App for consumers to identify sustainable brands set to launch next year
24 November 2021 at 4:03 pm
Australia’s green economy is estimated to be worth over $400 billion. Sydney-based sustainability startup Greener wants to encourage more businesses to be part of it.
There’s no doubt that consumer habits are changing.
Research by Forbes found that 88 per cent of consumers wanted brands to help them live sustainably, and The Conscious Consumer Report 2021 discovered that 62 per cent of Australians surveyed said they wanted to buy their products and services from companies doing some good.
With Australia’s green economy said to be worth over $400 billion there’s a real opportunity for both consumers, businesses and, of course, the planet to benefit from sustainable spending.
Greener is an app from Sydney-based founders Tom Ferrier, ex-Brambles, and Neil McVeigh, ex-Uber. Already on its second raise after a successful pilot program, Greener aims to make it easier for consumers to identify the brands that are already on a successful sustainability journey.
The idea for Greener came to Ferrier when he started to think about the true cost of the products he would see in supermarkets and shops. The price tag gives one cost but what about the cost to the planet? What about the invisible price tag of a product’s carbon footprint? These are the problems Greener is setting out to solve.
Cath Van Der Meulen is Greener’s partnership manager. She told Pro Bono News that the focus of the company is to support customers to reduce their carbon impact from, an average of, 20 tonnes per year down to two tonnes.
“Talking about carbon isn’t the sexiest thing but actually talking about your positive impact can be,” Van Der Meulen says.
“With Greener, we want to show people that through changing their spending behaviours and shifting their purchasing power, they can have a positive impact on people and planet.”
How it works
Once Greener is downloaded from the App Store, customers are asked a series of questions to get an understanding of their current carbon footprint with an overall score being given. The customer is then encouraged and supported, to reach carbon neutrality through their purchasing habits.
Over time, and once a customer has hit carbon neutral by shopping with certain brands, their so-called ‘Halo’, which is much-like Australia’s health star rating and represents a circle within the app, turns green.
Greener is free to download but customers are asked to link up their bank account via Basiq. Bank data is then scraped to see where the customer has shopped over the last 180 days.
Then, again through the app, the customer is presented with better choices of brands and products they could purchase from. These brands have all been pre-selected and vetted by the team at Greener to have passed a certain level of sustainable accreditation.
Behavioural changes are also suggested such as: change your insurance to ‘this particular brand’ and your green ‘Halo’ will go up by three points.
Harvard-backed research, and finding the right brands to partner with
As Greener’s partnership manager, Van Der Meulen is rigorous at making sure the brands they partner with are the right fit from a sustainability and good business perspective.
“When we’re signing brands to partner with we’re looking at 70 different accreditations across reducing emissions, reducing waste, better materials and responsible business,” Van Der Meulen says.
After a round of Beta testing of the app late last year, Greener released its collected data and was approached by Professor Michael Hiscox, the Aussie founder of Harvard University’s Sustainability, Transparency, Accountability Research Lab.
Hiscox had been working with large Australian and international brands over the past decade to help them supercharge their sustainability efforts and came on board with Greener to help further develop the green brand framework.
“Researchers from WWF, and Harvard University, are helping us work out how we can continue to validate, with science and facts, what the right brands are for our customers”, says Van Der Meulen
Partnerships and carbon offsetting
At the moment Greener has over 60 partners signed up. Brands like LEGO, Who Gives a Crap, ZeroCo, T2 and Country Road have all signed up to pay a revenue share for any new customers brought to them through Greener.
They also have their sustainability credentials displayed in a ‘score card’ within the app giving customers quick and easy access to how that organisation is actively reducing their carbon emissions.
The benefit to the brand is that it can easily show itself as a trustworthy responsible business and from a consumer perspective the legwork of finding a purpose-led business has been done for them.
For Van Der Meulen the benefit of Greener is three-fold. It first flags purchases and might encourage people to shop less but if not then it’s introducing consumers to more sustainable brands. The third aspect to Greener is that the business itself offsets any remaining carbon, not offset by the brands.
“We have an allocation of revenue share that goes to the carbon offset, which we buy via carbon credits through Green Fleet,” she says.
“Those organisations who join us for a very low fee automatically become carbon neutral, based on that offsetting programme that we’ve got. A lot of our partners are carbon neutral anyway, and so we don’t necessarily have to do that for them, but for the smaller ones we automatically cover their carbon offsetting for them.”
Officially launching in 2022
Greener has just gone through a successful second round of funding that once officially launched will help to scale up the offering.
Bringing the app to the mainstream consumer is the team’s focus and the only way to create real environmental impact — the more people who use it, the more carbon gets offset.
“We’re building out lots of different partnerships with brands and organisations that have got large cohorts of like-minded people and we’re getting Greener into their hands,” Van Der Meulen says.
Greener plans on having about 60,000 people on the app for the official launch next year and has been working with a lot of not for profits, environmental organisations to connect with their audiences.
“When we ran the Beta testing on about 500 people who saw through that small chunk of data we were able to support people in reducing their carbon footprint by 23 per cent. If you scale up that 23 per cent, then you can really start to have an impact.
“For us, it’s not just about the better economy that’s obviously going to be created, but it’s actually about reducing everyone’s impact on the planet.”
Find out more about Greener here