Bluelab is a proud member of our local region’s economic development organisation, Priority One. In our partnership, our shared vision is to create a sustainable and value-driven economy that improves productivity and delivers prosperity to local people and communities. The Showcasing Sustainability series, facilitated by Priority One, highlights businesses based in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, that are taking a dedicated approach to a more sustainable future. Bluelab featured in the fifth issue, with a focus on our support of 5 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
With this case study, we hope to inspire others in their sustainability journey. The key takeaways are that actions add up over time, from worm farms to asset and resource allocation, and often are the catalyst to effecting positive long-term change.
If we are going to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, we need creative thinkers. That’s why Bluelab is proud to partner with and support the next generation of innovators via the Young Innovator Awards (YiA).
For many Year 7 to 11 students (ages 10-18) here in Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, the YiA is the highlight of the school calendar. In November of this year, almost 300 up-and-coming young innovators, entrepreneurs and game-changers presented their creative solutions to real-world problems based on their own experiences or passions. Head judge Jono Jones (the Chief Product and Innovation Officer here at Bluelab) was impressed with the calibre of entries, that ranged from data visualisation apps to inventions that make vaccination needles less intimidating for children.
We’re proud to support the development of the next generation of science and business innovators through initiatives like YiA. Congratulations to the finalists and winners, and we can’t wait to see what our young people bring to the table next year.
This month, we are pleased to welcome our new shareholders, Pioneer Capital and NZ Super Fund. This transaction marks the next phase of our evolution and is a strong endorsement of the outlook for our business.
This partnership helps us to further strengthen our commitment to our vision and purpose as we continue to integrate sustainability practices into our business. We're thrilled to welcome shareholders that are very much aligned to helping us deliver on our purpose of assisting and empowering the controlled agriculture growers of the future. Bluelab will have access to more resources on our B-Corp journey, and gain knowledge and experience from the other 23 high-growth companies in their portfolio.
We would like to recognise our outgoing shareholder, Oriens Capital, for their contribution over the period of their investment. Thanks also to our advisors at PwC New Zealand during this transaction.
We are so excited to announce that Bluelab are finalists for three categories in this year's New Zealand International Business Awards by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.
Through the award submission process, the judges got to know Bluelab—our purpose and vision, our people, and the value we bring to our customers around the world every day. For us, it’s an important time to reflect and celebrate 30 years of business innovation. We'd like to thank our incredible team, and we're honoured to feature alongside the other finalists in this celebration of New Zealand's international business community.
The winners will be announced in February of 2022, so watch this space!
In May of this year, Bluelab announced our commitment to joining companies like Patagonia and AeroFarms in becoming B-Corp certified. The certification represents the highest standard of verified sustainability performance, and to get there is a long, yet worthwhile, journey ahead. In the spirit of Growing Together, we want to keep you updated every step of the way.
The SDGs (sustainable development goals)–17 goals outlined by the UN – provide a framework for helping Bluelab to shape our sustainability strategy. Choosing 1-5 of these goals represents a first step in our journey to B-Corp status. Over August, independent sustainability consultancy thinkstep-anz helped us take a collaborative approach to identify which goals we can impact most in our first SDG workshop. Employees from all departments were invited to participate, ensuring input from our whole supply chain.
We can’t wait to reveal our future sustainability goals right here on the Journey to a Healthier World blog.
This month, driven by our Bluelab Global Impact Committee, the team chose to support our Grow Together behaviour by raising an incredible $1500 NZD ($1000 USD) for the Dry July Trust, which supports cancer organisations across New Zealand.
In true Bluelab style, the global team went above and beyond with many giving up something they enjoy for the whole month of July. While Dry July usually focuses on omitting alcohol, we put our own spin on the theme so more people could contribute. Most chose to go plant-based to align with our sustainability brand purpose, but the team got creative by giving up anything that they considered a challenge—including alcohol, cheese or coffee! We also had two excellent plant-based charity team lunches prepared by our Production Supervisor and former professional chef, Gareth Howe, to help boost donations.
If you’re in a workplace, we can highly recommend taking part next year as a way to promote health, wellness and team connection while supporting such a great cause. Here’s the link to sign up for the next one—we will see you there!
Guided by our purpose of greater sustainability, June saw the rollout of our first product to have a packaging update—the Truncheon Nutrient Meter.
After extensive research on different packaging materials, exploring both durability and sustainability, we replaced the plastic sleeve on the Truncheon with a recycle-grade cardboard box, reducing yearly plastic waste by 3.36 tonnes. The product instructions are now housed in our online knowledge base and printed on the box helping us to eliminate inserts, saving many thousands of pieces of paper.
