In April 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed Suma’s website for information about its approach to environmental reporting. The company had also provided Ethical Consumer with 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. The company was not judged to have demonstrated a reasonable understanding of its impacts as it did not address other environmental impacts such as water use, renewable energy or agriculture in its supply chain (agrichemical inputs and land use).

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.

Reference:

www.suma.coop (14 April 2021)

In April 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the website of Suma, 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.
2 - For the company to report annually on its scope 1&2 greenhouse gas emissions (direct emissions by the company),
3 - and 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.

1. The company's 'Our Values' page 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." The company went on to say that it "Aim[s] for a realistic reduction in energy-related transport CO2 emissions". In its 2019 Yearbook, which Suma sent to Ethical Consumer, the company claimed that its tree planting work had offset 12,000lbs of CO2. it also stated that by using thinner plastic shrink wrap it had saved 5795 kg/year of CO2. No other information could be found. The company was not judged to have discussed all relevant areas of its carbon impact, such as the energy efficency of its buildings or the use of renewable energy sources.

2, 3 and 4. Suma did not report on its scope 1, 2 or 3 carbon emissions and it did not outline a carbon reduction target.

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

Overall, Suma received Ethical Consumer’s worst rating for carbon management and reporting and lost a whole mark under Climate Change.

Reference:

www.suma.coop (14 April 2021)

On 26th April 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed the Suma website as well as a completed questionnaire the company sent in February 2020. The questionnaire stated that the company did not use any microplastics or non-biodegradable liquid plastic polymers in its products.

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.

Suma was deemed to have a positive policy on the use of microplastics and was not marked down under Pollution & Toxics.

Reference:

Company questionnaire (February 2020)

In April 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed Suma’s website 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 and was not marked down under Pollution & Toxics.

Reference:

www.suma.coop (14 April 2021)

In April 2021, 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."

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."

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. As it received a best rating, Suma was not marked down under Habitats & Resources.

Reference:

www.suma.coop (14 April 2021)

On 26th April 2021, Ethical Consumer viewed Suma’s past questionnaires (dated February 2020 and March 2019) and website for information about the company’s palm oil sourcing. The mass production of palm oil has relied on the destruction of rainforests, which has wide ranging impacts including contributing to climate change, as well as loss of biodiversity and human rights.

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

In March 2019, Suma 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.

The page entitled, 'Palm Oil Statement' was viewed. It stated: "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."

As the company was deemed to be committed to only using certified palm oil and including palm oil derivatives in its assessment, but lacked current information on the percentage that was segregated/identity preserved, it achieved a middle rating and lost half a mark in this category as it was a medium sized (over £10.2m but under £100m turnover) company that was:
- with all palm ingredients including derivatives being certified RSPO / Organic

Reference:

www.suma.coop (14 April 2021)