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Harpers Sustainability Charter: Reaching a higher standard

Published:  05 December, 2022

Almost one year on from the launch of the Harpers Sustainability Charter, Jo Gilbert surveyed its signatories to find out how much progress has been made on lowering carbon footprints.

From the outset, one of the key pillars of the Harpers Sustainability Charter has been carbon footprint reduction. Of course, there is so much more to ‘sustainability’ than just carbon mitigation. A truly effective approach spans the use of renewable energy, recycling and waste/water management, among other things; alongside the management of staff welfare and progression in a social context. All of these pillars and more, inform the charter, which we launched at the beginning of 2022, as part of a growing awareness and understanding of the importance of sustainability matters: how the industry must push itself to a higher standard going forwards – and the role that publishing platforms like Harpers can play in that journey.

However, the impact of carbon on our ecosystems cannot be overstated. The earth’s atmosphere is on target to rise by more than 1.5°C over pre-industral levels – a deceptively low number, which has already created regional and seasonal temperature extremes, while wreaking havoc on fragile ecosystems. If, as an industry, we are to do our bit to substantially reduce global greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, then the will to make meaningful change remains of utmost importance.

As a result, it is hugely encouraging to see the advances already made by our signatories, who have made strides prior to, and during, their commitment to the Charter.

We can see from these results, that work continues at pace to improve carbon minimisation and mitigation, with many accelerating that objective into the future. Work to improve those mitigation efforts are coming from all sorts of directions too, from across the supply chain. Also interesting to note is the level of importance ascribed to this journey by customers. Bar none, businesses described the interest from consumers as ‘important’ and influential to buying habits. Within this tier of importance, responses ranged from ‘very’ to ‘vital’.

Going forwards, we will continue to check in with our signatories on advances made in other areas of
the Charter and will report back on the findings.

What is the single biggest change/area that has allowed you to reduce your carbon footprint in your sustainability journey so far?

  • Development of new facility with 2 megawatts of solar, which will create around 1.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.
  • When the facility is complete, it is estimated that, overall (new solar and existing on-site wind turbines combined), the business will generate more than 7 million kilowatt hours per year of clean, renewable energy.
  • Taking on more vineyards and therefore increasing carbon sequestration.
  • Changing the business model to seek production of our products nearer to their markets instead of relying on UK production.Reduction of energy and changes to travel behaviour.
  • Bulk shipping in logistics and LED lighting in premises.For the office, increased insulation and improved heating/cooling systems. Use of conferencing technology to reduce the number of journeys made.
  • The introduction of electric vehicles to the company’s delivery fleet and sales team transport.
  • Improvements in the following areas: waste to landfill, electricity and freight.Planning horizons and investment (having a long-term plan).
  • Energy efficiency.

How important is it to communicate to your customers about your sustainability progress and why?

  • Extremely important. Customers are seeking to reduce their products’ carbon footprint.

  • Sustainability is at the forefront of our communications. It has been so important to us as a company since our foundation in 1995. We also know sustainability is incredibly important to our customers.

  • We are very proud to now be an accredited B Corp, which will really help us with our customer communications and validation of our journey and credentials – B Corp being a global movement of purpose-driven business, balancing people, planet and profit as a force for good.

  • Very. Our products’ USP in their market is their relative gentleness on the planet versus all the other competitors.

  • Very. We are keen to share our aims and progress in an effort to encourage our customers to do the same.

  • There has been a movement over recent years that has seen consumers actively seeking out companies that are responsible and sustainable.

  • We know that becoming a sustainable company is a journey, but we want to make sure our customers know it is something we are taking seriously as we understand the importance of having a positive impact on the planet.

  • Important. To foster customer and consumer buy-in. Shining a light on what we have achieved so far and with our plans going forward.

  • We have found very positive feedback when communicating our sustainability progress with our customers on social media and through newsletters.

  • Very. To show that we have independent certifications to prove our wines are 100% certified sustainable and that we are a certified carbon-zero producer. This means customers can purchase our wines with confidence and enjoy them knowing they have made a great choice for the planet.

  • Vital. We need to demonstrate that we too are on the sustainability journey.

  • Achievement of our plan requires buy-in across the entire supply chain – we can’t achieve the plan by ourselves. We are also not going to solve climate change in isolation.