Products of Change is a global educational hub aimed at driving sustainable
change across consumer product markets and beyond.
This month Products of Change shines the spotlight on two of its global network members: the licensed stationery specialist greenre and Australia’s own Piping Hot to highlight the power and influence of today’s biggest IP.
Greenre and Piping Hot are two companies headquartered at the extreme ends of opposite hemispheres. One’s a Canadian licensed stationery specialist while the other is the Australian manufacturer of licensed and non-licensed surf and swim wear. On paper, the two are quite literally poles apart.
Except, both greenre and Piping Hot find themselves undeniably connected by a shared momentum to initiate and drive change in the consumer products market for the benefit of the planet by utilising the power and influence of brands.
Operating out of its headquarters in Ontario, greenre has been rapidly expanding across the North American market where it currently works with some of the biggest names in the character and entertainment sector. We’re talking Marvel, Disney Princesses, DC Comics, Harry Potter, MGA Entertainment and a whole lot more. Its most unique selling point however, is through the power of these brands and its own innovative developments in material use and systems, greenre is perpetuating ideas around the circular economy and, in very real terms, placing sustainability directly in the hands of children.
By utilising waste streams, eco-design, and understanding end of life of its products and packaging, as well as building in a tree-planting initiative as part of its everyday operations, greenre has become a mass-market licensing partner that – by its own accord – has achieved ‘unprecedented carbon off-setting effects’ that are outpacing even its own expectations. And in doing so, it’s setting its own barometer of a licensing industry standard.
“Getting to a circular economy means going past the standards that are being implemented by the market players and looking at all the product materials to ensure we are not applying any environmental pressure,” greenre’s CEO, Keith Loiselle tells Products of Change. “It’s not easy, but we are seeing results in our efforts and are excited to further our commitments in the space.”greenre’s CEO, Keith Loiselle
If the company’s gradual expansion across the North American retail space isn’t measure enough of greenre’s success to date, the team has recently been named a part of the United Nations Compact and its UN Climate Accelerator Programme, not to mention that – and something Loiselle takes great pride in – the manufacturer is now “calculating in the negative.” This, to unravel the terminology a little, means that greenre is “by far contributing to carbon extraction more so than the business is creating.”
In essence, greenre loves planting trees, loves showcasing scalable sustainability to the world, and loves that it’s the biggest brands in the entertainment space today that are helping the outfit achieve it all.
“Coming back into manufacturing after being away for a handful of years, I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to be purposeful and feel good about what I was doing. It was clear that we were heading to a tipping point for the climate and we just want to be a part of the solution,” says Loiselle.greenre’s CEO, Keith Loiselle
“And we believe, as fans ourselves, that brands can change the world.”greenre’s CEO, Keith Loiselle
He’d be right, too. Let’s look towards Australia’s own Piping Hot for another example. It wasn’t too long ago that the team landed on its own revelation to do better by the environment through its surf and swimwear business. In the battle between industry and supply chain status quo and its balance with the planet, stewardship of the world’s ocean won out and in July 2021, Piping Hot had made the ultimate switch. It now boasts a portfolio of products, all 100 per cent made from sustainable materials.
But Piping Hot’s mission went further than simply this. To truly be effective, the team realised that its sustainability had to be scalable. And that meant affordable.
“We’re on a mission to help families save money and protect oceans,” Piping Hot’s brand and marketing director, Amy Low, tells Products of Change. “We’ve taken a systemic approach to implementing change – all tied into the ocean.”Piping Hot’s brand and marketing director, Amy Low
Over the past couple of years, Piping Hot has made good on its commitments to use low-impact materials, save water and energy, and conserve resources whose depletion threaten ocean health. In fact, all its products are now made with materials that are recycled, recyclable, renewable, or biodegradable. What’s more – and quite possibly its biggest feat – Piping Hot has also eliminated virgin polyester from its supply chain.
“We come to a point in business where we recognised that we were contributing to ocean pollution and needed to take action to protect it for future generations,” says Low. “It was an incredible effort to achieve our goals without losing focus on making sustainable solutions affordable for families, but by repurposing single-use plastics into recycled polyester, we’ve diverted more than 15.5 million plastic bottles from landfill and waterways.”Piping Hot’s brand and marketing director, Amy Low
It’s through its retail partnerships with the likes of Target Australia and Walmart Canada that Piping Hot enables accessibility to its products at an affordability for families. But price isn’t the only factor at play in hitting that mainstream market.
The business has very recently launched its Heroes for the Ocean label, developed to be a collaborative platform through which licensing partnerships can promote ocean action. It’s under this umbrella its partnership with Marvel for an officially-licensed and fully-sustainable range of surf and swimwear for kids and adults was formed.
“With the ocean in crisis, we need everyone to become heroes for the ocean. The Marvel team loved our purpose, our mission, and the designs featuring the iconic superheroes from the Marvel universe on our sustainable swimwear,” says Low. “With the success of our Marvel x Heroes for the Ocean range, we want to expand into other co-branded offerings to really drive the message among consumers.”Piping Hot’s brand and marketing director, Amy Low
The part that brands have to play cannot be underestimated. The platform and elevation they can lend to this sustainability movement is one to be utilised at full force. Success found at greenre to date has fuelled further development of circular models within the mass-market consumer products space, while Piping Hot is a team now expanding its operations on a global scale. Not only that, but it’s now investing in innovative biomaterial research to develop a new sustainable textile made from seaweed – a pioneering development that “could transform the sustainable textile industry and offer a global solution for clean oceans.”
There’s certainly something to be said for licensing partnerships that fuel these kind of regenerative business models. As a business centred on storytelling through product, licensing has the incredible potential to influence the narrative of a generation. No matter the distance between us.
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Products of Change is a membership community and educational hub with the mission of driving positive, sustainable change across the consumer industries.