Danilo is reducing the use of plastic in calendars
Danilo's Claire Bates and Dan Grant talk to Products of Change about the company's commitment to sustainability and how retailers, licensors and licensees can come together to deliver products that are commercial and sustainable.
What made you start to look at building more sustainable practices at Danilo?
Personal interest in the environment was certainly at the forefront of our sustainability project, but an inspirational talk by Sir David Attenborough at a BBC event really made us think how Danilo as a business could contribute towards a more sustainable future.
I think we took a step back and looked at the bigger picture of biodiversity and climate change from a business perspective. Day to day business is so fast paced that you can often miss opportunities to improve the ways in which you operate. What we realised was there was quite alot we could do to help the situation just on a day to day basis as well as in the longer term. That was the first step.
Other factors such as legislation and government targets, alongside retailer and licensor initiatives helped Danilo commit to a more sustainable future and align with other companies on the same path.
What did you focus on to start the journey?
Initially identifying that there was an opportunity for Danilo to become more sustainable was the first step on this journey and secondly was presenting the case and getting support from senior management. This was a vital part in the process, as if you don’t have this from the very beginning then any initiative isn’t going to work.
Having received fantastic support from within the business, we then started the process by conducting an internal audit to assess our current position to identify the gaps between that initial starting point and where we wanted to be.
To help us create this audit and decide the next steps ourselves, we researched key learnings and sought advice from other environmental organisations in order to work out the opportunities that were available for small business such as Danilo to implement. So for example, we were able to obtain a grant to help with the cost of installing LED lighting throughout the office.
We also started to engage with other like- minded companies to gain insight into what they’ve done and what we could learn from them.
What have you achieved so far?
We are delighted with what the whole Danilo team has achieved so far in such a short period of time.
Some of the key achievements we have made so far are:
- Packaging – we have reduced cello wrap on cards by 85% and calendars by 30% and still looking at ways to continue to reduce this further
- Design of products – we’re moving away from non-recyclable finishes cards and gift wrap and use of plastics in our calendars and diaries e.g last year the desk block calendars were redesigned to be completely plastic free and recyclable.
- We are currently using 99% FSC in our portfolio but looking to achieve 100% FSC this year on calendars, diaries and cards
- We introduced an internal recycling system in the office
- We moved over to full LED lighting in the office
- Our tree planting scheme with Ecologi has so far achieved over 23k trees since September 2020
- We have started an internal green team to drive sustainability even further within the business
- We’ve added clear recycling labels to calendars and diaries and moving to add them to all products
How has Covid changed your sustainable decisions, has Covid helped push the agenda?
We have all seen the devastating effect that Coronavirus has had so far on our industry and in particular, SME’s and independents, so think a lot of companies including Danilo have had to prioritise financial stability.
However, while that has been important, we have tried to find the right balance between financial necessity and sustainable responsibility, taking into consideration that retailers and licensors are still wanting to work together with us to increase sustainable practice.
COVID-19 has shown us though how we can respond quickly to a crisis, and that industry collaboration is an achievable goal. So, in reality, the result of the pandemic has been to actually accelerate the need for deliberate action against climate change. This is supported by research commissioned by the Carbon Trust in 2020 showing that 70% of companies interviewed said that environmental management and/or sustainability priorities are likely to become ‘somewhat more important’ or ‘significantly more important’ for them as a result of Covid-19.
How are retail reacting / licensors reacting?
I’m really pleased that retailers, licensors and the licensing industry are getting firmly behind the sustainability movement. It now feels like we are all starting to move in the same direction, which will help to deliver products that meet the expectations of all the parties involved and ultimately deliver a sustainable product to the consumer.
My one hope is that where sustainability initiatives do create additional production costs for the licensee, that retailers and licensors can work with the licensee to share this additional burden. If we don’t get to that point then I believe this could be a real hurdle in achieving our goal. It’s a three way process and we all have to support it.
What has been the biggest positive to Danilo by building sustainable practices?
Seeing how we are making a difference has made us feel incredibly proud and inspired real enthusiasm within the business. For example, the number of trees we have planted so far with Ecologi since September has been fantastic.
But most importantly, by prioritising sustainability at the heart of the business, and moving towards a circular economy, it has already begun to infiltrate and develop the way that we, as a company, really think about how we design, create and use our products. To change a company’s mindset and process can be a hard ask, but we are delighted to really see a united mentality on sustainability coming though at Danilo.
In addition, trying to get a more sustainable message across to educate consumers about what can be done with our products once used, is a positive directive we are keen to keep promoting. Showcasing the secondary use around our products so they are not just viewed as disposable products. For example, products such as the deluxe calendar, oversized calendar and postcard desk calendar have been created with the idea of the images being reused once the calendar year has finished and our advent calendars and my first activity calendars have also been designed to be reused again and again.
What is the future of sustainability for you, what’s next?
Danilo’s overall strategic objective is to become climate positive by 2024 but within that, there are many individual goals we want to achieve, and these are split into the three areas of people and profit and planet.
From an environmental perspective, we are primarily looking to further integrate a circular economy and closed-loop system within the business. This will include actions such as to eliminate single use plastics, design products with reuse in mind, move to 100% FSC with the next step after that being recycled paper, add clear recycling labels to all our products and much more.
From an interaction perspective, engaging with the staff and getting them on board is crucial and our green team has been set up to continue to do just that.
Plus we will continue to collaborate with retailers and licensors to deliver products that are both sustainable and commercial.
Sustainability really does start with the individual and we can all make a difference in very simple ways, if this philosophy can then be brought into the workplace and applied to each and every task we do, then we are going to start seeing the right results.
Now is the time for businesses such as ours to make a real difference to the current climate emergency we face.