Relex Solutions knew that the solutions they provide help clients to reduce their carbon footprint, but gaining a better understanding of the actual scale of the positive impact motivated them to calculate their carbon handprint. We asked Johanna Småros, the co-founder of RELEX for her thoughts on the future of sustainable solutions and technology with purpose.
The need for sustainable solutions affects all businesses. How is the demand for sustainability shaping RELEX’s operating environment?
We mainly work with retailers, which are, of course, directly influenced by the priorities of their customers, i.e. consumers like you and me. As consumers are getting increasingly concerned about global warming, retailers will have a bigger and bigger business incentive to focus on sustainability. So far, much of the sustainability discussion in retail has focused on specific issues, such as the need to reduce the use of plastic packaging and plastic bags. However, going forward, I am confident that sustainability will only gain in importance. Several big retailers have already made public commitments to reducing their carbon footprints within the next five years and I think other retailers will soon start to feel a pressure to follow suite.
You carried out a carbon handprint project with Gaia this year. What was the reason for you to start such a project?
RELEX Solutions has a consistent and well-documented track record of reducing our clients’ food waste by 10 – 50 % through more accurate forecasting and inventory management. However, as we typically only work with units and dollars, we wanted to better understand the environmental impact – especially the impact on our clients’ carbon footprint – that these savings amount to. Also, we wanted to take this opportunity to work with Gaia’s experts to gain additional knowledge about how the carbon footprint of food waste can be measured in order to better understand how this could be incorporated into our product in the future.
Did your carbon handprint reveal something unexpected?
Although obvious in hindsight, it was interesting to see how the carbon footprint of the saved food waste varied between different types of clients depending on their respective product assortments. It was also a bit surprising to see how challenging carbon footprint measurements still are; different sources offer different estimates for the carbon footprint of similar products, leading to the need to combine data from several sources and conducting sensitivity analyses to ensure the validity of the results. Due to these complexities, I think it was a good idea to leverage Gaia’s expertise in this project.
Measuring the carbon handprint provides a lot of information for strategic development. How have you utilized the project’s outcomes?
The results form a part of our sustainability program, as well as of the participating clients’ programs. Sustainability is of high priority to our employees, which is why we are keen on understanding the carbon footprint of our own operations as well as the impact we have on our customers’ operations. Although the overall balance is already very good – meaning that our positive impact on our clients’ carbon footprint is a lot bigger than our internal carbon footprint – we want to keep making increasingly sustainable choices going forward.
It was Gaia’s pleasure to assist you in the project. How did you find working with Gaia?
We were very happy with our co-operation with Gaia. Gaia’s team was very committed to getting the most reliable results possible while working in a very responsive and effective way. It felt like we were on the same page right from the start.