Inside the Greenest Supply Chain

18 Nov 2022 • 5 minute read

How green is your supply chain? You are probably ticking some of the right boxes. Perhaps you’re using recyclable material or have sustainability champions in your team who ensure your company is meeting its eco-credentials. But is that enough? What can you do to push the boundaries of sustainability?

The Green Gift Card team and our brilliant client Motivates have taken sustainability to the next level. We have had the pleasure of visiting our paperboard mill before but wanted Motivates to experience a deep dive into their supply chain to help bring to life the journey of their gift cards.

As such, last month, we embarked on the trip to rural Sweden to fully understand the gift cards’ journey and their impact on the environment. Let us take you on the same journey.

Off to Iggesund, Sweden

Motivates are a leading light in the gift card sector. They are the company behind the Lifestyle Gift Card, which features 140+ brands on one card. Motivates are the first and only gift card company to become a certified B Corporation, showing just how seriously they take their environmental responsibilities. They also recently walked away with The Big ESG award at the GCVA Hall of Fame Awards.

Already you can see the synergies with Green Gift Cards. Our founder Graham Lycett was also a winner at the GCVA awards, having been recognised with the top accolade of the night, Honoured Industry Contributor.

We are delighted to work closely with the Motivates team and to be able to facilitate the trip to the Holmen Iggesund papermill in Sweden.

On a Monday morning in late September, Andy Ling, Mark Boyce and Alex Barseghian from Motivates, and Graham Lycett, founder of Green Gift Cards, embarked on their journey.

After arriving in Stockholm, a 3-hour journey up the east coast followed to the town of Iggesund on the edge of the Baltic Sea.

From seed to paperboard – full supply chain transparency

The Holmen Iggesund paperboard Mill is unique, and we do not underestimate the role they play in improving the sustainability of the gift card industry. More than this, we are incredibly fortunate that they opened their doors to allow us access to a full behind-the-scenes tour of their facilities and the paperboard-creation process. This is a privilege reserved for a select few, including the likes of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, since Iggesund manufactures the material used in some of the iconic Apple packaging.

The paperboard mill operation must be seen to be believed. Iggesund is part of the forest industry group Holmen which owns more than 1.3 million hectares of forest in Sweden. Trees in the forest have a century-long journey from seedling to paperboard.

Their forest and coastal location mean the business is built on two main pillars – wood and water. The result is significantly reduced miles travelled for the wood in the paperboard production process, plus water is supplied locally and used to create hydroelectric power and is a key component in the manufacture of paperboard.

Green Gift Card Production

During their visit, the Motivates and Green Gift Card team spent time in the Iggesund classroom. Sustainability Director Johan Granas shared his insights to help the team better understand Holmen Iggesund’s circular business model.

After this, the team kitted up in their PPE to head out into the Iggesund forest. The sheer scale of the forestry operation is remarkable and humbling in equal measure. The clean Swedish air and the natural, unpolluted environment can make the most hardened businesspeople feel small and insignificant.

Trees in the Iggesund forest are nurtured from seeds in the paperboard mill’s orchards before being transferred to a sapling nursery. When ready, they are planted in the woods and left to mature for at least 80 – 100 years, all the while acting as a carbon sink.

Inside the Greenest Supply Chain with Green Gift Cards, Motivates and Holmen Iggesund

What happens in the paperboard mill?

Mature trees are harvested and transported back to the mill, where as much wood as possible is used in construction and for furniture and flooring. What’s left goes into the production process for paper and paperboard.

The paperboard is made from entirely natural products. Typically, the wood is pine and spruce. Any water used in the production process is from nearby sources (did you know Sweden has 100,000 lakes?). Even the energy used in production is bio-fuelled.

The bottom line is that nothing goes to waste. The paperboard created is durable, premium-quality, and 100% recyclable, with any waste products returned to the manufacturing process.

Supply Chain and Greenwashing

Why was this visit so important for Motivates and Green Gift Cards? Aside from deepening our client relationship, having full transparency over the supply chain is crucial. Together all parties in this chain are having a significant impact on the sustainability of the gift card industry.

A full CO2 impact study was carried out as part of our joint commitment to reducing the negative environmental impact. Watch this space for more details but essentially, the study carried out by CarbonQuota revealed that the CO2 footprint of the Motivates cards is less than that of a banana!*

We have forensically examined the supply chain to ensure it meets the highest possible environmental standards available today. Despite the greenwashing often seen on social media and in the press, brands are only as good as their supply chain.

Andy Ling from Motivates commented on the visit saying, “We remain in absolute awe of Holmen Iggesund, their team, the factory and the incredible, sustainable process that goes into producing Invercote paperboard that’s used globally in packaging, as well as to manufacture our very own gift cards. For a tiny client like ourselves, compared to the likes of Apple! It was a true honour to receive an invite to get behind the scenes, understand the process and science behind Invercote, and be treated like VIPs from take-off to landing. The learnings have been invaluable. Such exciting times ahead, and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of change and innovation in our industry”.

Contact our team today to learn more about making the switch to Green Gift Cards.

*source ‘How bad are bananas’ by Mike Berners-Lee, second edition



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