The decision by Saga Furs to shift away from serving drinks from plastic bottles at the company’s auctions took effect in June 2019 and was reportedly well received by the 450 auction goers, representing more than 30 countries. The move came in the wake of a sharp spike up in global awareness of the growing ecological cost of plastic on our environment and on human health.
During the four annual auctions, Saga Furs previously distributed an estimated 600 bottles per day (27,000 bottles per year). These have now been replaced with natural Finnish tap water dispensers and a soda stream machine, sourced with tap water.
Shift seen in good taste
Marika Peuhkuri-Grön, Saga Furs, CSR Project Manager, who spearheaded the campaign, characterized the response from auction-goers, saying:
“We weren’t entirely sure what kind of reactions we would get from our regular customers but happily it was entirely positive. It’s this kind of sustainability leadership that our customers have come to expect from Saga Furs, so they weren’t surprised,” she says. “But what did surprise them was the delicious taste of the natural Finnish water!” Finland’s tap water is ranked among the highest quality in the world.
The gift that keeps giving
But there was one concern. With auction customers on the move all day, they’re used to tossing plastic bottles into their bags to drink on the go. However, the Saga Auction Services team had pre-empted this perceived loss of convenience by gifting each auction customer with a branded, top of the line, reusable stainless-steel water bottle. These were handed out on arrival and personalized with name stickers to avoid confusion.
The Bottles Away campaign continues post-auction with another of the company’s important stakeholder groups, the head office personnel in Vantaa, who have already received their reusable bottles and will have a chance to give feedback during internal sustainability training sessions.
A triple win
The decision by Saga Furs management to move away from plastic bottles was part of Saga Fur’s overall sustainability program, which scrutinizes every aspect of the company’s operations from a social, environmental and economic standpoint.
“Dispensing with plastic bottles is a win for the whole triple bottom line,” says Saga Furs CEO Pertti Fallenius, “supporting human health, our environment, and with even a few economic savings thrown in.”