years. Protection is important because krill form the base of a delicate ecosystem that includes fish, penguins, seals and whales.
Committed to going above and beyond
These efforts and more we make not because we’re forced to but because we’re committed to being a responsible business. “Wherever we can we don’t just meet the applicable laws and regulations but strive to go beyond them to respect human rights, health and safety and the environment and to support sustainable development,” says Veiga-Pestana.
Taken as a whole, our efforts are progressively helping biodiversity. We use key performance indicators to measure progress and include how we are doing against our targets in our annual reports. Independent recognition came in September 2019 when we rejoined the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, an important global standard for measuring and advancing corporate sustainability. That’s how we know we’re going in the right direction, improving people’s lives and fulfilling our purpose to protect, heal and nurture in the relentless pursuit of a cleaner, healthier world.