Franco-British Business Awards: The Cheeky Panda wins for sustainable wipes

Winner of the 2020 Franco-British Business Award for Sustainability, The Cheeky Panda is a disruptor in the household goods sector, using sustainably-sourced bamboo for toilet tissue and wipes.

In a country where the average Briton gets through 127 rolls of toilet paper each year, there are growing concerns about deforestation and the use of plastics in a range of household tissues and wipes.

Enter Cheeky Panda, a start-up with B-Corp certification, founded in 2016 by husband and wife team Chris Forbes and Julie Chen, who saw the opportunity to make use of the bi-products of the bamboo harvest to produce sustainable alternatives to tree-based toilet tissues.

Compared to trees, which can take up to 30 years to mature and which can only be harvested in rotations of several years, bamboo is the world’s fastest growing plant, up to a metre per day, which can be harvested each year.

In addition to the raw fibre, the company lists other benefits in its supply chain, including chlorine-free production and sourcing Chinese bamboo from sustainable crops in partnership with the World Land Trust, of which David Attenborough is a patron.

The company, which sells its products in both the UK and France, successfully secured more than £2 million through its latest equity crowdfunding campaign in May 2020.

In winning the Sustainability Award from the French Chamber, sponsored by Dassault Systemes, they set themselves apart from a shortlist which included larger and more established companies. ‘For us as a smaller growing business to be able to go up against larger institutions and win is a great platform,’ says Forbes.

In a growing market for sustainable brands and solutions, Forbes says that new agile market entrants like Cheeky Panda have the opportunity to build sustainable companies and brands from the ground up, while established institutions may struggle to reengineer themselves to rival the ethical and environmental credentials of a ‘pure play’ ESG company.

‘This is why we are a B-Corp,’ says Forbes. ‘It is a very thorough test of not just the social goals that a company aligns to in terms of diversity and giving back to the community, but also the environmental metrics that it has.’

ESG data, referring to Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance factors used to measure the sustainability and societal impact of an investment in a company or business, is growing metric for decision-making for investors in Britain and France, as seen recently in Alexandre Holroyd’s report on how to boost ESG investing on behalf of the French government.

The Chamber’s award is one of many plaudits the company has received, however Forbes notes that this is their first recognition which extends into the French market, where they are currently expanding their retail and B2B footprint.

The company has recently begun working with the French office supplier Lyreco to deliver their products directly into businesses, and they have designs on increasing their domestic retail offering in the natural organic and the supermarket segments on both sides of the Channel.

Their award includes a one-year membership in the French Chamber.

 

The Cheeky Panda was represented at the Franco-British Business Awards by Chris Forbes, Co-Founder, and Sarah Schygulla, International Marketing Executive. The Sustainability Award was sponsored by Dassault Systemes.

 

Looking back on the Sustainability Award

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