In November 2020 Ethical Consumer received a completed questionnaire from Neals Yard Remedies the question relating to environmental reporting was left blank, although information on the company's environmental practice was provided. Ethical Consumer also searched the company's website.
Neal Yard’s website contained a lot of discussion of environmental issues, including a discussion of ingredients and materials used for its products, energy, packaging, biodiversity, water, ecosystems, and waste. It was stated that 90% of the company's products were manufactured in the UK and that it generated more than 5% of its own electricity at its factory in Dorset.
92% of its physically processed agricultural ingredients (defined by the COSMOS standard) were said to be certified Organic by weight. It was said to be committed to not using Genetically Modified ingredients.
The company was considered to have demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts.
Regarding future targets the company's website detailed the following:
- Carbon emission intensity (scope 1 & 2): targeting a 47% reduction by 2025 and an 87% reduction by 2050 from 2010 baseline. 19% reduction at last assessment.
- All plastic bottles 100% PCR [Post Consumer Recycled] before 2025. Currently all plastic bottles up to 200ml.
- Zero (non hazardous) waste to landfill from our two main sites (Peacemarsh eco-factory and London office) by 2020.
Regarding external verification of environmental data, an email sent to Ethical Consumer in July 2018 stated that checks on emissions data were said to be undertaken by Natural Capital Partners, which certified Neal’s Yard as CarbonNeutral. The company was also certified by the Soil Association which was accepted as independent verification of the company's organic claims. All of Neals Yard's products were approved by the Vegetarian Society with many also approved by the Vegan Society. While the information provided had not been verified as a whole, the company's committment to certification was accepted as external verification.

Neal's Yard recevied Ethical Consumer's best rating for Environmental Reporting and was not marked down in this category.

Reference:

Ethical Consumer Questionnaire (November 2020)

In November 2020 Ethical Consumer received a questionnaire response from Neal's Yard, looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change. Ethical Consumer was looking for the following:

1. For the company to discuss its areas of climate impact, and to discuss plausible ways it has cut them in the past, and ways that it will cut them in the future.

For the company to not be involved in any particularly damaging projects like tar sands, oil or aviation, to not be subject to damning secondary criticism regarding it’s climate actions, and to have relevant sector-specific climate policies in place.

2. For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company), and,

3. to go some way towards reporting on its scope 3 emissions (emissions from the supply chain, investments and sold products).

4. For the company to have a target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in line with international agreements (counted as the equivalent of at least 2.5% cut per year in scope 1&2 emissions), and to not count offsetting towards this target.

If a company met all of these criteria it would receive a best rating. If it met parts 1&2 (impacts and annual reporting CO_2 e) it would receive a middle rating. Otherwise it would receive a worst rating.

The company was considered to have met part 1 as it stated that it purchased renewable energy from Good Energy and Green Energy UK for both its factory and stores. It also stated: "We became the first high street retailer in the UK to be awarded the CarbonNeutral mark in 2008, reducing our carbon footprint to net zero. Our CarbonNeutral status covers direct and indirect operations at the company head offices, production facility and company owned shops including travel (commuting and business), energy and waste disposal and distribution transport". It stated that it had cut its emission intensity by 19%.

In answer to a question on whether it reported its Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions Neal's Yard stated: "Yes. We are certified as a CarbonNeutral Company by Natural Capital Partners (since 2008). Our assessment includes carbon emissions up to and including scope three and covers the operations of our ecofactory, offices, stores, US office and warehousing". While the company had not yet reported these publicly it did provide its carbon emissions data to Ethical Consumer and was considered to have met part 2.

It also did not appear to be reporting on Scope 3 emissions that included its tier one suppliers and was not considered to have met part 3.

In relation to targets the company stated: "In addition to being CarbonNeutral®, we’re following best practice in tackling climate change by setting a Science Based Target, for ‘emissions intensity’ (not counting carbon offsets). This will help to achieve the United Nations’ goal of limiting the global temperature rise to two degrees above pre-industrial levels. Our target is for emission intensity, including direct and indirect energy emissions (or ‘Scope 1’ and ‘Scope 2’ emissions as defined by the Greenhouse Gas Protocol), based on the Center for Sustainable Organizations ‘context based carbon metric’. We’re aiming for a 47% reduction by 2025 and an 87% reduction by 2050, compared to 2010". The company did not appear to have a target for reducing its absolute carbon emissions and while it mentioned setting Science Based Targets it was not listed on the Science Based Targets Initiative website.

Overall Neal's Yard received Ethical Consumer's middle rating for carbon management and reporting and lost half a mark under Climate Change.

Reference:

Ethical Consumer Questionnaire (November 2020)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer received a completed questionnaire from Neal's Yard including a response to a question about its policy on the use of the hazardous chemicals parabens, triclosan and phthalates.

Some forms or uses of these chemicals are banned or restricted in the EU or the USA.
Triclosan is an antibacterial and is a suspected endocrine disruptor. Parabens are also endocrine disruptors and have been linked to breast cancer and are used as preservatives. Phthalates, usually DEP or DBP, are used in fragrances and are endocrine disruptors. A strong policy on toxics would be no use of these chemicals or clear, dated targets for ending their use.

Neal's Yard stated that none of its products contained any of these chemicals. The company's website also provided a clear list of ingredients it did not use as well as providing ingredients lists for each product. As a result, the company received Ethical Consumer's best rating for its toxic chemicals policy.

Reference:

Ethical Consumer Questionnaire (November 2020)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the Neal's Yard website and saw that it sold some cotton towels that were made from 100% certified organic cotton. At the time of writing these were currently listed as "Out of Stock" but it was not stated whether they were discontinued.

According to Anti-Slavery International (ASI) website viewed by Ethical Consumer in August 2018, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan were two of the world’s largest exporters of cotton, and every year their governments forcibly mobilised over one million citizens to grow and harvest cotton.

The Organic Trade Association website, www.ota.com, stated in July 2018 that cotton covered roughly 2.78% of global arable land, but accounted for 12.34% of all insecticide sales and 3.94% of herbicide sales.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), a non-profit pro biotech organisation, genetically modified cotton accounted for 80% of cotton grown in 2017.

As the company only used certified organic cotton, it likely to have avoided these issues; overall the company received Ethical Consumer's best rating for its cotton sourcing policy.

Reference:

www.nealsyardremedies.com (10 February 2020)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed the Neal’s Yard website, where it was stated that it had been certified with the “Look for the Zero” logo, as it used zero plastic ingredients in their products. As such the company was deemed to have a positive policy on the use of microplastics and non-biodegradable liquid polymers. 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.

Reference:

Website (16 October 2017)

In November 2020, Ethical Consumer received a completed questionnaire from Neal's Yard along with a copy of its Palm Oil Statement.

Neal's Yard stated that it did not use crude palm oil or palm kernal oil and was continuing work to cut out the use of palm derivatives. This was considered a positive approach.
Neal's Yard sold some products made by other companies that did contain palm oil but these were all said to be certified organic, which was considered positive.
The company disclosed the volumes of palm derivatives stating: "Based on calendar year 2019, we purchased 74.4 t of materials that contain a component derived from palm such as surfactants and emulsifiers. 60.3 t is confirmed to be made with palm from certified RSPO (mass balance) sources". Neal's Yard also disclosed its suppliers.

Overall, the company recieved Ethical Consumer's best rating for palm oil and was not marked down under Palm Oil.

Reference:

Ethical Consumer Questionnaire (November 2020)