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Why sustainability can equal success in the UK sleep industry

by Jessica Weisman-Pitts
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young woman sleeping on bed SBI 300992498

By Angela Crouch, Managing Director at Nectar Sleep

Successful businesses should have sustainability at their core. For me, that’s a non-negotiable.

My BSc in Zoology Life Sciences allowed me to understand the negative impact that businesses can have on the environment from a young age. So, when launching Nectar in the UK market back in 2018, it was a focus from day one.

Outside of the tangible direct cost, I quickly realised that sustainability is a complex and ever-changing subject. I had a lot to learn, and quick.

Over the years, the conversation has continued to gather enormous strength. Recent research revealed that one third (35%)[1] of online shoppers in the UK will only associate with ‘responsible’ brands.

But what does responsible mean within the context of the current UK sleep industry? And how best can we communicate this to our customers?

Many issues exist within the sector. Mattresses are hard to recycle. As a result, far too many end up in landfill. Add production methods and supply chains into the mix, and you can begin to understand the scale of the challenge.

Luckily, I like a challenge.

According to the 2021 sustainability and consumer behaviour report from Deloitte, ‘The five sustainable brand practices that consumers value most include waste reduction, reducing carbon footprint, providing sustainable packaging, committing to ethical work practices, and respecting human rights.’ I’m proud to say we’ve considered all five:

  1. Waste Reduction

By reducing waste, we’re conserving vital space and resources. At Nectar Sleep, all old and returned mattresses are donated to the British Heart Foundation. This avoids senseless landfill waste, gives the mattress a new home, and has allowed us to raise over £352,000 to fund heart disease research to date.

When we have no choice but to dispose of a mattress, we work with removal partner AnyJunk to ensure 96% of the items they collect are diverted from landfill sites.

  1. Reducing our carbon footprint

Our increasing carbon footprint is having a profound effect on the environment we live in. As such, we see our partnership with sustainability experts Climate Partner as a hugely valuable way to minimise our business impact.

We are 100% carbon neutral and have also offset CO2 equivalent to 17,941,312kgs to date. Plus, we’ve reduced the carbon footprint of a Nectar Sleep mattress by 8%.

  1. Providing sustainable packaging

According to recent statistics, [2] packaging represents a staggering 65% of all household waste. With much of this ending up in landfills, sustainable and biodegradable options should be a priority.

At Nectar Sleep we ensure all our product packaging is FSC approved, meaning only products from well-managed forests and verified and recycled sources are used. Plus, unlike some of our competitors, all the foam we use is free from heavy metals, harmful dyes, or ozone-depleting chemicals

  1. Committing to ethical work practices

British manufacturing standards are among the highest in the world. That’s why we make all our mattresses in the heart of Derbyshire, a region with over 300 years of relevant expertise.

Choosing to manufacture in the UK also reduces the carbon footprint of every mattress, meaning  we are less impacted by pandemic-related supply chain issues and in turn allows us to pump money back into the local community.

  1. Respecting human rights

We have numerous policies in place to ensure we uphold the highest standard when it comes to protecting our own staff and those within our supply chain.

What’s the benefit?

By focusing on these areas, and building them into the business from the start, we’ve been able to create a sustainable yet increasingly profitable model. Currently, we sell one mattress every 2 minutes in the UK.

Crucially, we’ve also invited our customers along on the journey with us, clearly communicating our goals and accreditations (Including the Getting Greener Good Housekeeping Award 2020) via social, PR and a dedicated webpage.

This hasn’t gone unnoticed. Our latest round of market research revealed that 20% of our customers list our climate-neutral credentials as one of their motivations for choosing a Nectar Sleep mattress.

Personally, I feel privileged to end 2021 in a position where I can talk openly and honestly about what we have achieved so far plus commit to science-based targets moving forward. Our competitors have no excuse not to do the same.

[1]According to a study of 4,000 consumers by Empathy.co.uk one third (35%) of online shoppers in the UK will only associate with ‘responsible’ brands

[2] According to the EPA, packaging contributes to an astonishing 77.9 tons of municipal solid waste per year — almost 30% of the total amount of waste. And packaging represents a staggering 65% of all household trash.