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August 02, 2008

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Wales and Somerset are pretty far away from where I live (the North East) and there's still a lot of country further north of me. So what's the carbon footprint in getting the smoothies to my door? Would it not have been more effective to have a bottling site in the North somewhere to service your northern distributors? If your crushed fruit is coming over from Holland, then it's one hell of a journey to (essentially) the south coast when there's a very well used transport route from Hull over to mainland Europe.

One assumes that from your bottling plants it would then go to the warehouse distributors of the sellers (eg, Sainsburys, Tescos, ASDA et al) and it's for them to get the cartons and bottles to where they need to go. And assuming for one moment that you only hand over your smoothies to the warehouses that are local to your bottling plants, is this just not passing the buck? And if you do send your smoothies all around the country, allowing shops and retailers all over the mainland to stock them, then what's that transport carbon footprint like? Because I'm betting that one chilled tanker will hold enough crushed fruit to make more than one lorry load of smoothies.

You are working towards a low carbon footprint which is applaudable, but it doesn't seem (to me) that you're helping others to do the same by having your "main sites [...] in Wales and Somerset to minimise transporting by road in the UK."

Supermarkets have started to actively promote local milk in an effort to do their bit. I go into my local Tesco of a morning and I buy milk that has come from a dairy farm that I could get to by lunch. Local products for local people. Why not have "local" smoothies?

If we are ALL serious about reducing our carbon footprint then the bigger picture needs to be looked at.

Besides; it's always colder up here than down south and that's gotta help with storage. ;o)

If that is the worst example of 'greenwash' the Daily Telegraph journalist can find, then they are not very investigative. And given that the majority of the text came from a press release from Rising Tide, it does make one wonder what the incentives are for publishing it.

If the 'paper was serious about tackling 'greenwash', there are a lot worst examples in UK and international businesses. So it becomes more about the politics of the 'paper and its editors, and their view of the readers' views - I wonder if there are people out there who would think 'I knew all this 'corporate responsibility' stuff was bunk, gets in the way of profits you know' upon reading this kind of thing rather than 'we should be doing more to tackle these issues, whatever the cost'.

I don't know if the Telegraph reported it, but there was another bit of 'greenwash' this week. What Car? launched its own green awards, highlighting and praising cars that are making less of an environmental impact than before, which is good and a useful way in trying to prompt companies to improve their products. But it remains that, particularly in London, the majority of personal car journeys are unnecessary and could be done on public transport or, gosh!, by foot or bicycle. And we're not going to start accusing Mark Cavendish of 'greenwash' are we?

My point is, there are some serious 'greenwash' offenders out there, and we, consumers and media alike, should be tackling them rather than making remarks about companies like Innocent who are at least making a great effort.

PS Why is it that cars are advertised near or in water, is it to make them appear more natural? Which is an odd suggestion to make when one considers the water used in the process of making cars.

Sorry we're not with you this year (older son's birthday) but I keep checking your site to see how things are going. Wishing you all the best - I believe that yesterday was excellent. And good luck with the fresh orange.

Hi,
Have you investigated using rail for moving your tanks around?
Also have you thought about biofuels?
What about a range of premium smoothies with only UK produce in them?
Or a set of smoothies made from green fruit called 'Green wash' for their inner detoxing effects?

It was interesting that the Daily Telegraph timed the story to coincide with the Innocent Village Fete.

Live and learn I guess, when you get as big as Innocent there is always someone trying to tear you down again.

Hello,

Sustainability Jess here – the one responsible for ensuring that at innocent we make our drinks with the least possible impact on people and the planet. Thanks for your comments on the Telegraph article – I wanted to answer some of your questions that you have raised.

We are really serious about reducing our carbon footprint. We have already completed two carbon audits of our entire supply chain, from farm to fridge as such, and are in the process of a third audit to see how we are doing. The first audit showed us that the majority of our footprint was caused by the virgin plastic in our bottle (we used 50% recycled PET then), so we worked really hard to introduce our 100% recycled plastic bottle, and achieved a 15% reduction in our footprint. The second largest impact area was the bottling of our drinks here in the UK, so we have been working really hard with our bottling partners to reduce energy usage and increase recycling. They have been achieving some great results, and one of the sites made the ultimate carbon commitment of buying 100% renewable energy (we love those guys).

When it comes to the carbon impact of transporting our smoothies, blending our drinks in Holland and transporting them in bulk across to the UK actually helps to reduce our carbon footprint. As Dan commented on the blog, a lot of our fruit is coming from Europe (apples from Germany, grapes from France and Italy, strawberries from Poland…), and our tropical fruit is coming by boat from Central America, India etc into the ports in Rotterdam. Rather than transport each fruit individually into the UK, it is actually more efficient to blend the fruit each day and transport it all together into the UK.

We are working with our logistics partners on how to reduce their environmental impacts. They are providing us with information on their fuel and energy usage, and sharing their actions plans on how to improve performance. Biofuels can be a good option when they are made from waste products (like used vegetable oils), but we need to be careful of fuel that is made from what is essentially a food (like corn) to make sure it is not depriving communities of much needed food or pushing up food prices. We are also looking at opportunities for using more rail, and continue to do so. It’s not a transport method that’s widely used for our fruits, but we aren’t going to give up that easily (after all, people told us we couldn't use 100% recycled plastic for our bottles).

As far as having local bottling plants, one up north, one in the Midlands etc. This definitely makes sense for local produce like milk as there are dairy farms dotted across the whole of the UK so it makes sense to get it from as close as possible – that’s not quite true for most of the fruit we use in our smoothies (bit chilly for pineapples here). We would actually use a lot more energy and fuel to have lots of little bottling sites across the UK, it’s the old story about bulk quantities being more efficient – smaller loads would mean more trucks going across the country without the full loads that we can organize for our current sites, plus we would not be able to work as closely with our bottling friends to get great results on energy and waste efficiency.

Local fruits? Well a lot of our fruits aren't grown here in the UK, however we have committed to pay up to a 10% premium for local fruits that are available in the variety and quality that we need, and last year we introduced our first UK fruits smoothie – damsons (from Herefordshire), apples (from Suffolk) and blackberries (from Essex). This is a seasonal smoothie and will be back later this year so watch out for it on shelf.

Hope that answers all your questions for now - if you have any more just give me a shout on hello@innocentdrinks.co.uk

Jess

"Some out of date information"? a company that relies on a green image can not make its consumers believe that it simply did not "update" its information. Sorry to hear these bad news - and draw the obvious conclusions...

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