Inspire people with beautiful, unique and sustainable products

Inspire people with beautiful, unique and sustainable products

30 Apr 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 pockets. Now, about ten years later, Secrid wallets are a must-have and available in more than 70 countries worldwide. “Our Secrid wallet protects cards not only against bending or breaking, but also against unwanted reading by criminals,” says Robin Foole, Operations Manager from the head office in a renovated industrial warehouse in The Hague.

A better world starts in your pocket
Secrid does not have to be the biggest, but it does want to be the best and most beautiful. Robin: ‘We want to inspire and set a good example.’ Also 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 significant challenge at the time the company started, 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 sheltered workshops, you can assume that the working conditions are good. In addition, we limit our CO₂ emissions as a result of transport to a minimum in this way.’

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 Ecochain’s sustainability analysis, Secrid discovered that the leather covering of the wallets has a significant share of the environmental impact of the entire production chain. ‘For a bull to grow big, it takes a lot of food and water. In addition, cows emit methane: a greenhouse gas that is many times more potent than CO₂. In addition, the production of leather requires quite a lot of water and uses chemicals. All this results in significant CO₂ emissions and pressure on natural resources such as water and soil.’ To reduce the company’s CO₂ emissions, Secrid is now looking for alternatives. ‘For example, we are looking at whether we can use fish leather for the covering 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 aluminium, I only have a limited number of suppliers with whom I can do business. That makes it more difficult to set sustainability requirements.’ Secrid does try to motivate its designers to design a less sensitive product so that fewer rejected aluminum profiles end up in the waste. ‘A good example is our collaboration with the Swiss company Freitag. Profiles with (light) damage are provided with a laser engraving pattern. In this way we camouflage the damage. In addition, the profiles match nicely with a Freitag wallet made from recycled truck cloth.

Regardless of what steps Secrid takes to further 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 this reason, compensation is currently the only way for us to produce CO₂ neutrally.’

Since 2017, Ecochain has annually mapped the CO₂ emissions of the entire company, looking not only at the production chain but also at: air travel, heating costs, material use, energy use and food in the canteen. ‘In 2017 we offset approximately 2,400 tons of CO₂. For 2018 we have decided: we not only want to be CO₂ neutral, but also CO₂ positive. So, compensate more than we emit. We do not make this public because we want to prevent it from being interpreted as a way of greenwashing.’

Why did they choose FairClimateFund? Because FairClimateFund’s projects 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 sheltered workshops and donate 1 percent of our turnover to 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 to a better life for the people who are part of these projects.’