“Few large companies have really shaken up their business models to deal with the climate crisis,” observes Laure Blondel, Director of Brands, Products and Responsible Consumption Consulting at GreenFlex, a company that supports companies in their environmental transition. How to explain it? † Above all, they see the sustainability of their economic model and cannot change everything overnight. †
“Some are opportunistic and pride themselves on initiatives that in reality do not weigh on their turnover at all and do not affect the economic model”, adds Elisabeth Laville, director of Utopies, a consultancy specializing in the environment. So it will be obvious that a big brand that collects used clothes for recycling and releases new collections every month at low prices and is manufactured on the other side of the planet may not be as virtuous as it claims.
But others, without being perfect, move forward. They are all the more compelled to do so as small brands come to take market share from them with virtuous and innovative models. Laure Blondel and Elisabeth Laville helped us select six that really made a difference.
Furniture. Camif, the company that wants to move furniture production to France
Former cooperative founded in 1947 by teachers, this company specializing in the sale of furniture and objects for the home has developed on the mail order model. It was forcibly liquidated in 2008 and acquired by the Matelsom group with a new e-commerce model committed to responsible consumption. It achieved B Corp certification in 2015 and became a company with a mission in 2020.
Specific ? Since 2013, Camif shows on its website the production locations of each of its products, the origin of their main components and the number of kilometers traveled to reach the factory. At the end of 2021, the brand will permanently remove products produced outside Europe from its range, while these still made up 7.8% of its catalog. Today, 77% of sales come from products made in France.
His new challenge Keep the share of its turnover in France above 70%.
The expert’s opinion “In a furniture market dominated by major Asian imports of often questionable quality, Camif has adopted a model that demonstrates that you can save a brand and reconnect with economic success by betting radically on local, quality and sustainability. this, with a great ripple effect on French manufacturers, known or not »summarizes Elisabeth Laville of Utopias.
Hygiene cosmetics. Mustela, the brand that relies on natural skin care
The brand of the pharmaceutical and dermo-cosmetic laboratory Expanscience, founded in 1950, markets care and hygiene products specially designed for babies and mothers. Since 2018 she is B Corp certified.
Specific ? In 2010, it started an eco-design approach, with the aim of reducing the environmental impact of the entire life cycle of its products (supply, production, distribution, packaging, end-of-life). By optimizing packaging, it has since saved 152 tons of plastic and 78 tons of cardboard. In 2020, Mustela decided to go further: to limit the single use of its packaging, it launched refill systems, which are now deployed in several dozen points of sale (but for only two products). It has also made progress in the composition of its products: on average 96% of ingredients are of natural origin (compared to 80% in 2010). In 2019 it started offering certified organic products. There are nine today, out of a total of fifty.
His new challenge It is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030. It plans to reduce the use of plastic in its products (and favor recycled plastic), develop solid formats and ensure that at least 20% of its products will be offered in a rechargeable version by 2025.
The expert’s opinion “The inspiring adventure of a French family business and its historic flagship brand shows that dedication is not only the business of small innovative brands (such as Lamazuna for example), but that it is possible to deepen its practices and products and become a recognized leader in its market »thinks Elisabeth Laville.
Household appliances. Darty, the brand focused on the fight against planned obsolescence
Darty, founded in 1954, is a company specializing in the sale of household appliances, computer equipment, telephony and audiovisual. The brand, which was acquired by the Fnac group in 2016, had 465 stores in France at the end of 2021.
Specific ? With a view to extending the life of products, Darty launched the Darty Max subscription in 2019. The principle: subscribers benefit from a repair service with no limits on the number of devices, failures or age, including the replacement of defective parts for all devices purchased from Darty or elsewhere. The price: from 9.99 euros to 19.99 euros per month. The brand has 500,000 subscribers to this service. The group also develops a second-hand offer (at Darty and at Fnac), with refurbished products sold in stores and online, but does not communicate with figures to know whether this measure really has a weight on turnover.
His new challenge The brand hopes to quadruple the number of subscribers to its Darty Max service by 2025. It aims to increase the number of repaired products from 1.5 million a year now to 2.5 million by 2025.
The expert’s opinion “The used and refurbished market is still timid, but it is a fundamental trend. Tomorrow’s challenge for this type of brand will not just be to offer a used/refurbished offering, but to ensure that it is as desirable, if not more so, than new products.emphasizes Laure Blondel of GreenFlex.
