Chris Sayner is VP of Customer Alliances and Corporate Sustainability at Croda. Based in the UK, Croda is a supplier of raw materials and ingredients to the personal care and other industries, with a high proportion derived from renewables
Croda is known for its strong sustainability profile. Is this a major trend in the industry in general?
There is a strong sustainability theme in the industry that is quite well represented here. Ingredients suppliers and fragrance companies are intent on being aligned with the consumer goods companies and giving them the tools they need to maintain or improve the equity in their brands to the benefit of consumers, who expect their favourite brands to look after the integrity and sustainability of the goods they buy. Consumers now are extremely interested in the brands they buy, including the ingredients, where they come from and the social accountability side. There is a high degree of transparency in the industry that simply wasn’t there 20 years ago.
How important is that to your customers?
The way large consumer goods companies judge us an ingredients supplier is traditionally based on four metrics of quality and service, which are absolute givens, cost, which is important too, and innovation, our ability to deliver new ingredients from our R&D output. Sustainability has become a fifth, it is an absolute requirement. The way we frame it at Croda, which I am speaking on here, is ‘Ingredient Integrity’.
You have actually trademarked that term – what does it mean to you?
Basically, it is a holistic view of the ingredients we manufacture and develop: the raw materials, the sustainability of the supply chains, the carbon footprints, the set of environmental metrics attached to the manufacture of the ingredients, like water, waste and CO2 emissions and also the use of renewables. We have a particular fixation on increasing the quantity of renewable materials we consume. Generally speaking, renewable is good because when crops are growing, they sequester carbon from the atmosphere and that is a vital part of meeting climate change targets. I like the term ‘Ingredient Integrity’ partly because it doesn’t need much explaining – the word ‘integrity’ sounds and means much the same in five European languages.
How are customers measuring your sustainability credentials?
The requirements major consumer goods companies put on ingredient suppliers these days include reporting to the Climate Disclosure Programme, not only for greenhouse gases, but water and forests – which plays right into the palm oil issue. Suppliers are assessed on their supply chains and whether there is anything in them that could contribute to deforestation. You have to account in detail for your use of palm derivatives, soya and wood, which is still widely used in packaging. Ecovadis is an increasingly popular environmental certification scorecard that a lot of the personal care companies now want. We were asked a long time ago by one company to do it, so we did – now it is required by a lot of them. The questionnaire is extremely thorough and there is nowhere to hide; it is all evidence-based and you must provide documentation to back up your claims. We use it as a tool for improvement. We began with a score of 62 out of 100, then 72 and now 77, which puts us in the top 1% of the 20,000 companies they measure. The next target is to beat 80.