A case study into actionable and sustainable practices for SMEs
The concept of environmental sustainability and corporate responsibility has long been seen as great PR opportunity for multi-million euro turnover businesses, but a social conscience is not just for the ultra-brands. For over 10 years, a humble fruit delivery company called Fruitful Office.co.uk has provided a reliable and efficient service delivering fruit baskets to offices across much of Europe.
They’ve been chosen as the focus in this case study as they’ve committed to an array of socially conscious agendas that have made tangible positive impacts over the last decade, while at the same time the company have leveraged these endeavours to help grow their influence and subsequently their customer base.
Below we’ve broken down the salient ethical policies of Fruitful Office to (hopefully) to inspire other SMEs on how best to make positive social impacts within their own businesses that lead to ‘win-win’ situations.
Environmentally conscious use of materials and processes at each stage of operation.
99% of the material in their wicker fruit baskets are eco-friendly, i.e. it is biodegradable or
recyclable, and they’re working on the other 1% as we speak.
The baskets are hard wearing and re-used for future deliveries, reducing packaging waste.
The transparent wrapping used not only protects the fruit, but is also biodegradable.
Both the basket tag and the paper lining in each basket are made of recycled paper.
They recycle all cardboard and plastic waste, instead of sending to landfill.
They use an innovative eco-friendly delivery route system to minimise the number of journeys delivery staff need to make.
They issue all ‘paperwork’ to clients electronically in pdf format, as part of efforts to use as little paper as possible.
Socially responsible relationships with local suppliers and charities.
Around two thirds of their fruit comes from local producers. The only reason that this figure is not higher is simply that some fruits do not grow in European climates. This way, they support home-grown fruit producers and seek to minimise the fuel emissions associated with long-haul transport.
Each week excess fruit is repackaged and delivered to zoos, charitable projects and less privileged nursery and primary schools. The brand have been affiliated with the Fare Share charity for many years now, helping convert unused fruit into meals for the homeless.
A second charity partnership, with Ripple Africa ensures for every fruit basket distributed to an office, Fruitful Office also plant one fruit tree in the East African country of Malawi. This helps alleviate the problems of deforestation and climate change and provides vital extra income to deprived communities in Malawi. If you want to know more about how this project is progressing, they offer a quarterly update to their clients regarding exactly how many trees have been planted.
A mission statement that communicates their desire to go ‘beyond profit’.
The Fruitful mission statement is very clear they’re not just a commercial service provider seeking to make a profit.
“We are genuinely pleased to think we may have improved the health of office workers up and down the country by helping them cut down on sugary snacks by switching to fruit instead.“
They are quick to tout the plethora of benefits to be had from eating more fruit and adopting healthy lifestyle changes at work. Each client receives an A2 size poster they can display in their office next to the fruit basket, explaining the different health benefits of each type of fruit.
The Fruitful brand have, on numerous occasions, publicly advertised the positive impressions that different employees of the companies they deliver to think about having these regular deliveries, these reviews typically use percentages to add a sense of credibility and substance to the positive impact of their service. Examples below:
79% of those surveyed said eating Fruitful Office produce made them feel more valued as an employee
81% said that the fruit deliveries had improved ‘quality of life’ in the office
70% said they were now eating more fruit than was the case before the deliveries commenced
45% said that as a result of having fruit readily available in the office, that they had reduced their consumption of more unhealthy types of snacks
87% of UK employees said they would prefer to work for a company that offers health and well-being support.
This concludes our case study. To summarise I’ll leave you with our three main headings for consideration:
- Environmentally conscious use of materials and processes.
- Socially responsible relationships with local groups. suppliers and charities.
- A mission statement and working goal to go ‘beyond profit’.
I hope it serves as a useful guide to help managers and business owners realise untapped avenues they can adopt to improve both their business growth and their net impact on the world in general.