Hobbies. Decathlon, the brand that wants to include sport in the circular economy
Last year, the brand celebrated its 45th anniversary. At the initiative of Michel Leclercq, the first store opened its doors in the North in 1976. Ten years later, Decathlon launched the Trocathlon, a one-off event where second-hand sports equipment from private individuals is put back on sale by the brand.
Specific ? In 2018, the company decided to move forward by selling second-hand products year-round, in stores and online. Today, 94% of its stores have it. It also allows individuals to rent equipment for a few days to a few months. There are camping, fitness and bodybuilding equipment and bicycles for rent. It has also opened maintenance and repair shops in 310 of its stores to extend the life of its products. To guide consumers in their purchases, it gives an environmental rating from A to E on 63% of its textile and footwear products, calculated over the entire product lifecycle, using a methodology developed by Ademe (Eco transition) and the Ministry of Ecological and Inclusive Transition.
His new challenge It claims to have an environmental rating on 100% of its textile and footwear products by 2026 and wants all its stores to market second-hand products.
The expert’s opinion “Decathlon has always put innovation at the heart of its model and its development. The main impact of the brand is the production of products (and therefore the extraction of raw materials), all initiatives in favor of a circular economy are welcome”says Laure Blondel.
Clothing. Galeries Lafayette, the brand that pushes fashion to be more virtuous
The brand was born in Paris in 1894, at the initiative of two cousins. It now sells products in all price ranges, from clothing to beauty to home.
Specific ? In 2018, the brand founded Go for Good, an in-house label displayed on the web and in stores to identify the pieces that “have less impact on the environment, support local production or contribute to social development”† To obtain it, a product must meet at least one of the six criteria (on the origin of the raw materials, the transformation processes, the service life, etc.).
About 1,000 brands have their products Go for Good stamped on the shelves of Galeries Lafayette and BHV Marais (so about sixty stores). Most of these are clothing, but there are also products in the beauty, jewelry, home and food departments. “We do not claim to present ‘perfect’ and responsible products in all dimensions, but ‘better’ products compared to the market average, explains Damien Pellé, director of sustainable development. The aim was also to create emulation between the brands to encourage them to increase their share of responsible offers. † In 2021, products with this label represented 22% of the sales of both brands.
His new challenge Increasing this share to 25% of sales by 2024, while raising the criteria to claim it. That year, these brands plan to refer only to brands that have at least one product stamped with this label. Meanwhile, they want all their stores to have a (Re)Store, a sales area dedicated to second-hand and responsible fashion. The first was inaugurated in September 2021 at its store on boulevard Haussmann in Paris.
The expert’s opinion “The responsible commitment of a distributor is, first of all, the selection of products, then their promotion in stores, with the desire to develop sales. By relying on existing labels and robust criteria, the Go for Good approach has already inspired Galeries Lafayette’s main competitor, Le Printemps, but also Sephora and Maisons du Monde.”underlines Elisabeth Laville.
Eating. Danone, the group that supports its suppliers in regenerative agriculture
The French agri-food giant, founded in 1919, owns brands of dairy and vegetable products (Activia, Danette, Les 2 Vaches, etc.), natural mineral waters (Evian, Volvic, Badoit, etc.) and nutrition specialist (Blédina, etc. .) . In June 2020, Danone became the first listed company to become a company with a mission. The following year, B Corp’s certified subsidiaries represented 62% of sales.
Specific ? In order to offer an alternative to single-use packaging, the group has been experimenting with deposits on several of its brands since 2019: Blédina, Badoit and Evian. In France, Danone has launched the Beet it project to support and train 200 farmers in regenerative agriculture, aiming to have 2,500 hectares cultivated in this way by 2025, with financial and technical support. Today, the group ensures that 19.7% of key ingredient volumes are supplied directly from farms operating in the regenerative farming approach. Since 2016, Danone has also supported 1,400 farmers (training, diagnostics, technical support), reducing their carbon footprint by almost 10%.
Her goals The group aims to achieve B Corp certification for all of its subsidiaries by 2025.
The expert’s opinion “Danone has made a systemic commitment across its value chain, realizing its responsibility to people and their environment very early, far beyond the reach of direct action. It has done in-depth work on these topics in a very collaborative way with its ecosystem”notes Laure Blondel.