Over the next year, we’ll be rolling out new packaging for every Bluelab product with sustainability and business efficiency front of mind. To ensure our community of Bluelab Resellers and Retailers are fully supported with the changes, we’ve also launched a new Partners blog and monthly newsletter, where our Global Marketing Manager, Tracey Bradley, will post rolling updates as they happen.
Of course, this project wouldn’t have the impact we want without the full support of our Bluelab community, so I’d like to take a moment to thank everyone for their contribution on our Journey to a Healthier World.
As indicated by our purpose - the art of growing for a healthier world - we’re constantly looking for ways to ensure a better future for all. This is why one of our big upcoming focuses will be starting the journey towards B Corporation certification, a third-party accreditation that requires companies to meet social sustainability and environmental performance standards.
As part of our first steps towards this, we’ve begun talks with thinkstep-anz to review and identify Bluelab’s target Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs are a collection of 17 global goals that have been designed as a blueprint for achieving a better and more sustainable future. Set up by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, the SDGs are intended to be achieved by 2030.
Although we know that the road to becoming B Corporation certified may feature challenges and obstacles along the way, we are very excited to embark on this incredibly rewarding journey where we get to play a part in creating a more sustainable world.
We’ve recently received the exciting news that Bluelab is one of the six finalists being considered for the prestigious NZ Hi-Tech Awards Company of the Year title for 2021. Founded in 1994, these awards celebrate New Zealand-based companies within various technology sectors, including ICT, software, biotechnology, digital media and more.
All of this year’s entries had several criteria to fulfil, including those around workplace diversity and equality, long-term sustainability and their response to the COVID-19 global health crisis. We were delighted to report back on the progress we’ve made since launching our sustainability-first ‘the art of growing for a healthier world’ purpose, as well as experiencing an 88% increase in revenue despite the challenges caused by COVID-19. One of our biggest sources of pride, however, is our diversity and inclusiveness, where our headquarters is home to team members from South Africa, Europe, India and Southeast Asia.
In an update from last year, we shared how the Global Impact Committee has cleaned out and taken over Bluelab’s on-site greenhouse. This has been a resounding success, culminating in a large harvest of fresh basil in the past few weeks. As a result, the committee turned this basil into pesto - and so Besto Pesto came into being! Launching both a standard and vegan version, these jars were sold to the team at our New Zealand headquarters, and the proceeds will be used to buy new seeds for the greenhouse, as well as for the continuing education of the greenhouse volunteers. We look forward to sharing news of future harvests.
In other news, our team has been hard at work improving and redesigning Bluelab’s product packaging. As part of this project, we’ve taken the decision to remove the plastic sleeve that has traditionally accompanied our Truncheon Nutrient Meter. This single action will reduce our plastic waste by 3.36 tonnes every year. This is just one of the many ways that we intend to improve our environmental impact; watch this space for announcements of other sustainable initiatives we plan to roll out.
Another month, another fantastic local initiative. This month, employees at our headquarters in New Zealand have been taking part in the month-long Aotearoa Bike Challenge. This annual challenge sees employees from organisations across the Bay of Plenty region take part in this friendly and free competition, with prizes for those who cycle the furthest overall distances.
The Aotearoa Bike Challenge celebrates the joy of cycling as well as the numerous mental and physical benefits that this activity affords. So far, over 10% of all our employees have been regularly taking part throughout the month, and we’re on track to take the third position in the Engineering and Manufacturing Organisations category.
While the weather remains fair on our side of the world, we’ll continue to support local initiatives that encourage our employees to boost their health and wellbeing while getting to enjoy the outdoors. We are already looking forward to taking part in next year’s Aotearoa Bike Challenge!
First off: Happy New Year! We’re excited to expand upon all the exciting initiatives we launched during the past year, as well as introduce new initiatives that capture our journey towards a healthier world for all.
One such local initiative is Surfing for Farmers. Founded in 2018, Surfing for Farmers aims to improve the mental health and wellbeing of New Zealand’s farming community. In New Zealand, suicide rates are alarmingly high, especially in rural areas - that’s why there’s never been a better time to address mental health than right now.
Throughout the summer, farmers can join in on a weekly surf-and-barbecue session, meeting fellow farmers while having a chance to enjoy some outdoor exercise at a local beach. Bluelab has proudly joined forces with Surfing for Farmers as a Local Legend sponsor.
