inspire people with beautiful, unique and sustainable products

Blog – 30 April 2019

Inspire people with beautiful, unique products. But also by showing that you can do business with an eye for people and the environment. That is what drives the people behind Secrid.

It all started in 2008 with the vision to make people look differently at the contents of their pocket. Now, about ten years later, the Secrid wallets are a must-have and available in more than 70 countries worldwide. "Our Secrid wallet not only protects cards against bending or breaking, but also against unwanted RFID and NFC communication or digital pickpocketing," says Robin Foole, Operations Manager from head office in a renovated industrial warehouse in The Hague.

A better world starts in your pocket
Secrid does not have to be the largest, but does want to be the best and most beautiful. Robin: "We want to inspire, set a good example." Even when it comes to entrepreneurship with an eye for people and the environment. For that reason, Secrid decided not to outsource the production of the Secrid wallets to low-wage countries. A major challenge in the time the company was launched, assures the Operations Manager. "The leather industry had almost completely disappeared from the Netherlands in 2009." Nevertheless, Secrid managed to bring the production of wallets back to the Netherlands. "Because our wallets are produced in the Netherlands and in social workshops, you can assume that working conditions are good. In addition, we limit our carbon emissions from transport in this way to a minimum."

But Secrid’s sustainability ambitions go further. "We want to keep the impact of our production process on the environment and nature as low as possible. Together with consultancy firm Ecochain, we are now mapping the impact of our production chain and our company on the environment and nature so that we can make concrete plans for further sustainability."

A few examples? Through the sustainability analysis of Ecochain, Secrid discovered that the leather upholstery of the wallets has a significant share in the environmental impact of the entire production chain. "A lot of food and water is needed to raise a bull. Moreover, cows emit methane: a greenhouse gas that is many times stronger than CO₂. In addition, quite a lot of water is needed for the production of leather and chemicals are used. All of this results in significant carbon emissions and pressure on natural resources such as water and soil." To reduce the company's carbon emissions, Secrid is now looking for alternatives. "For example, we are looking into whether we can use fish leather for the upholstery of our wallet. But we are also open to other alternatives, such as mushroom leather."

Aluminum also has a large share in the environmental impact of Secrid’s production process. The company is looking to reduce the impact, but that is difficult, Robin emphasizes. "Due to the high demands we place on the quality of the aluminum, I have only a limited number of suppliers with whom I can do business. That makes it more difficult to set sustainability requirements." However, Secrid is trying to motivate its designers to design a less sensitive product so that fewer rejected aluminum profiles end up in waste. "A good example is our collaboration with the Swiss company Freitag. Profiles with (slight) damage are provided with a laser-engraving pattern. In this way we camouflage the damage. In addition, the profiles fit nicely with a Freitag wallet made from a recycled truck canvas."

Regardless of the steps Secrid takes to make the company more sustainable, production has (for the time being) an impact on the environment. "Because we largely outsource production, we have only limited influence on the environmental impact of the production process. For that reason, for the time being, offsetting is the only way for us to produce in a carbon neutral way."

Since 2017, Ecochain has been mapping the carbon emissions of the entire company every year, not only looking at the production chain but also at: air travel, heating costs, material use, energy consumption and food in the canteen. "In 2017 we offsetted approximately 2,400 tons of carbon. For 2018 we have decided: we not only want to be climate neutral, but also climate positive. So, we compensate more than we emit. We do not actively communicate about this because we want to prevent it from being seen as a way of greenwashing."

Why did they choose FairClimateFund? Because the projects of FairClimateFund combat climate change and have a positive social impact. "We also want to make a social contribution with our company. That is why we work with social workshops and spend 1 percent of our turnover on charities. At FairClimateFund, for example, we invest in a reforestation project for farmers in Peru and in a project for more efficient cooking methods for women in India. By supporting these projects, we contribute a little bit to a better life for the people who are part of these projects."

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