How a small British social enterprise is having a big impact worldwide
The UK-based social enterprise Belu started with a simple idea – that there was a better way to do business. Today, Belu is one of the UK's leading social enterprises, doing business differently and for the benefit of people and planet, not just profit.
Belu set out to prove that it was possible to reduce environmental impact and give away all profits to fund safe water projects worldwide. At present, Belu offers the most ethical choice in water service from bottled mineral water, to filter machines, and refillable bottles. The company has also taken its commitment to more sustainable business practices further by forging a strategic partnership with leading water NGO, WaterAid in 2011. The partnership has, to date, helped transform 146,671 lives with safe water and decent toilets since 2011.
“Our partnership made total sense. We have a shared goal, to end global water poverty, but have different strengths. Belu generate funds through producing the most environmental water bottles on the market while WaterAid are world renowned for delivering lasting change in the world's poorest country with access to safe water and sanitation," says Karen Lynch, Belu CEO.
Both Belu and WaterAid are determined to help end global water poverty by 2030, in line with Global Goal 6. Safe water and decent sanitation have wide-reaching effects on the other Global Goals by improving health, giving children the opportunity to get an education, and ultimately ending poverty.
In honor of this year's World Water Day, Belu has announced that they will be extending the successful partnership until 2030.
CEO of WaterAid, Barbara Frost says; “This unique, long-term commitment is a great example of how organisations can work together to create social change and transform lives across the world, while also running a successful business."
Through its commitment to sustainability, Belu has a positive impact by not only helping to reach more people with safe water and sanitation, but also by creating water bottles with the smallest possible carbon footprint.
Belu has furthermore countered the questions of why an environment-first company is using plastic bottles by emphasising that it wants to give consumers opting for bottled water the option to buy as ethically as possible.
“Where possible, we believe people should drink tap water. But when they can't, buy Belu. In the UK, we're fortunate enough to have beautiful clean water sources. We offer consumers the chance to buy water that isn't imported, made from material that is 100% recyclable and made of at least 50% recycled raw materials," says Karen Lynch.
Belu is currently 100% carbon neutral across their business - from office to the products they offer. Every year, the social enterprise commits to further reducing their carbon footprint, despite growing year on year in terms of what they produce. In its 2017 Impact Report, launched today, the company shows how, since 2010, their carbon emissions have reduced by 45%. This has been possible through continued investment in innovation and by streamlining manufacturing process.
For the carbon footprint that was not possible to reduce, Belu partnered with South Pole Group to offset its residual emissions with a high-quality emission reduction project: the Song Ong Hydropower plant in Ninh Son District, Vietnam, contributes towards balancing the supply and demand gap for energy. The project improves the infrastructure systems of the Quang Son commune where minority groups are living, providing both socioeconomic and ecological impact benefits for these communities. The use of locally produced renewable energy allows for sustainable development without emissions harmful to people and planet.
“The Global Goals are ambitious. Specifically, giving everyone on this planet access to safe water and decent toilets is far from straightforward. Nine out of ten people in the world now have access to safe water however, there are still over 663 million people living without it. This World Water Day is another chance of thinking about how one can make a difference and help reach the final one in ten people around the world to get access to safe water," emphasises Karen Lynch.
Follow Belu at @BeluWater