05 May 2022

Steenbergs achieves B Corp certification

Steenbergs is pleased to have become one of over 700 UK B Corp businesses, showing that we’re dedicated to using business as a force for good.

Steenbergs achieves B Corp certification

Steenbergs is pleased to have become one of over 700 UK B Corp businesses, showing that we’re dedicated to using business as a force for good.

We’ve finally completed the journey to becoming a B Corp business. We submitted our application back in December 2019, but then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the whole process became somewhat delayed. But we’re there now.

So, what is a B Corp business?

It is a business that chooses voluntarily to be held accountable to higher standards of social and environmental transparency. And as we have always been working to our own set of higher values, we were attracted by the idea of getting our approach validated as being genuinely good and demonstrably better for the world.

The B Impact Assessment forms the core of the accountability process. This Assessment includes a long set of detailed questions that challenges how you conduct your business operations internally and externally. Evidence must be provided for each answer to justify the response, and these are verified by B Corp analysts through three rounds of assessments.

On top of that, Impact Business Models look even deeper at your business model, identifying whether and, if so, how your business is making a positive impact socially and environmentally, for example Steenbergs went down the Toxin Reduction Model route because of our focus on organic. Minimizing our environmental impact is both Sophie and my key driver for our business. For example, we have direct relationships with organic growers in India, Portugal, Spain, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam, and are looking further to widen that network.

Looking back on the process, we should have made more of the Fairtrade supply chains that we created as well as the fact that we were instrumental in developing the Fairtrade spices category within the Fairtrade movement – but we forgot about that!

During the period since we applied, we have been continued working on our environmental impact. So, we’ve put in more solar, switched to zero carbon electricity and installed rainwater harvesting for our toilets. These are part of our ambitious targets to reduce our footprint – we’ve already achieved carbon neutrality for direct impacts (Scopes 1 & 2) and are now looking at driving down our scope 3 carbon costs. And to mitigate our carbon costs that we’ve not yet driven out of our business model, we’ve been planting trees in our wood – 1,000 sessile oaks in 2021 and 30 crack willows and 4 crab apple trees last week, all from native stock grown in Wales.

We purposely made no changes to our business model prior to the Assessment because we wanted our first score to be the baseline validation of the Steenbergs way that underpins our branding. We have achieved a score of 89.9 which is okay as a starter.  From this baseline, we can then work hard on improving our score over the next 3 years, which is when recertification will begin.

We already have some ideas of where we can look to improve on the score, for example we don’t track the extra prices we pay for our Fairtrade spices over and above the market and we can continue to work towards 100% of staff on the Living Wage, as published by the Living Wage Foundation.

But times are hard at present, and it is proving difficult to maintain margins with many of our customers, including B Corp ones, resisting price rises despite costs going up a lot in the last few years, and especially since the Ukraine war. Nevertheless, we do see B Corp as a massive positive for Steenbergs and look forward to implementing further good changes to our business practices that fit in with the deeply-held values of both of us - that's Sophie and Axel Steenberg.