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Balancing Profit and Purpose – feat. Ecosurety

The purpose of our series “Balancing Profit and Purpose” is to feature fellow B Corporations, to hopefully inspire many more to join the movement.

We showcase those companies that meet rigorously verified standards of social and environmental performance, those that use business as a force for good. As a collective, B Corps are accelerating a global cultural shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

As part of this, we caught up with Stephanie Housty, Marketing Manager at Ecosurety.

Ania @ ADLIB: For some background information, who are you as a business and what makes your business offering unique?

Stephanie: Ecosurety is an environmental consultant helping businesses to comply with their environmental legal obligations, especially around packaging, e-waste and batteries recycling. Funded 17 years ago, we are based in Bristol and we work with more than 1,000 customers – that we call members – across the country.

We have a strong purpose of “change for good” that guides every decision we make, and a passionate team of people who joined the company because they wanted to make a difference. As it says on our office kitchen wall, “We exist to make an impact”, specifically on UK recycling. This commitment stands out in a market where “tick-box” compliance is more than often prevalent. In a world where resources are not infinite and as we all face a climate emergency, having a clear purpose is a strong motivation that makes us get up in the morning!

Ania @ ADLIB: What got you interested in joining the B Corp movement and what does being a B Corp mean to you?

Stephanie: We first heard about B Corp 5 years ago, during a meeting with our member Lily’s Kitchen, a B Corp company, who said after hearing our presentation “You should become a B Corp, because your values and ethos are fully aligned with the movement”. At the time we did some research about the certification and what it meant, but felt we were not quite ready to make the commitment yet. However, it was niggling at the back of our mind and as the company continued to mature to increasingly focus on making a meaningful impact on the environment, as well as looking after the wellbeing and performance of our team, we were evolving in the B Corp direction unconsciously. In 2018, during a business review we realised that becoming a B Corp was the obvious next step to validate all the hard work the team was doing to be as sustainable as possible. We officially embarked on the certification journey a few months later.

Being a B Corp business means a lot to us. First of all, it is a testament to the positive impact we have made beyond our core business activity over the years on the sustainability front. More than any industry award or accolade, the certification is a public recognition that we truly balance purpose and profit. The B Impact Assessment (BIA) that you need to go through as part of the certification process, is thorough and rigorous. It looks at the facts and what you have really achieved, and not at your intentions or promises. There is no way you can fake your way to it, hence why the B Corp certification has so much power: it puts everyone in agreement. Being a B Corp is the best demonstration that we really walk the talk.

Beyond being a recognition of our past actions, the B Corp certification also contributes to shape the future of our company. To get certified you need to change your articles of association to publicly state that you place stakeholders and shareholders at the same level in your decision making. It is a strong commitment from our Board of directors to ensure that whatever the business goes through in the future, we will always put people and planet at the same level as profit. The B Corp framework helps us to have a holistic view of how we can follow our purpose and certainly keeps us on our toes to ensure we continuously make progress in the right direction!

Ania @ ADLIB: Can you share a little bit about your B Corp story, what the process was like for you?

Stephanie: I was lucky enough to lead the certification project so I could definitely talk about the process we went through for hours! But to cut a long (and administrative) story short, from start to finish, it took us 15 months to officially become a B Corp. It felt quite a long process with lots of discussions during the first phase, especially at Board level, to evaluate the risks and opportunities. Becoming a B Corp is a long-term commitment to our team, our stakeholders and the environment, so we took the time we needed to make sure it was the right move for the business.

Then the B Lab assessment process itself is extremely detailed and rigorous, so it required the support of colleagues across our team, experts in the five impact areas of focus – governance, workers, community, environment and customers – to ensure we got the facts and evidence right. We finally got the confirmation of our certification a few weeks after the spring lockdown started and it was a tremendously positive event that has definitely boosted the team’s morale at an uncertain time, even if we haven’t been able to celebrate it all together in the same room as we would have hoped!

Ania @ ADLIB: In your case, what does it mean for your workers, customers, community and environmental considerations?

Stephanie: Being B Corp means different things to all our stakeholders. Generally, it shows to all that we live our purpose and are genuine about our commitments on sustainability. For our members and suppliers, it specifically demonstrates how serious we are about making a tangible impact on recycling.

For our staff it shows our commitment to look after them, by securing their wellbeing, performance and development. And for our community it gives us a fantastic opportunity to make a tangible difference locally, by collaborating with like-minded people to drive up the sustainability agenda and inspiring others to act.

As for the environmental considerations, it was already high up in our agenda due to the waste and resources industry we evolve in, but it feels more important than ever to lead by example by challenging the status quo in the recycling industry. This means always seeking better ways to make a change for good for the environment. As such, last year we launched a £1 million fund, spread over three years – The Ecosurety Exploration Fund – aimed at reducing the environmental impact of batteries, e-waste and packaging on the environment. The winning projects of the first year of the fund will be revealed in December and we are very proud to support them.

Thank You for your time!