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CAB Highlights: Transforming industries for good

Get inspiration for how any leader can act beyond the limits of their own company and push for new industry standards.

Chiara Canetti, journalist
Chiara Canetti, journalist
October 26, 2020 | 7 min

On the 22nd of October, we hosted the second Climate Breakfast as a digital event. Over 300 members of our community from around the world gathered to discuss ways to transform their industries for good. Five trailblazing Leaders shared their experiences of cooperation with competitors, using their market strengths to influence partners, and calling for collective action to tackle the climate crisis.

Lawrence Leuschner: leading by example

The event started with the co-founder and CEO of TIER Mobility, who talked about his willingness to change the mobility industry for good. Since transportation is the main cause of CO2 emissions in the city, traffic jams and chaos, TIER Mobility was born to address these issues and create a new means of transportation that is sustainable, electric and affordable. Indeed, as Lawrence Leuschner explained:

Sustainability is the core of myself but also the core of the culture of TIER Mobility. The UN Sustainability Goals are the bases of our actions. (…) 1/3 of the rides are replacing car rides - this means we have a tremendous impact on our cities and traffic jams.

A lot of work has been done already to reach climate neutrality by offsetting all carbon emissions from production and transportation in Europe and now working towards becoming carbon negative.

Going even further, beyond the limits of their company, TIER Mobility reached out to competitors and teamed up with Dott and Voi to build new standards for sustainability within the industry. As Lawrence concluded:

Sustainability is actually helping companies to be more sustainable, that means more capital efficient, more profitable for the long term. (…) This approach can change the mobility industry for good.

Sinja Stadelmaier: the power of creativity

Sinja Stadelmaier is the co-founder of The Female Company, which aims to provide sustainable period products. She talked about how challenging it was to try to change a sector that has not seen innovation for decades.

By outsmarting the old system, they were able to influence the industry. The Female Company was the first company to initiate a petition with the goal to reduce the tax on tampons in Germany. They took a very creative approach and created The Tampon Book to highlight how period products should not be considered “luxury goods” and therefore taxed at the top rate of 19 percent. Instead, they should be taxed as regular daily necessities at 7 percent. Just like books! That’s why they put tampons inside of a book and tried to deliver it to every table in the Bundestag. Around 200k individuals signed this petition, and they gained a lot of support from the media and influencers.

Through this outside-the-box thinking, they influenced German politicians and managed to achieve the tax reduction within 10 months. As Sinja Stadelmaier highlighted:

This case shows that we are able to change things and we are able to change laws if we join forces together.

Hubertus Bessau: why competitors should join forces

The co-founder of MyMuesli, Hubertus Bessau, told us why they take the opportunity to work together with their competitors to reach the same goal, instead of being an obstacle to each other. He stated:

Why should competitors join forces? Competition is a really good thing that drives innovation and brings us forward and brings progress to the world. But there are some problems that are too big to tackle alone and the climate crisis we are facing is one of them.

For example, MyMuesli joined a campaign called Hey Bundestag! initiated by Oatly. Their petition was created to highlight the necessity of having a common way to calculate emissions, so that they would be comparable across products, and make it obligatory to disclose carbon footprints on every food product packaging, so that consumers can choose consciously. Even though MyMuesli have their own plant-based milk brand, which is a close competitor to Oatly, they fully supported the campaign through their marketing channels. Five more companies did the same: Freche Freunde, fritz-kola, FRoSTA, Rügenwalder Mühle, and Veganz. Thanks to cooperation among these companies, the petition successfully gathered 57k signatures and thus exceeded the amount that was needed to secure Bundestag attention.

As a result of the campaign, there was a hearing with the Bundestag on the 14th of September 2020, in which Oatly’s co-general manager presented the case for making CO2e food labels a law. We are looking forward to hearing the decision made by Germany’s politicians.

Michael Schweikart: re-thinking industry standards

Michael Schweikart co-founded a completely sustainable bank, the Tomorrow Bank, and he talked about how money and banks are connected to the climate crisis. He analysed the non-sustainable and non-ethical behaviour of most banks and showed us how they are financing destructive industries and companies that most of their customers are not aware of.

Since the Paris Agreement (2016), the leading banks have invested more than 2,700 billion dollars into the fossil fuel industry. (…) Most of us prefer organic food, we have green electricity, we try to reduce flying, but when it comes to money we stop caring; and this is what we want to change, we want to change the way we bank.

To tackle this problem, Tomorrow Bank wants to offer an easy and authentic alternative to regular banks, by being transparent and investing only in sustainable projects or industries, such as organic farms, renewable energy, micro credits, and social housing.

Their app constantly offers new features that can help customers to make more climate-friendly decisions and to be mindful of their footprint. However, Michael Schweikart, clarified that it is not only the consumers’ responsibility, but that the role of politics and regulations is also essential in changing the industry.

Niklas Östberg: the constructive power of ethical investments

At Delivery Hero, sustainability has been a priority since day one. There is a very high level of engagement and passion in the company, and for them it is very important to take responsibility in the face of climate change.

Starting with themselves, Delivery Hero set a goal to be operationally climate neutral by 2021. As Niklas said, it is not as easy as it sounds to make something completely sustainable, but they are putting a lot of effort into achieving this goal.

Sustainability in the company is divided in four areas: environment, sustainable investment, suitable packaging, and giving back. All of these areas influence not only the company’s operations, but also other industry players and customers too.

They invest in food and packaging innovations, and are planning to convince more and more restaurants to use them. For example, in 2020 they’ve invested in four promising innovations: Bio-lutions (biodegradable packaging), Wisefood (alternative to plastic straws), Just (plant-based eggs), and Impossible Foods (plant-based meat).

During Hero month, the company engages in volunteer work and supports charity organisations. Moreover, as a part of their social initiatives, Delivery Hero partners with WFP and ShareTheMeal to fight hunger and help the most vulnerable. Niklas Östberg concluded:

We want to do good because we want to do good; and companies that do good can also benefit from doing good themselves. If we can have a positive impact on people, behaviour, and engagement, then there is even more good we can do.

You can do the same

To conclude this inspiring and motivating event, Ferry Heilemann, Co-founder of LFCA gave a final piece of advice on how to accelerate climate action, starting from now: Leverage your user-base: help your customers to make sustainable choices and drive their own climate action journey Cooperate with other industry players: form alliances to pressure your suppliers into achieving sustainability Communicate your climate actions: raise your voice to be heard by politicians and the public

Right after the event, we received dozens of messages from our community members, who felt inspired and had already started thinking about similar initiatives to run in their own industries. This is truly the best result that we could hope for! Tell us about any initiatives that you are taking - we’d love to hear about them: