Icebug: Using business to drive change beyond your own scope

By Icebug | October 3, 2022

Icebug is a Swedish outdoor footwear brand. We make shoes with traction for all conditions. But there is more to it. Our vision is to be a change maker for a society where people can thrive on a planet in balance. This is not just some distant effect of our work. This is the work. We do not exploit people. We accept that there are planetary boundaries, and we strive to thrive within them.

To us, integrating climate in our business strategy makes it easier to make tough decisions. Like saying no to air freight, even when we face delays. To view nature and society as important stakeholders is vital to Icebug – from both moral and business perspectives.

Being part of the Exponential Roadmap Initiative and the Race To Zero Campaign boosts our climate strategy. Not least, the 4 Climate Pillars of the 1.5°C Business Playbook is a valuable tool. Here is a short introduction to how we apply the four pillars.

Reducing own emissions

Representing < 2% of our total emissions. We use renewable electricity for our offices and strive to reduce travel emissions. Covid taught us that a lot of work can get done remotely and our guideline is to limit business travel to 50% of pre-Covid levels and use train over flying whenever that’s a feasible option.

Reducing value chain emissions

Representing > 95 % of our total emissions. We have set a target to at least halve our total emissions latest by 2030 (compared to a 2015 baseline). To succeed, we have developed tools to measure and forecast emissions linked to every style of shoes. Currently, energy is our biggest concern, and we have initiated the installation of solar panels at the factories we use in Vietnam. The solar rooftop project has potential to eliminate 17- 67% of the factories’ annual carbon footprint (large differences due to factory size and location), summing up to more than Icebug’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions. Since we are just one of the factories´ customers (and not the biggest) this is a win that goes far beyond our own scope. This effort could easily be implemented by the footwear and apparel industry at large.

Apart from energy, upcoming models will feature materials giving further emission cuts. For example, we have worked hard to raise the demand for FSC® natural rubber so that smallholder farms in Thailand can continue to help us phase out oil-based rubber in a responsible way. Today, all our outsoles (except safety shoes) have natural rubber depending on performance requirements ranging from 23-63%. Since the second half of 2022 natural rubber that we buy is from an FSC certified source.

“Our vision is to be a change maker for a society where people can thrive on a planet in balance. We accept that there are planetary boundaries, and we strive to thrive within them. Being part of the Exponential Roadmap Initiative and the Race To Zero Campaign boosts our climate strategy. Not least, the 4 Climate Pillars of the 1.5°C Business Playbook is a valuable framework for our sustainability work,” David Ekelund, CEO, Icebug.

Integrating climate in business strategy

Icebug has decided not to set a growth target. We believe in sound profitability, but we do not create artificial demand. The fact that climate is integrated into our business strategy helps us make important decisions – for instance saying no to air freight even when it means less business due to delays. To make climate truly integrated into Icebug’s business strategy, an internal carbon pricing is applied at €100/ton CO2e. To put it bluntly: making it expensive producing unsustainable shoes. Giving back to nature through initiatives like 1% for the Planet is important to us. Since we are a part of this society, we don’t adopt aggressive tax schemes, but pay our taxes where we do business. We see taxes not as merely a cost, but as value distribution to society.

Influencing climate action in society

We like to share our learnings, and when we invent something that we are proud of – like a method for climate footprint transparency of shoes – we challenge other brands to do the same. In addition to co-financing important climate projects, we work hard to influence consumers to act in a more sustainable way, to give their shoes a long life and not to buy things that they do not need.

Being part of the Exponential Roadmap Initiative and SME Climate Hub provides both strategic frameworks for our sustainability work and useful networks. We can only reach our goals by scaling up and moving forward together.

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