Iceland was honoured to receive the 2019 FT Arcelor Mittal Boldness in Business Award in the Corporate Responsibility/ Environment category, in recognition of its “disruptive leadership” in sustainability through initiatives such as its commitments to eliminate plastic packaging and palm oil ingredients from its own label ranges.
Writing in the Financial Times, the paper’s US finance editor Robert Armstrong noted that: “Iceland Foods’ commitment to radically reduce – and eventually eliminate – both palm oil from its products and plastic from its packaging is admirable enough, considered in isolation. But it also dispels one of the most pernicious myths about environmental sustainability: that it is a luxury good to be indulged in only by well-to-do consumers and the top-shelf brands that carer to them.
“Iceland is a value brand, but it is also an excellent business that it is in a good position to take responsibility for all the external costs its operations have the potential to take. Others should follow its example. Bold leadership is not a luxury good, and this year’s award for corporate responsibility and environment recognises that.”
Accepting the award, Iceland Managing Director Richard Walker said: “Two years ago I was told that eliminating palm oil from our own label food was ‘impossible’. The scale of us proving people wrong and achieving the impossible has been an extraordinary team effort. Iceland are also on a journey to become the first retailer in the world to eliminate plastic from our own label packaging. Again, this level of trailblazing is difficult, stressful, frustrating – oh, and also ‘impossible’. Thank you to all Icelanders for your support, hard work and for keeping the faith.
“Most of all I’d like to thank my Dad, who is with me here tonight, for giving me the licence to tackle these issues in the first place. Doing the right thing is in our DNA, but nevertheless we are subject to the same tensions and commercial realities as any business that is trying to balance purpose with profit.
“As a business community and as a society, we all need to recognise the scale of the environmental challenge that is in front of us. And to think very carefully about what our children and grandchildren will say about our generation. We are the first to fully understand; yet the last to be able to act. Many more of us, including those in the room tonight, need to recognise that bold and urgent action should be taken NOW.”