Fantastic plastic: two waste pickers in Bengaluru, India, the source of The Body Shop’s Community Fair Trade recycled plastic in partnership with Plastics for Change. Image: The Body Shop International PLC
One of the UK’s best-loved high street retailers, TheBody Shop has led the way with its activism and campaigning, and by making business choices that help to protect the planet since it was founded in 1976.
It pioneered a sustainable approach to business that we now recognise is essential if we are to put the brakes on climate change, pollution and poverty. And today that vision is being scaled up.
“We’re committed to long-term sustainability and reducing our impact on the environment,” shares Linda Campbell, MD for The Body Shop UK & Ireland.
“Our long-term vision is that our products do not cause harm to people or the environment and can be repurposed. We’re looking at a broader focus to take a responsible and ‘circular economy’ approach to all materials – not just plastic, and to take other environmental issues into account, such as the climate crisis”.
As a beauty retailer, The Body Shop recognises its responsibility to reduce waste, encourage recycling and tackle global plastic pollution that has escalated out of control. Simultaneously, it is striving to produce 100% vegan-certified products by 2023, while developing a sustainable, environmentally-beneficial supply chain that empowers some of the world’s most marginalised people.
The need to reduce plastic use is clear, and will be reinforced at COP26. But The Body Shop ethos goes beyond the material itself, creating a supply chain that positively impacts lives.
Around the globe three billion people live in areas with no waste management. In Bengaluru, India, Plastics for Change works with waste-pickers to provide a stable income, better conditions, training and skills to develop their own businesses, producing Community Fair Trade recycled plastic used by The Body Shop in its packaging.
With better working conditions, a fair price, respect and recognition, individuals and communities are empowered to set up their own waste management companies, offering employment and supplying the sustainable plastics industry through global connections such as that with The Body Shop.
Meanwhile, the retailer is radically reducing use of virgin and oil-based plastics in its packaging. It is now using 100% post-consumer recycled (PCR) material in some 60ml, 250ml and 750ml bottles – saving 580 tonnes of new plastic each year. By the end of 2021, around 90% of PET (flexible polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles will be made of recycled plastic. By 2025, all bath, body and haircare products will be 100% recyclable.
The idea of repurposing and refilling has gripped consumers’ imagination recently and The Body Shop’s engaging ideas include encouraging customers to reuse cardboard mail-order, use refillable bottles, and return empty plastic containers into their stores to be recycled or repurposed.
With the feelgood hit of taking action, we also get great products – and know we’re making a difference to the environment, because The Body Shop takes its role as a responsible business seriously.
The Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick pioneered refilling in 1976 – running short of packaging, she invited customers to bring back bottles to top up. Now in 2021 The Body Shop is inviting customers to join the refill revolution again – and by November 130 UK branches will have refilling stations, with 800 in stores worldwide by end of 2022.
Making good corporate choices which balance people, planet and profit
helped The Body Shop achieve B Corps status in 2019, recognition that it meets the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
Business as a force for good is at the heart of Natura & Co, which The Body Shop is part of (alongside Natura, Aesop and Avon). In 2020 Natura & Co launched its 2030 Sustainability Vision, titled Commitment to Life.
Addressing some of the world’s most urgent and pressing challenges – the climate crisis, ensuring human rights, inclusivity and diversity, and embracing circularity and regeneration – it has committed to achieving Net Zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
A world-leader in sustainability and equality, The Body Shop also supports other organisations, including The Big Issue! Dame Anita Roddick and her husband Gordon helped the magazine get going 30 years ago, and that relationship continues to flourish.
As a crossbench peer, Big Issue founder Lord John Bird introduced the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill to Parliament, uniting organisations and changemakers with a shared vision of a better future where sustainability is embedded in all policy, and The Body Shop UK & Ireland is on the steering group supporting the Bill.
So, not just an iconic beauty brand and British business success story. Putting its money where its mouth is, The Body Shop is a genuinely activist organisation.
We can all be activists by becoming savvy consumers – where and how we shop, which products we choose, the credentials we check, and what we do once we’ve got our goodies home.
And, if we take those responsible steps together, we’ll be part of a strong, inspiring movement that’s better for the whole planet.
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