In addition to our sponsorship, members of our Global Impact Committee have gone down to the sessions to help out with the barbecue and meet the local farmers taking part in this wonderful initiative. We look forward to exploring other wellbeing-boosting activities like this throughout 2021.
As we reflect on what 2020 has taught us, several themes emerge. The first of these is gratitude. In the midst of really challenging times, we have much to be grateful for. We are grateful to the customers who stuck by us when we faced severe restrictions on our ability to make and ship product. We are grateful to our suppliers who, when facing enormous pressure, did their very best to keep us supplied at all times. And, we are grateful to our amazing Bluelab employees who worked incredibly hard to look after everyone and to ensure we emerge into 2021 in a better position than we started 2020.
That brings me to our second theme, which is optimism. If 2020 has been the worst year in recent human history, then 2021 must surely be better. While we started the year barely knowing what COVID-19 was, we have ended the year with several potential vaccines. The way people around the world have rallied to deal with this threat gives rise to much optimism. While the lives that we used to lead may not be back for a while, the way people have thrived in difficult circumstance gives us plenty of reasons to be optimistic about 2021.
My final theme is acceleration. 2020 has taught us that we need to accelerate everything we do, from increasing our customer contacts and interactions, to making our supply chains more resilient and to increasing our ability to deliver Bluelab products in a timely fashion. We look forward to you being part of that journey. In the meantime, Happy Holidays and may the New Year bring the opportunity to renew past connections and forge new ones.
This month, we took great strides within a number of our new office-based initiatives. Firstly, a team of volunteers cleaned our on-site greenhouse and installed a number of grow boxes. Using the non-recirculating Kratky method, we are now growing an array of leafy greens, including spinach, basil and kale. The goal of this initiative is to teach our employees about hydroponics while also growing fresh produce for local food banks.
In addition, our Global Impact Committee has completed a full audit of our office’s current use of rubbish and recycling bins, ensuring that these are allocated correctly with visual signage that will help employees use these optimally. In the long run, this will vastly improve sustainability in the workplace.
Lastly, we’ve partnered with Why Waste, a nation-wide network of professionally serviced worm farms in households and businesses, who came to our headquarters to chat with our team about what they do and how we can get the most out of our farm. This worm farm will transform our food waste into soil and worm tea, which will then be distributed throughout the business to those who have gardens at home.
In my last update, I mentioned how reducing office waste is one of our Global Impact Committee’s key focus areas. This is becoming a major concern for companies around the world and, in order to truly make a difference with our new initiatives, we used this past month to take a deeper dive into the scale of this issue, find out how other companies approach this and discover what recycling means to the people within our organisation.
As a result of this ongoing and extensive audit, we’ve identified a number of exciting activities and changes that will sharply reduce our overall office waste. These range from simple changes such as more visual signage and the physical separation of recycling bins to in-depth educational sessions on topics such as Bokashi, a traditional Japanese composting method, and installing a worm farm on site.
This is just the start of our journey to a waste-free office and I look forward to updating you on our progress towards this goal.
During the past month, we’ve been developing some exciting initiatives through our newly launched Global Impact Committee. One of this committee’s key focuses is to vastly reduce office waste; they’re currently investigating a variety of traditional composting methods to help cut down on food waste and are planning to host workshops so that all employees can get involved.
The committee is also looking at ways to improve existing facilities at Bluelab’s New Zealand headquarters. This includes our greenhouse, which will be repurposed into a communal growing area for our employees, providing fresh and nutritious produce while also giving everyone the opportunity to try their hand at growing.
Lastly, to ensure that mental and physical wellbeing always remains a priority, we’re planning to introduce regular yoga and stretching classes for both our New Zealand-based team and those working remotely. I look forward to sharing updates and further initiatives like these with you in the coming months.
Last month, our update was all about the changes we’ve been making close to home at our New Zealand headquarters. During this past month, we’ve launched another new exciting initiative: our first official Global Impact Committee.
Consisting of employees located in New Zealand, Europe and the US, the Global Impact Committee will be looking at ways to improve sustainability at our offices, as well as boosting the health and wellbeing of all Bluelab employees. They’ll be leading a wide range of activities, from composting food waste from our office kitchens to growing produce at Bluelab’s greenhouse as well as encouraging employees to grow their own vegetables at home.
I look forward to sharing an update with you once these activities fully commence. Next month, I will also go into more detail about our game-changing plans to prioritise sustainability as we design our new packaging as part of our official rebranding.
