In March 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Suma’s completed questionnaire for information about its approach to environmental reporting. It provided a copy of its 2019 yearbook, which outlined some of its social and environmental initiatives, in addition to providing a link to the 'our values' section of its website.

The company linked to a webpage about its ethics, which discussed Suma's funding of tree planting to offset its delivery fleet's emissions. It also discussed cutting down on and reusing waste materials. A questionnaire received in April 2019 also stated: "We calculate our carbon footprint on an annual basis, and have planted over 87,000 trees since 2003. Our ethics coordinator is working on a statement that meets the above criteria [outlined by Ethical Consumer], however this is not in place currently." The company did not address the environmental impacts from agriculture in its supply chain, for example from agrichemical inputs and land use. Nor did it address water use in its operations.

No future quantifiable environmental targets were found.

While the company did offer many environmental alternatives and was seen to be making continued progress, its turnover was too high to qualify for an exemption under Ethical Consumer's Environmental Reporting rating.

Suma received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for Environmental Reporting and lost a full mark in this category.


2019 Questionnaire (11 March 2019)

In March 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Suma’s completed questionnaire which shared a website link for information about the company's approach to toxic chemicals.

The 'Toxic Ingredients' page on Suma's website stated: "There are no parabens, triclosan or phthalates in Suma products". The company therefore received Ethical Consumer's best rating for its toxic chemicals policy.

Reference: (18 April 2019)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer received a completed questionnaire from Suma. The questionnaire stated that the company did not use any microplastics or non-biodegradable liquid plastic polymers in its products. As such the company was deemed to have a positive policy on the use of microplastics. This story has been marked as information only.

According to Beat the Microbead, there are more than 500 known microplastics ingredients that can be found in our personal care products such as toothpastes, face washes, scrubs and shower gels. They are tiny plastic particles that are added for their exfoliating properties, but sometimes purely for aesthetic purposes only.

According to a recent report by Code Check, non-biodegradable liquid polymers were also prevalent across a wide range of cosmetic products. Like microplastics, these materials degrade with a similar difficulty in the environment and may cause similar harm.

In 2018, the UK government banned the use of microbeads in toothpastes, shower gels and facial scrubs. However, some products classified as “leave on” were not subject to the ban, this would include lotions, sun cream and makeup, as well as abrasive cleaning products. This ban did not extend to non-biodegradable liquid polymers.


Company questionnaire (February 2020)

In March 2020 Ethical Consumer searched the Suma website for a policy on soya. No policy could be found. In April 2019, Suma returned a completed questionnaire, which included details of its soy policy. The company stated: "All bulk soy beans / flour are certified organic" and that this constituted 6 out of 7 lines or 87% of the soy used.

It was not a member of the Roundtable of Sustainable Soy, but explained: "We only buy finished products." In a previous questionnaire in February 2017, Suma had further stated: ""We only handle a small amount of soy. We are also concerned about the lack of indigenous or small farm representation, and the presence of GM producers on the RTRS, along with the fact that their standard allows GM crops to be defined as ‘responsible.'"

With regards to the use of GM, the company had sent the following policy: "To ensure the highest standards in the area of IP soya and GMO free products we are working together with Saatbau Linz (a seeding company) and Crop Control (specializes in controlling and certifying).

"Main points of the GMO monitoring and soybean contract system
• Contracts with farmers are only done with approved varieties of beans and on approved fields.
• Varieties of soybeans are only approved after the analysis of the seeds
• New varieties have to be grown in Austria for at least 3 years before the approval.
• Random sampling is conducted during the growing period. 50% of all farms are controlled during the year (seeds, fertilizers, production notes, risk evaluation etc.)
• Inspection of the warehouses/silos, separate storage, input-output control
• We take samples of every delivery to the warehouses/silos. These samples are kept until the GMO analysis and until the silos are cleared for deliveries to our factory.
• Average samples of the stored soybeans are taken and are analysed according to the specified qualities. After that the silo gets its clearance. Every raw material lot is tested on GMOs.
• On delivery to our factory a receiving inspection is done (including a cleaning certificate of the delivery trucks)
• We do an additional GMO analysis of the raw material stored in our factory.
"Once a month we take a random sample of different finished products for another GMO analysis.
All GMO test are done by one of the following accredited laboratories: b.i.s. analytics Linz Austria GmbH; IKB Berlin"

Suma was therefore considered to have a positive policy on the use of soy.


