• Recently B-Corp Certified, Openway Food Co. moved the production of Table of Plenty’s coated Mini Rice Cakes onshore in May. Image: Openway Food Co.
    Recently B-Corp Certified, Openway Food Co. moved the production of Table of Plenty’s coated Mini Rice Cakes onshore in May. Image: Openway Food Co.

Openway Food Co has achieved B Corp Certification. Co-founder Gavin Evans gave Food & Drink Business the run-down on achieving the globally recognised accolade after an 18-month application process.

Home to brands Table of Plenty, Red Tractor and Keep It Cleaner, Openway has prioritised environmental and social responsibility from the outset. One of the early adopters of B Corp Certification in the Australian healthy food landscape, Openway wants to inspire others in the industry to do more good.

Openway’s journey to B Corp Certification highlighted five essential areas of the business:

1. Collaborative Approach
2. Transparent and Accountable
3. Responsible Supply Chain
4. Sustainability and Community Engagement
5. Dedication to Positive Impact

Evans, who led the charge on Openway’s B Corp journey, said the company recognised that this certification was just the beginning of the journey.

Evans said that given the foundation brands of Openway Food Co already had a strong sense of purpose, and many of the core attributes of an ESG program were already in place, adding that one of the key advantages of pursuing B Corp Certification was that it provided a structured framework for Openway to build its ESG Program.

“As a result, much of the focus was on formalising those attributes through a more structured framework in policy and application, as well as formalising ad hoc relationships with groups like Foodbank into a more consistent program,” said Evans.

The company also used the process to create a more holistic Environmental Management System (EMS).

“We had to gather a lot of data on activities that were occurring but not being actively recorded in our operations such as our rates of cardboard recycling in the factory; similarly, our employees section of the assessment was strong but again required some standardisation and formalisation across the legacy businesses,” said Evans.

Evans noted there was a large focus on safety and broader OHS in the B Corp process. This was also already a strength in the business previously but again, the process helped to further refine its safety management systems.

“The level of detail and supporting information required for B Corp is a significant body of work, which had to be carried out in a very challenging operating environment through the Covid effected period. This only served to re-enforce our commitment to the ESG & B Corp program, and we were able to create small focused teams to get the work done without disrupting most people across the business,” said Evans.

Openway worked with its suppliers to modernising contracts and relationships and capture key areas such as modern slavery reporting as well as sustainability concerns around water and resource use. This also involved creating and completing a supplier scorecard with its suppliers to share key information that impacted certification.

“We also focused on moving to greater local sourcing of inputs, which has always been a strength of Openway but is now an even a bigger focus.

In May, the company opened a $10 million factory to bring manufacturing onshore.

“The Rice Cakes production line being built in house rather than manufactured in Europe is a really significant and visible example of this. This supply chain improvement reduced our shipping tonne/mile footprint by around 70 per cent (circa 10m tonne mile reduction),” said Evans.

Evans said following the process, key areas for growth and improvement had been identified, with Openway now embarking on those processes, such as a more consistent measuring of its GHG emissions across the supply chain.

B Corp certification is administered by B Lab, an independent nonprofit organization that sets high standards for certification. The rigorous process critically evaluates a company's impact on the environment, community, employees, and customers.

Packaging News

The ACCC has instituted court proceedings against Clorox Australia, owner of GLAD-branded kitchen and garbage bags, over alleged false claims that bags were partly made of recycled 'ocean plastic'.

In news that is disappointing but not surprising given the recent reports on the unfolding Qenos saga, the new owner of Qenos has placed the company into voluntary administration. The closure of the Qenos Botany facility has also been confirmed.

An agreement struck between Cleanaway and Viva Energy will see the two companies undertake a prefeasibility assessment of a circular solution for soft plastics and other hard-to-recycle plastics.