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To B or not to B (Corp)

24 February, 2023

Ahead of B Corp month (where we’ll be sharing some of our favourite B Corps each week) we wanted to give voice to the other side of the coin.  

A recent article in the Financial Times raised the problem at the heart of the accreditation: is it right that Nespresso (owned by the conglomerate Nestlé) is awarded the same accreditation as a small community and quality-focused speciality coffee roasters?  

The problem being that there are significant differences between the environmental and social standards they follow.  

The fact that B Corp is the subject of a Financial Times feature is a testament to its growing impact within (and outside) the world of sustainability. But the reality is there are only around 1000 B Corps in the UK. Amongst the noise surrounding the strengths and weaknesses of the certification, it’s easy to forget the value in its primary intention – to allow people to make more informed and sustainable decisions about the products or services they are purchasing.  

A unifying certification scheme remains one of the most sensible and manageable approaches to achieve this. Separate accreditation schemes for bigger and smaller business will only further dilute awareness, which is vital to drive positive change. Yes, there will be differences between accredited companies in size, structure and product or service, but they should all meet a certain standard of social and environmental performance, albeit it may be put into action differently.  

It’s the role of the certification scheme to ensure that the criteria is robust and that larger businesses are held to account (as recently demonstrated with BrewDog). And we are completely in agreement with calls to strengthen the accreditation itself, specifically the requirements around supply chain mapping, particularly relevant to Nespresso and Nestlé. But it’s critical that we encourage big business to be a part of the movement. Arguably, that’s where we stand to have the biggest impact. 

By Budd Nicholson


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