Questionnaire (30 April 2019)

In February 2020, Ethical Consumer searched Suma's website for information about its timber sourcing policy. The company sold a number of paper products.

The 'Packaging' page of the website stated, "We use 100% compostable wrap for our paper products. It is made from potato starch and totally biodegrades under the influence of soil based micro-organisms. Our paper products (toilet rolls, paper tissues and kitchen towels) are made from 100% recycled fibres sourced exclusively in the UK. No chlorine is used in the manufacture. We recycle all our cardboard waste within the UK. We reuse our boxes. Send them back and we’ll use them again."

It also had a partnership with Treesponsibility. On the 'Our Values' page of the website it stated:

"In partnership with environmental group Treesponsibility on their CO2mittment scheme, Suma plants in the region of 5,300 trees each year to offset the carbon produced by our fleet of delivery trucks. Native species are planted to lock carbon into the soil and at the same time providing a sustainable resource, by means of coppicing the plantation as it matures." The nascent woodlands we have planted already constitute a carbon sink capable of absorbing several thousand tonnes of CO2 over the next 50 years.

"Suma staff are given paid time to plant some of the trees and Treesponsibility also work with local schools and other groups to plant trees."

The company received Ethical Consumer's best rating for its timber sourcing policy.

Ethical Consumer's timber sourcing ranking required companies scoring a 'best' to cover six of the below issues:
1. Having a timber sourcing policy that covers all timber and timber-derived products
2. the exclusion of illegal timber or that sourced from unknown sources and...
3. ...a discussion on how a company ensures/ implements this
4. clear targets for sourcing timber from sustainably managed sources
5. a discussion of a good minimum standard
6. preference given to certified sources
7. a discussion about tropical hardwoods (THW) and the percentage of THW sourced that are FSC certified
8. involvement with a multi-stakeholder initiative or bridging programme such as the World Wildlife Fund- Global Forest Trade Network
9. use of reclaimed or recycled wood/ paper
10. a high total percentage (50%+) of FSC certified/recycled timber sourced by the company.

Suma received Ethical Consumer's best rating due to the fact all its paper products were sourced from recycled material from the UK. Therefore, at least 6 of Ethical Consumer's necessary criteria were considered covered, even if not explicitly stated, or not applicable. For example, a discussion about tropical hardwoods was not considered necessary as all paper products were sourced from the UK and not from virgin pulp.

Reference: (18 April 2019)

In March 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Suma’s completed questionnaire and website for information about the company’s palm oil sourcing. The page entitled, 'Palm Oil Statement' was viewed.

The company's questionnaire stated 'We only list products that contain palm oil if the palm oil is RSPO certified'.

The website provided more information:, "Where possible every care is taken to ensure we do not use palm oil or palm oil derivatives in our Suma Brand products. Where there is no viable alternative, we only use palm oil that has been RSPO certified. We know that certification is a complex issue and we will keep ourselves up to date with best practice and will work with suppliers to source organic and/or identity preserved palm oil.

"All Suma Brand products have been assessed by looking at the raw material ingredient specifications and by speaking to the suppliers of all Suma brand products to determine: type of palm oil, type of certification, percentage of palm in overall ingredients. We used this information to calculate the overall tonnage of palm products handled for Suma brand products and we will report on this yearly.

"Only 30 unique product lines out of our entire range of over 1300 Suma Brand products have palm oil in."

In March 2019, Suma returned a completed questionnaire, which provided figures for the palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm oil derivatives used. Suma was said to have used 17743.61kg of palm oil, all of which was sourced through RSPO and 67% through segregated mechanisms. 50% was said to be organic certified.

It listed its palm oil and palm oil derivative suppliers as Natural Bites, Vitaquell, Organica, Granovita, and stated "These companies have provided RSPO certification for KTC (edibles) & Prima Foods (UK)."

The disclosures were said to cover the whole company.

Suma received Ethical Consumer's best rating for its palm oil sourcing and did not lose any marks in the Palm Oil category.

Reference: (18 April 2019)