Sustainability is part of our DNA…
As an ethical company, we’re ever mindful of our responsibility to creating our great products in a sustainable and ethical way.
Since we opened our doors in Covent Garden in 1981 we have been dedicated to trading sustainably and ethically and treating people fairly, whether they are suppliers, customers or staff members. From the first Soil Association organic beauty products, to marking our 10th anniversary of becoming the world’s first CarbonNeutral® high street retailer this year, we continue to pioneer ways of supporting people and planet throughout this beautiful world.
We are global leaders in sustainability – but we don’t rest on our laurels. We aim to become a Net Positive business that benefits all aspects of environmental, social and economic sustainability whilst helping deliver the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals.
This page highlights our progress on key sustainability issues – the ways we tread lightly on our planet and support the people who inhabit it.
We’re ethical pioneers
We believe that the best way of assuring good practice is through independent verification. This year we were audited by the Ethical Company Organisation and maintained our score of 100/100 for ethics, as well as retaining our For Life certification for social responsibility. We intend to continue using independent verification to guarantee our ethical credentials.
We believe in treading lightly on the earth to ensure our environmental footprint is as gentle as it can be. We recently celebrated our 10th anniversary of becoming the first UK high street retailer to be certified CarbonNeutral®, having offset our greenhouse gas emissions every year since 2008. Not only does this reduce our impact on climate change but we also intend to remain CarbonNeutral®. We offset our emissions through the Makira Forest Protection Project in Madagascar.
We’re tackling climate change
In addition to being CarbonNeutral®, we’re following best practice in tackling climate change by setting a Science Based Target, for ‘emissions intensity’ (not counting carbon offsets). This will help to achieve the United Nations’ goal of limiting the global temperature rise to two degrees above pre-industrial levels.
Our target is for emission intensity, including direct and indirect energy emissions (or ‘Scope 1’ and ‘Scope 2’ emissions as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol), based on the Center for Sustainable Organizations ‘context based carbon metric’. We’re aiming for a 47% reduction by 2025 and an 87% reduction by 2050, compared to 2010. So far we have cut our emission intensity by 19%.
We use renewable energy
Renewable energy greatly reduces air pollution as well as carbon emissions and, having installed 700m2 of solar panels at our eco factory in Dorset, we generate more than 5% of our own electricity. This is topped up by a 100% UK sourced renewable tariff and we also choose 100% renewable electricity and gas for our stores.
We aim to use 100% renewable electricity and gas internationally but, unfortunately, there is currently no green tariff available in Massachusetts, where our US operations are based. We will switch as soon as a renewable energy source becomes available.
We use natural and organic ingredients
Organic products are kind to the earth – and kind to you as they have all their natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and no harmful pesticides. That’s why 92% of our physically processed agricultural ingredients (defined by the COSMOS standard) are certified organic by weight. We also are committed to using no genetically modified (GM) ingredients. Find out more about Why Organic here.
We have never tested on animals
We have never tested on animals, only on willing humans, and never will. We are certified by Cruelty Free International, which guarantees our products have not been tested on animals, and meet the Humane Cosmetics Standard for cosmetics, toiletries and personal care. Our commitment to animal welfare has been recognised by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), who are working to stop animal abuse worldwide, on their list of cruelty free brands.
We’re helping people and planet
We support people and planet through charity donations, paying fair trade premiums to suppliers to help their communities and by giving all staff a community day every year. We currently give £100,000 worth of resources to charitable causes each year, higher than the average of FTSE 100 companies as a proportion of turnover.
We support global communities
We believe that our mission to support people's health and wellbeing starts with the very first seed, long before our ingredients arrive at our eco factory. We work closely with our suppliers and have built strong, lasting relationships with growers who use organic, fair trade and wild-harvesting practices. In 2017 we paid more than £30,000 in fair trade premiums to suppliers to support local communities and funded projects including building a well for the women of the Samburu Tribe, who collect our Kenyan frankincense. We will continue to allocate at least a third of donations to support our supply chain and, this year, we will bring in three new fair trade ingredients from Uganda.
