How Envirom is transforming to circular material inputs
UN Global Compact Norway participant Envirom, based in Norway is a producer of liquid biofertilizer. One of the key raw materials it uses in its product is Leonardite; which shows excellent results in helping all types of crops to grow. Envirom produces in the US and markets to the coffee sector in Rwanda Kenya, Uganda and the UAE. Hanna Rommerud, the Chief Sustainability Officer, met with us and explained how Envirom is moving toward 100% renewable material inputs in packaging their product and how participating in our SDG Ambition Accelerator supported this journey.
Envirom were facing a problem because Rwanda, one of the countries it operates in, introduced a ban on single-use plastics. Their end-product, in this case, the fertilizer, comes in liquid form, which is then shipped in 1-liter or 5-liter plastic bottles. But Envirom wanted a better packaging solution that didn’t harm the environment as much as plastics do. «We were unsure how to start,» Hanna says. «I always feel like there is no end to learning new things, so when the SDG Ambition Accelerator came up, I immediately signed up.»
SDG Ambition is one of our 3-month accelerator programmes that challenges and supports participating companies to set ambitious targets and accelerate the integration of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into their core business management and operations.
»Before joining the programme, one of the business model ideas I explored to address the main challenge with our packaging was to re-use plastic bottles. I explored possibilities of delivering our product in a big container where customers could come and refill bottles and pay according to the amount. But I envisaged problems with logistics, as we are still a relatively small company, and the plastic bottles would still remain in the system, which we really wanted to avoid.»
During SDG Ambition, Envirom focused on 100% sustainable renewable material inputs. While brainstorming to find alternative solutions to their plastic bottles, they concluded that:
- Glass bottles are heavy and hard to recycle.
- Metal canisters are light but are expensive.
The solution Envirom arrived at was milk cartons or bag-in-boxes (i.e., cardboard wine casks). This solution reduces plastic use by 95%. It set a deadline of a two-year timeframe for phasing plastic bottles out of its supply chain.
«As a small company with finite resources, it takes time to incorporate the solution within our supply chain, but we are gradually getting there. We cannot change things overnight; it’s a work in progress.»
During the programme, SDG Ambition participants explore Key Design Decisions they can make around how they will use specific technologies, materials, processes, and approaches.
«We have been looking at a tool created by the Global Plastic Partnership to tackle the plastic waste pollution crisis. It addresses both upstream and downstream capacity gaps across behavior change, action roadmaps, recommendations, and delivery frameworks.»
Enhanced ways of working
«The different assessment tools we were given to diagnose the performance of the company have been beneficial for me. I used them as a working document, followed up, set deadlines, and created implementation plans. To get insights and ideas from others working in the organization, I also made a strategy document and formulated the points into questions, so that we could work through the issues together within our organization.
The whole programme made me more aware of everything you need to account for and helped me think of things that I would not have usually thought of in order to reach our goal. Our next step is to land a new packaging system and roll that out in our supply chain.»
Enlightening, educational and inspirational! SDG Ambition made me realize the importance of looking at where the solution would have an impact on the organization. I really liked the end, where we were taught how to make an impactful pitch. It was also great to hear from other companies and learn about their challenges.