Originally from the Kempenland region, Ecover has grown to become one of the world's largest producers of ecological cleaning products. Sustainability is in the company's DNA, so Ecover didn't need to think twice about its decision to apply for B Corp Certification.
Since 2012, Ecover and its sister company Method have together formed the international corporation People Against Dirty. With branch offices in the Unites States and Germany and a head office in Great Britain, the Kempenland company has truly spread its wings and soared.
Beyond an ecological motivation
Why did Ecover decide to apply for the B Corp Certification?
Tom Domen, Long Term Innovation Manager at People Against Dirty: "In 2012, we acquired Method, one of the founding members of B Corp back in 2007. Method joined B Corp for a simple reason: in the US, companies are legally required to choose the path that will be most profitable for them. Method doesn't believe in that. When companies certify as a B Corporation, they sign up to a legal framework that obligates them to take into account the impact of each of their decisions on all stakeholders. This protects their mission from sheer profit-seeking and management changes, and grants them more flexibility than other American companies in terms of sales and liquidity. When B Corp kicked off in Europe in 2015, we were first in line to get certified. When People Against Dirty was founded, we applied together. We actually achieved a very good score. Eighty out of 200 is the minimum required to pass: we scored 146 points."
What is the advantage of the B Corp Certification for People Against Dirty?
"Our company was founded for purely ecological reasons: in the early days, we mostly conducted research on issues like biodegradability and reduced toxicity. B Corp focuses on a much broader spectrum; you could call it social community building. Thanks to our B Corp Certification, we're being challenged to look way beyond our core business."
"B Corp also offers a solution to the way labels are popping up everywhere these days. In the past, we mainly struggled with ecolabels. A lot of companies just fill in a simple checklist and then get a label – without having to take any further action. Because it's quantifiable, B Corp's certification forces companies to constantly do better. Every three years, a company is up for assessment again. You fill in a long questionnaire, after which B Lab representatives visit your company to conduct an audit. This determines whether or not you can retain your certification. Each renewal allows you to improve your score, meaning your company gets to challenge itself over and over again."
"Because the score that gets companies certified is an exact number, it fits into the rest of your corporate reporting. This creates transparency. Each month at People Against Dirty, we rate ourselves in three different ways: a product score, a financial score and a B Corp score. Of course, the latter doesn't evolve quite as fast as the other two. To make our B Corp score's evolution more visible, we try to poll our employees on a regular basis about their wellbeing at work."
"Another advantage of B Corp Certification is the network that comes with it. At least once a year, a B Corp event takes place at the European level, allowing us to exchange knowledge with other companies who've certified. That networking event has grown in size each year, but nothing stops us from getting in touch between events with companies we'd like to connect with or that we look up to, like Patagonia (an American clothing company that sells outdoor apparel, red.) In the Benelux, we ourselves can take on that pioneering role and bring companies together. Our partnership with The Shift plays an incredibly important role there."
Creating jobs in Chicago
Your sustainable products have an almost perfect score already. What about the aspect of social community building?
"Our social score is rather average. But we're ambitious and want to challenge ourselves to do everything we can on the social level as well. That's why we've set up quite a few initiatives in recent years. We built our Chicago factory in a neighbourhood that was very poor and suffered from high levels of unemployment. There, we've focused on forging close ties with the local community. The park that surrounds our buildings also makes the neighbourhood greener and improves biodiversity."
"In Flanders as well, we're taking responsibility. Diversity in the workplace is one issue we're working on. We also offer Dutch language courses. We strive to be an attractive employer that way, supporting our employees when they need it."