We certify our organic products
We follow the Precautionary Principle – we maximise our use of pure, natural and organic ingredients, meaning you won't find anything in our products we believe could cause you or the planet harm. We have the world’s largest collection of Soil Association certified health and beauty products, with 64% of our relevant formulations currently certified organic, and 100% of our cotton.
We have non-certified products which have ingredients that we cannot currently source organically, because they’re not grown organically or, as with surfactants, because there is no suitable organic alternative. We intend to certify our non-organic products under the new COSMOS Natural standard by 2025.
We are saving the bees
The vital bee is under threat, with over half of UK bee species having declined in the past 50 years and 97% of wildflower meadows having disappeared since the 1930s. Our pioneering Bee Lovely campaign has raised over £120,000 for bee friendly causes since its launch in 2011 with sales of our nourishing and uplifting Bee Lovely range. Through these donations we will support 50 million bees by 2020. We are also proud to have played a key role in the successful campaign to secure a ban on neonicotinoid insecticides, having handed in a 120,000-strong petition to 10 Downing Street calling for an EU-wide ban. In addition, a high proportion of our ingredients are from organic agriculture, which has been shown to support 50% more pollinator biodiversity, supporting more bees.
We’re committed to reducing landfill
We follow the four R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover energy – when aiming to avoid waste. We aim to send zero non-hazardous waste to landfill from our two key sites by 2020.
We are moving towards a ‘circular economy’
We’re progressing towards the vision of a ‘circular economy’, in which resources are re-used rather than going to landfill. We’re doing this by minimising single use packaging, particularly non-recycled and single use plastic. So far we’ve switched most of our plastic bottles to 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. We will switch to using entirely recycled plastic bottles by 2025, and aim to meet the targets of the UK Plastics Pact, whilst continuing to avoid excess plastic use by using glass where it is suitable for the product. In 2017 we became the first national company to commit to the Refill Scheme, actively encouraging customers to come in and refill water flasks, to reduce the usage of single-use plastic bottles. Read more about our commitment to Keep Our Oceans Plastic Free here
We protect biodiverse and endangered habitats
We actively protect vulnerable forests, which are hugely important to biodiversity, as well as absorbing carbon from the atmosphere. We do this through World Land Trust, which creates protected nature reserves around the world, safeguarding threatened habitats and wildlife, such as the Spectacled Bear. We also support the Makira Project, which limits deforestation in Madagascar through our carbon offsets, protecting animals such as lemurs and serpent eagles. So far, we have protected over one million square metres of vulnerable land with World Land Trust and hundreds of thousands more with the Makira Project..
We avoid deforestation
The card and paper we use is responsibly sourced, to help limit deforestation. For example we purchase FSC® and PEFC certified or 100% recycled paper and card. These certifications ensure forests are responsibly managed and ensure chain of custody exists. This means that the paper we use is from an approved, traceable source, from producer to end user. Our product cartons and gift boxes also use Carbon Balanced Paper through World Land Trust to further reduce their environmental impact.
We will continue to use sustainably sourced card and paper.
Find out more about our packaging here.
We actively protect our oceans
We’ve never used harmful plastic microbeads in any of our scrubs or polishes and are proud to have successfully lobbied the UK government, alongside Greenpeace and Fauna & Flora International, to BanTheBead.
We’ve been leading the way in demonstrating that fantastic scrubs don’t need microbeads – Neal’s Yard Remedies was the first UK brand to be certified with the Look for the Zero logo, showing that we use zero plastic our products. Instead we use natural exfoliants, such as ground apricot kernels or rosehip seeds.
Find out what else we have done to help protect our oceans here.
Freshwater is a limited resource and requires valuable resources to make it safe to use – and we take active steps to limit our freshwater use. We have a water recycling system at our eco-factory, which recycles up to one million litres of water every year. Greywater from manufacture and rainwater goes towards non-sanitary uses such as flushing toilets. This accounts for around 10% of our water use and we intend to remain at 10%, even as our production grows. Another step we take to reduce our freshwater use is to aerate appropriate sink taps at our eco-factory. We also fund freshwater availability projects, most recently rainwater collection tanks for our suppliers of tea tree oil in Kenya.