Why planet over profit is best for business

Fresh Prep Co-Founder Dhruv Sood discusses how a planet approach to business is not only the right thing to do, but is the only way of achieving a sustainable economy.

Why planet over profit is best for business

The three Ps, also known as the ‘triple bottom line’, is a concept in which businesses commit to profit, people, and the planet.

In the past, businesses measured success by financial performance alone. Now, purpose-driven leaders are discovering they have the power to use their businesses as a force for good too; achieving commercial success doesn’t have to be at the expense of the planet.

Despite this, a recent report by the Carbon Majors Database found that 100 companies are responsible for roughly 71 percent of all industrial emissions. Making businesses more sustainable starts with being aware of the issue at hand and understanding just how important it is to make changes – both for the business and the planet.

When I and two high-school friends founded Fresh Prep in 2015, we wanted to provide a convenient solution to meal prep. We set out to ensure our meal kit service would be a business that consumers could trust, and did this by ensuring responsible stewardship of our planet’s resources in our process and production line from beginning to end.

In March 2019, we were thrilled to obtain B Corporation status, aligning with our values and defining what’s important to us as a company – a sustainable business model. Ultimately, the long-term health of our business is linked to the long-term health of the planet and those who inhabit it. We have worked hard on creating KPIs and success metrics to reflect this in all areas of the business, including packaging.

According to a 2018 report from The New Climate Economy, 95% of plastic packaging – the equivalent of $120 billion every year – is wasted after the first use, and microplastics have been found in 114 aquatic species. Since day one, we have had a vision of eliminating all single-use packaging from the meal kit experience to make sure we don’t add to numbers like that.

Over the years, this has involved many different packaging iterations, as we experimented with multiple materials to store food conveniently and sustainably for customers. We put this effort in because we believe that the onus to be sustainable should not fall on the consumer; businesses are responsible for turning the tide on plastic waste.

Our meal kit delivery, in which we visit the doors of customers every week, allowed us to develop a circular system where our drivers deliver and pick up reusable cooler bags and packaging materials. The cooler bags are professionally cleaned before being reused for future deliveries.

Earlier this year, after three years of research and engineering, we launched our Zero Waste Kit, an alternative to non-reusable plastic packaging. We estimate that each Zero Waste Kit saves approximately 19g of single-use plastic per meal. At scale, if all of our customers regularly order Zero Waste Kits each week, we could divert 500 kg of soft plastic waste per week — that’s the same as the weight of a mini caravan!

We’ve heard time and time again about how individuals need to do more; but the reality is, businesses need to innovate to enable the green solutions that consumers are increasingly demanding.

Our meal kit company, which started as a small cafe in Vancouver, BC, is now one of the fastest-growing businesses in Canada, having grown revenue by 540% over the last three years while exceeding all of our income targets. With COVID-19 driving increased interest in the meal kit industry overall, our responsiveness and agility have allowed us to provide uninterrupted service to customers in a time of need. We remain well positioned for future growth, all the while keeping the planet top of mind.

We make sustainability easy for customers by eliminating waste and increasing the lifespan of resources through a delivery model of continual reuse. From initiatives such as our Zero Waste Kit and prioritizing working with local suppliers, we are committed to serving the community in a sustainable way.

As a company, we still have a way to go. But we are constantly striving to build a valuable company while ensuring that short-term interests never come at the cost of sacrificing our vision and impact on society.

The intersection of planet and profit is an exciting opportunity to disrupt an entire market for the better. This is exactly what we’re doing at Fresh Prep.

Sustainability and minimising packaging is something the whole food industry needs to address. We can’t speak to what other meal kit companies are doing, but hope that others in our industry will begin addressing environmental issues through initiatives that make sense for their business.

Now is the time for businesses to become part of the solution. Now is the time to cut down on emissions and waste, and contribute to cultivating a livable planet.

To some businesses, adopting a triple bottom line approach may seem idealistic in a world that emphasizes profit over the planet. Innovative companies like ours, however, have shown time and again that it’s possible to do well by doing good.

Watch edie’s B Corp webiner

edie hosted a one-hour webinar on Thursday 7 October outlining how companies, including edie’s publisher Faversham House and manufacturer PZ Cussons, are actively making business a force for good through the B Corp movement.

This one-hour edie webinar, hosted in association with sustainability consultancy and edie’s B Corp partner, Seismic, brings together a selection of certified B Corps to discuss how the process worked, what role the in-house sustainability and CSR teams have played, and benefits experienced so far.

Watch the webinar here.

Dhruv Sood – Co-Founder and COO, Fresh Prep

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