15 July 2022

Steenbergs Sustainability & BCorp Impact Report 2021

Steenbergs first impact report since we achieve B Corp covers the sustainability areas at the core of Steenbergs' ethics.

Steenbergs Sustainability & BCorp  Impact Report 2021

Sophie and I have been committed to running a microbusiness in herbs, spices and flavours, with people and the planet at its core since we began in 2003. Since the outset, we have been organic, the first in Fairtrade spices, and operating as a business where everyone is paid the same and everyone has hands-on involvement. We are already carbon net zero in our business so now are moving on to reducing our transport impacts. We became BCorp to our certifications to integrate others ways of thinking about how we can improve our commitments to a better place for nature and people.


We applied to BCorp in 2019 but because of the Covid pandemic, the audit process did not commence until 2022, and we received certification in May.

Our BCorp Scores were:

2021 ScoresBenchmark - Size
2021 Total Score89.681.6



Our objective is to reduce our carbon emissions in line with climate science and a 1.5C target, and to achieve net-zero by 2030 by removing residual CO2e. The aim is to decouple our business from increasing carbon emissions and to provide our customers low carbon intensity products. This begins with being focused on plant products, everything is vegetarian and vegan.

To achieve this, we have calculated how to achieve this and set our first objective to reduce our direct carbon costs to zero by 2025. We define ‘direct carbon costs’ as Scope 1, Scope 2, and controllable Scope 3 emissions (travel, sewerage, waste). We set our carbon targets in 2018, with 2016 as the baseline:

Plan for 2016 - 2025Target in 20252021
Reduction in direct carbon costs-85%-98%
Reduction in carbon costs of direct energy usage-100%-100%
Reduction in net carbon cost-100%=100%

We achieved these targets ahead of schedule in three main ways

  1. We have installed solar panels on our warehouse units, which contribute about 40% of our energy needs.
  2. We have switched all our grid-sourced electricity to zero carbon energy suppliers.
  3. We have a woodland creation project in Wales that is soaking up over 12,000 tonnes of carbon.

So, in 2021, our scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions were 0 tonnes CO2e, and direct carbon costs were 0.3 tonnes CO2e before carbon offset, down from about 14 tonnes CO2e in 2016. With an annualized carbon sequestration of 125 tonnes, we have a negative carbon cost of -125 tonnes CO2e in 2021.

Our second objective is to tackle the carbon costs from distribution (our indirect Scope 3 emissions), and this is the new focus of our environmental plans. We have set the target of net-zero by 2030 for Scope 3 emissions by reducing direct carbon costs from deliveries and removing any residual CO2e.

As we rely on transport to get our organic spices to our customers, we have a responsibility to help reduce the carbon footprint of distribution. The main way we keep our carbon intensity down is that we have no distribution vehicles and only use grouped deliveries through couriers and pallet networks, so carbon costs are shared across many deliveries, the distributors optimize their routing and empty vehicles are kept as close to nil as possible.

We have reduced the carbon costs of package deliveries as low as we can, using the Royal Mail and DPD. Royal Mail has the lowest direct carbon footprint at 193 g CO2e per packet, and DPD is net carbon zero per packet; both have electric vehicles within their fleet. The next step is to address our pallets, which will be somewhat trickier.

Other actions taken: solar tubes and clear corrugated panels fitted to use sunlight (2016); all lighting switched to LED (2019); motion sensors for lighting (2019) with sensitivity reduced (2020); server switched off at weekend (2020); solar battery installed (2021); electric car charging points installed (2022); new hot water boiler installed (2022).


Our objective is to minimize the use of water within the business, and we have set ourselves the target of reducing water usage by 25% by 2025.

2021 was a disaster for water use because we had two leaks at 6 Hallikeld Close due to the cold weather in February. So, water use grew by 25% to 154 cubic metres of water.

Since then, we have installed rainwater harvested water for the toilets in 6 Hallikeld Close and water use has returned to a more normal level. Water use is -13% below use in the first half of 2021, excluding February.

Actions taken: low flush toilets (2016); rainwater harvesting (2021); smaller hot water boiler installed (2022).


We recognize that there is a biodiversity emergency. Biodiversity is the variety of all living things on Earth and how they fit together in the web of life, bringing oxygen, water, food and countless other benefits.

Scientific studies indicate that UK is one of the world’s most nature-depleted countries, with on average about half its biodiversity left, far below the global average of 75%. It means the UK is the most depleted of the G7 countries and in the bottom 10% globally for biodiversity. Since 1970, there has been on average an almost 70% decline in the populations of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians.

As our products are grown, we recognise that they have a negative impact on biodiversity and that we have a responsibility to minimise our impacts on biodiversity.

Some of this comes through our carbon reduction and water-saving programmes, but core to our approach to saving biodiversity is being organic and committed to organic farming and with a focus on vegan products only.

Organic is about working with nature, conserving and improving the soil, being firmly against GMO and removing all agrochemicals from the growing of our products and keeping processing chemicals out of all our products. We are committed to real food, with no nasties and nothing hidden. Over 80% of our products are organic with the remainder pesticide-free plants or additive-free chemicals, like salt, for example.

We are, also, working within our woodland creation project to survey it to have a scientific baseline of its biodiversity so we can plan how best to manage the woodland to make way for nature.

Actions taken: living roof installed (2019); grass alongside building allowed to grow (2021); biodiversity baseline surveys at wood (2021, 2022).


We recognize that one of the biggest impacts we have relates to the waste we generate here in our factories and the waste that our products create. Our objective is to reduce the waste here and to reduce the amount of plastic within our business, and we apply the reuse – recycle – energy recovery hierarchy as the basis for decisions on waste.