With all the activity that’s been going on, it’s hard to believe that we only launched our rebrand last month. During the past few weeks, we’ve been delving deeper into our new purpose - the art of growing for a healthier world - on social media and we’ve also begun the work of bolstering our educational offerings on our new Art of Growing blog.
However, we created this Journey to a Healthier World blog to show Bluelab’s personal journey towards a healthier, more sustainable world. For us, this starts at home and that’s why we’ve been making some changes at our newly revamped headquarters in New Zealand.
This month, our office started implementing policies so that we can go completely paperless, we’ve filled all communal spaces with over 100 plants and we’ve rolled out a 50% plant-based catering policy. In the long run, we believe that these initiatives will lead to a happier, healthier and less wasteful work environment. We look forward to rolling out similar initiatives during the months ahead.
You may be wondering: why rebrand now and why redefine Bluelab’s purpose?
Well, we really believe that plants hold the key - and growers bring their skills - to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges, but this cannot be achieved with unsustainable growing practices. By focusing our mission on creating products, technology and educational platforms that empower growers to succeed at every stage in their controlled environment agriculture journey, we believe that we are in a unique position to elevate the standard of growing - and create a healthier world for all.
It can’t be emphasised enough: we believe in the art of growing for a healthier world.
We may have redefined our purpose, but we're still Bluelab - now with a capital B. The new brand logo’s font is bolder so that we can stand out across the retail store floor, and we’re now one colour, not four. The circle emerging above the B intersects with the top ring in the letter. It's a nod back to the intersecting-circles icon that we felt represented the opposites, the tensions or pairings we're used to navigating - hardware and software, food and medicine, water and soil, acid and alkali.
Our journey to a healthier world is a marathon not a sprint, so every month I will be posting an update so that you can follow our journey to a healthier world. Let's grow together.
The House of Science New Zealand is a charitable trust that aims to build young New Zealanders’ interest in science through tangible learning experiences. Their activities include providing training to teachers as well as delivering high-quality science resource kits to schools across the country. Bluelab has become involved in this trust’s ground-breaking activities by providing financial support to purchase the above-mentioned classroom science kits. Just as the House of Science believes that science helps to build competencies like problem solving and critical thinking, Bluelab is a firm believer that innovation can start at any age.
The PlantTech Research Institute has a mission to accelerate innovation and find solutions to horticulture challenges through artificial intelligence technology. This regional institute merges academic research and industry experience to learn and come up with collaborative solutions. That’s where Bluelab steps in. Bluelab is one of the ten founding shareholder organisations in PlantTech’s consortium. Bluelab is proud to be involved in this local initiative, collaborating with others to create a healthier world through sustainable horticulture.
Bluelab is a key partner for the New Zealand-based Young Innovator Awards (YiA), which focuses on celebrating and inspiring innovation leadership. Targeting students in years 7-13, this project challenges contestants to come up with an innovative product or service that can be used to address real-world problems. Past prize-winning ideas included Swift Wrap, a first aid kit dispenser that helps to treat burns victims, as well as iBrite, where LED strips help dyslexic students to read, write and relax. Jono Jones, Bluelab’s Chief Product and Innovation Officer, has served as a judge for past awards and prize winners have also won the opportunity to complete work experience at Bluelab’s Tauranga office. Our ongoing partnership with YiA enables us to empower and inspire the next generation to become leaders in innovation so that they can solve the issues of tomorrow, creating a better – and healthier – world for all.
Bluelab is an official sponsor of the Groundswell Festival of Innovation, which takes place in Tauranga every September. This festival brings together national and international experts from a wide range of backgrounds, including arts and culture, sports science, engineering and technology. Over the course of the festival, attendees can hear talks and participate in interactive workshops. Past events have featured household names like adidas, Hootsuite, Air New Zealand and Weta Workshop. This festival is all about celebrating initiatives that push the boundaries and break the mould. Since innovation is a key goal at Bluelab as well - where we’re constantly looking to take our award-winning products to the next level - we’re extremely proud to be involved in New Zealand’s innovation community.
The TEDx concept needs no lengthy introduction; the TEDx goal of championing ‘ideas worth spreading’ has been welcomed worldwide, with many local chapters hosting their own events. Bluelab is a proud sponsor of TEDxTauranga, which hosts one main event per year. During this independently organised event, attendees hear numerous talks on a wide variety of themes. While no two talks are the same, innovation plays a key role in many of the stories shared during TEDxTauranga. This is yet another way that Bluelab has cemented its connection to Tauranga’s innovation community while also supporting a world-class local initiative.