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"Brands can change the world" | How Greenre is putting sustainability in the hands of children

Wed 11 May 2022 | 09:41 pm GMT
Rob Hutchins | Products of Change Writer

greenre is putting sustainability in the hands of children with sustainable licensed stationery lines

The Canadian licensed stationery specialist, greenre (the lower case ‘g’ is intentional) is formulating a circular economy model. It’s a strategy that puts the North American market licensee in step with some pretty big hitters in the world of business and sets it apart from a vast many more. By utilising waste streams, eco-design, and understanding end of life of its products and packaging, as well as incorporating tree-planting initiatives as part of its everyday operations, greenre is a mass market licensing partner that, by its own accord, has achieved ‘unprecedented carbon off-setting effects’ that are outpacing its expectations. It’s also a company that brings some of the biggest brands and franchises in the children’s market today into the stationery sector, flying the flag for next-level sustainability within the international licensing sector. With so much to shout about already, and with so many plans in place for a whole lot more to come; greenre was simply a must-have guest name on the roster of speakers when Products of Change delivers its Sustainability 101 sessions as part of the Licensing University at the Las Vegas Licensing Expo this year. And that’s what we’re delivering. It's greenre’s CEO, Keith Loiselle who will be joining Products of Change’s Helena Mansell-Stopher and the team’s North America and Canada Ambassadors, Andrea Green and Brenda Seto, as well as the experts from the Australian fashion brand, Piping Hot, to deliver a session on the importance of a brand with purpose and the complexities of sustainable manufacturing. With all that in mind, it was about time Products of Change got some time in with Keith to delve a little deeper into his company’s journey with sustainability, and where it’s heading next.
Keith Loiselle, CEO of Greenre pictured with the United Nations flag, having been named a member of the United Nations Compact
Hello Keith, it’s fantastic to catch up with you. Let’s start with an overview - greenre works with some of the biggest brands in the children’s space today, a major coup for the sustainability cause, quite literally putting it in the hands of children and parents. Meanwhile, your mission statement is to transform global brands and build a circular economy model. How are you setting out to achieve this? Well, greenre is working towards a sustainable strategy that includes a circular economy model. We are focusing on eco-design and our category refinement within forming a whole, based on materials and category. Understanding our core materials better than anyone is the future of our eco product design and product innovation. Getting to a circular economy is going past the standards that are being implemented by the market players and looking at all the product materials to ensure we are not applying any environmental pressure. Using jute rope instead of plastic hangtag fasteners is an example. It’s not easy, but we are seeing results in our efforts and are excited to further our commitments. In manufacturing there is a term called running change and we believe that our authentic circular economy route course will fit this industry-known term. We are formulating a circular economy model by utilising waste streams, eco-design, understanding end-of-life and tree planting within every operations. The result is unprecedented carbon off-setting effects that are outpacing our initial expectations. Well it sounds great. Why did you guys eye this market – the licensed stationery market – in particular as one to crack for sustainability in this way? We believed as fans ourselves, that brands can change the world. Hitting the market at this core is a perfect vehicle for change, education and a position for kids’ understanding. It’s a teachable moment for parents to utilise as well. It's rather apparent that greenre is a company that has been established with sustainability first. What put you on this pathway and inspired you to create the brand? Coming back into manufacturing after being away for a handful of years, I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to be purposeful and feel good about what I was doing. It was clear that we were heading to a tipping point for the climate and we just want to be a part of the solution. I have a family of three young kids and wanted to help provide them with a better future for the environment. And what has that experience been like? What have been some of the biggest milestones you have achieved on the sustainability journey so far? Learning the depth of our metrics really moved us to understand the level of good we were doing. We outpaced our expectations early on. We are calculating in the negative. This means we by far contributing to carbon extraction more so than our business is creating: this being that we are part of the United Nations Compact and now part of the UN Climate Accelerator Programme. We will effectively now be able to publish our success in a more measurable way that is supported globally with approved methods like the United Nations seeks serious sustainable companies to adhere to.
Keith Loiselle and the greenre ensemble meet for a team photo via Zoom
What is exciting you the most in the sustainability space right now? How do you see these developments fitting in with what greenre is delivering? For our company, I am most excited about seeing what comes out of our team when we are firing on all cylinders. Covid affected everyone and all things. We were no different. For the industry as a whole, under hard parameters comes the best innovations. We hope to lead in this area and look forward to seeing what amazing companies and product developers bring to the table. What do you think the future of sustainable retail looks like? What role will brands have to play in this? Great change and also pivots. We don’t know what the effect of mass supply looks like with current and new changes. What is good for sustainability today may look different tomorrow or next year. We are talking about major volumes in commodities when we talk about CPG. What are you guys working on now, anything you’d like to shout about or tease us with? So many things. Our brand is growing, taking route and our development is refining daily. Our plastic-free packaging is exciting and our use of post-industrial raw materials is being applied and is exploratory for new products and packaging. You will have to wait and see what we are bringing to the market in 2023.
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