Our annual waste is 11 – 12 tonnes a year, of which 65% is recycled, 35% is waste-to-energy, and 0% to landfill.

In terms of Steenbergs, we are zero waste to landfill, and have been zero waste to landfill since 2010. Originally, the trade waste that was not recycled went to the Netherlands but since 2018 this has travelled 10 miles down the road to the Allerton Park Waste Recovery Plant, operated by Amey, which supplies energy to about 40,000 homes.

All our internally generated cardboard, paper, glass and metal is recycled by Yorwaste. All non-recyclable waste (trade waste) is collected by Yorwaste and used as feedstock for energy at the Allerton Park Waste Recovery Plant. In addition, hair nets, plastic arm covers, plastic film and our employees’ crisp packets, etc. are recycled by Terracycle. In terms of plastic within Steenbergs, plastic sacks and blue drums that have been in contact with spices, etc., go through trade waste, but the clear drums for extracts are washed and then recycled.

Wooden pallets are reused pallets either purchased from a local pallet firm or from deliveries that we receive. Likewise, we reuse a lot of cardboard packaging as protective packaging in delivery boxes to retail customers; we simply break down transit boxes for deliveries and cut these down to convenient shapes and sizes.

In terms of our products and packaging, we use materials that have as little plastic in them as possible, use sustainable materials and include as much recycled materials as possible. We monitor these and seek to reduce the level of virgin materials as far as possible.

The core of our range is packed in glass. The glass has 50 – 60% recycled content. The lids do not contain any recycled content. Both the glass and lids can be reused, or they can be recycled in kerbside recycling.

We provide bulk product in paper bags that are compostable. This does not cover all spices as some of them do require a plastic barrier for protection against water damage from the air, for example garlic and onion powders which are both hygroscopic, so these are packed in plastic bags that cannot be recycled. There is some downside in using paper bags, because the products can become tainted by smells from other products in our factory, stores or homes, but we believe the upside in reducing plastic is greater than this potential downside.

We do pack teas, stuffings and mulled spices products in film. Our core material is a plastic-free film that is home compostable. However, we recognize that some of our retail customers, as well as the UK government, do not agree with us that this makes the most sense for the environment, so when requested we do pack some products in polyethylene or polypropylene film.

In terms of transit, we pack in corrugated cardboard boxes. The recyclate in these varies from 63 – 100% depending on the specific requirements for the box. We do not use plastic for protective packaging and use a variety of paper-based materials and reused cardboard to prevent breakages. Because we use paper rather than plastic, it does mean we get a few extra breakages in transit than we would like, but we prefer to keep plastic out of our packaging so far as possible.

Actions taken: zero waste to landfill (2010 & 2018); removed plastic seal on teas and stuffings (2020); reduced plastic for refills and bulk products and switched to plastic free for most ingredients (2020); provided home compostable plastic-free film as core material for teas, stuffings and mulled spices (2020); switched to recycled plastic ribbons for Old Hamlet fabric bags (2021).


We are a very small business, with a small impact on the environment, but we recognize that we have a responsibility in how we run our business both to minimize our impacts on the earth and to provide our customers with the best product in terms of sustainability that they can find. Also, we realize that simply managing the business in an environmentally better, corporate way is not enough for us. So, we have grappled with what more we can do positively to impact the environment.

Our chosen route is to create a new woodland here in the UK. This is a very personal choice and there are many different answers to the problem, but we all must decide – whether, or not, it will be proven correct in the future – because to doing nothing is not an option.

For us, a new wood answers how we can go beyond reducing our environmental impacts and reduce our dependence on offsets. It addresses carbon costs, air pollution, water pollution, flooding, biodiversity loss and land use changes.

The wood is being created on over 50 acres of former farmland in Carmarthenshire. About half of this has been planted with new trees, almost 30,000 new trees, which will sequester about 12,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide over the 100-year lifetime of the project. In addition, it reverses historic land use changes by reverting pasture for dairy and sheep to woodland, and it keeps coal in the ground as these trees are above coal reserves that almost leak coal from the earth.

The soil is wet and there are five streams that cut across the wood. The trees and plants create a rougher land surface, and the roots interfere with water movement across the surface, so reducing flood risk in the neighbouring valley and town. Also, the leaves clean the air, and the roots filter the water, reducing local air and water pollution.

How it will address biodiversity loss is more complex, but we have time to work it through.

The woodland, itself, comprises older trees in shelterbelts, lone trees, hedges, and areas where the hedges have expanded into the fields. The older trees are a mix of native trees, ranging in age 30 – 200 years old, and include alder, birch, blackthorn, cherry, crabapple, hazel, holly, oak, poplar, rowan, and willow. The newer trees are a mix of native trees, about 5 years old, that includes alder, crack willow, downy birch, elder, field maple, rowan, and sessile oak.

As regards other plants and animals, we are undertaking biodiversity surveys to develop a baseline. This will enable us to include ways of helping nature in the woodland creation plan. As a starter, though, we have set aside 3 acres (6%) to be a meadow, plus there will be a series of rides and glades.

Actions taken: trees planted (2017, 2019, 2021, 2022); biodiversity and other scientific surveys (2020 – 2022).


We recognize that words are just words, so we keep you updated with what we are doing through social media and the blog, which includes photos and data. Also, we are audited under a number of schemes that validate what has been written in this impact report:

Finally, the wood is operated under the Welsh Government Glastir Scheme and the carbon sequestration calculations are verified under the Forestry Commission’s Woodland Carbon Code. As such, the wood has been (and will continue to be) visited and reviewed by government agencies.