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On 29/10/2021 Ethical Consumer viewed the Triangle Wholefoods Collective Ltd (t/a Suma Wholefoods) website for the company's environmental policy or report.

An environmental policy was deemed necessary to report on a company's environmental performance and set targets for reducing its impacts in the future. A strong policy would include two future, quantified environmental targets, demonstration by the company that it had a reasonable understanding of its main environmental impacts, be dated within two years and have its environmental data independently verified.

The company did not have an environmental report dated within two years. Its questionnaire, received in October 2021, stated "We don’t have this at the moment. However, we are currently working with Forum for the Future to develop a comprehensive sustainability strategy for the next five years. So as of next Spring we should have a much better answer to this question".

The company stated "We offset 100% of our carbon emissions through Treesponsibility. We also have a partnership with Treesponsibility who are engaged in reforestation projects to counteract the carbon emissions from our business. Treesponsibility aims to educate people about the need for action on climate change, to involve local communities in tree planting, and to improve the local environment and biodiversity for the benefit of local people and future generations." It also discussed the environmental impacts of its packaging, and 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, transport, renewable energy or agriculture in its supply chain (agrichemical inputs and land use).

No quantified and dated future targets for impact reduction were found.

There was no evidence of independent verification of data or reporting.

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.

Overall, Triangle Wholefoods Collective Ltd (t/a Suma Wholefoods) received a Worst Ethical Consumer rating for Environmental Reporting and lost a whole mark in the Environmental Reporting category.

Reference:

Questionnaire October 2021 (October 2021)

On 29/10/2021 Ethical Consumer viewed the website of Triangle Wholefoods Collective Ltd (t/a Suma Wholefoods), looking for information on what the company was doing to tackle climate change.

Ethical Consumer was looking for the company to satisfy the following criteria in its public statements and reports:

1.a 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.

1.b For the company to have relevant sector-specific policies in place.

1.c 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 a policy to avoid investing in fossil fuels.

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

3. For the company to go some way towards reporting 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 CO2e) it would receive a middle rating. Otherwise it would receive a worst rating.

Small companies (annual turnover below £10.2 million) were only required to meet part 1 in order to receive a best rating. Small companies that did not directly meet any criteria would receive a middle rating if they were offering a lower carbon alternative for its sector.

Companies of any size whose core focus was related to climate change mitigation were also only required to meet part 1 for a best rating and would receive a middle rating even if they did not directly meet any criteria.

1.a In a questionnaire received from Suma in October 2021 the company stated "We offset 100% of our carbon emissions through Treesponsibility. We also have a partnership with Treesponsibility who are engaged in reforestation projects to counteract the carbon emissions from our business. Treesponsibility aims to educate people about the need for action on climate change, to involve local communities in tree planting, and to improve the local environment and biodiversity for the benefit of local people and future generations." On the company website Suma discussed the climate impact of its packaging. The company was not judged to have discussed all relevant areas of its carbon impact, such as the energy efficency of its buildings, emissions generated in manufacturing or raw materials development, or transport.

1.b The company did not appear to have any sector-specific policies.

1.c The company was not found to be involved in particularly damaging projects.

2. In response to the question "Does your company report all carbon emissions that it is responsible for, up to and including Scope 3?", Suma responded "No, only up to scope 2 at present". In an email dated October 2021 it stated "We report internally on our scope 1&2 emissions, and we use this info to calculate our carbon so that we can carry out offsetting activities with our partner, Treesponsibility. We don’t publish the info."

3. The company did not appear to report any scope 3 emissions.

4. The company did not appear to have a target in line with international agreements.

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

Overall, Suma received a worst Ethical Consumer rating for Carbon Management and Reporting and lost a whole mark in the Climate Change category.

Reference:

Questionnaire October 2021 (October 2021)

On 29/10/2021, Ethical Consumer searched the Triangle Wholefoods Collective Ltd (t/a Suma Wholefoods) website for the company's policy on the use of potentially hazardous chemicals such as, parabens, triclosan and phthalates.

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. Some forms or uses of these chemicals are banned or restricted in the EU or the USA.

A strong policy on toxics would be no use of these chemicals or clear, dated targets for ending their use.

The company was found to have prohibited all use of parabens in its products. 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 – household and personal care and was not marked down under Pollution & Toxics.

Reference:

sumawholesale.com (29 October 2021)

In October 2021 Ethical Consumer viewed the Suma website as well as a completed questionnaire received from the company in October 2021. No information was identified in relation to the use of microplastics and non-biodegradable liquid polymers.

However the company confirmed in an email in October 2021 that it did not use microplastics or liquid polymers in any of 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 October 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:

sumawholesale.com (29 October 2021)

In November 2021 Ethical Consumer searched for information on Triangle Wholefoods Collective Ltd (t/a Suma Wholefoods)’s use of palm ingredients. 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.

Suma stated in an email dated 10 November 2021:

"We previously audited all our palm-containing brand products in and could at that point say that it was all sustainably sourced. I am currently re-doing this audit but due to the number of products and complexity of supply chains it’s taking a long time to get hold of all the information. So far I’ve discovered that whilst the majority of our palm is RSPO certified, some of it now isn’t. Suppliers cite reasons such as the below:

Some ingredients are not produced in quantities high enough to justify officially certifying. So the uncertified doesn’t mean that they are from unsustainable sources. In some cases it’s to do with how the ingredients are purchased. (ingredient supplier) is a certified as a company with RSPO, but unless they certify what goes out of their door then we can’t either.

However based on my findings so far I’m confident that more than 50% of our palm and palm derivatives are certified. Once the audit is complete, we will be working with suppliers to look at how we can achieve certification for all the palm oil used in our products.

Its questionnaire from October 2021 also stated: "We avoid the use of palm oil wherever possible."

"We can tell you that as part of our development of new Suma Brand products, where there isn't a viable alternative ingredient to palm oil then we will use certified, sustainable palm oil only e.g. our Suma Organic Spreads contain RSPO certified, Organic Palm Oil. 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."

Although Suma appeared to be making an effort to source sustainable palm oil and more than 50% of its palm oil and derivatives was said to be certified, it could not provide assurance that all of its palm oil was certified.

Overall, Triangle Wholefoods Collective Ltd (t/a Suma Wholefoods) received a Worst Ethical Consumer ranking for palm oil sourcing and lost a whole mark in the Palm Oil category.

Reference:

Questionnaire October 2021 (October 2021)