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A case study on environment

Mahaguthi reinvest 100% of their profit into supporting their producers and communities, building capacity and new product development.

Demand for eco-friendly coffins is growing, and Ecoffins is leading the way.

As a mission-led enterprise, they have focused on innovations that minimise their ecological footprint while retaining a steadfast commitment to workers and craftsmen. Innovation in material use (e.g. bamboo, Pandanus, recycled paper) and in production methods have led to all products being 100 per cent natural and biodegradable. The shipping footprint has also been minimised, as all coffins are now designed so that the different sizes fit inside one another ‘Russian Doll’ style. This means that a 20 foot shipping container can hold 198 adult sizes, using just one tenth of a gallon of fuel to ship one coffin from the East Asia to the UK (this is less fuel than an average car travelling eight kilometers). Ecoffins has invested heavily in solar panels and electric vehicles, including at their site in China. They have planted 1,000 trees around their warehouse in the UK and have processes in place to track material use so that waste is reused in production.

Ecoffins is a private business mostly owned by the founder, but has demonstrated to WFTO that it has built its model around mission-primacy. It has made very long-term commitments to suppliers, invests in them and is supporting its main supplier (in China) to become worker-owned. All profits are used to reinvest in the business and suppliers, typically for innovations that pursue the people and planet mission of the business. Without the pressure to pay dividends to investors, managers are liberated to pursue innovations such as new product designs to reduce the carbon footprint of shipping, even where the financial return on this does not seem clear.

They invested in creating a fair and eco-friendly coffin business a long time before demand and a path to future growth was clear, driven by a mission rather than a route to quick returns.

Ecoffins exclusively partners with suppliers that are also mission-led and fully practice Fair Trade, working with other WFTO members in Indonesia and supporting their Chinese operations to become a worker and craftsman-owned enterprise.

The business model deployed by Ecoffins has consistently achieved between 5-10 per cent growth each year, with sales now reaching over €700,000 per year.

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