Adam Hall has supported us since the beginning. He’s not only the Head of Sustainability at Surfdome and the Internet Fusion Group, but also our friend. Adam has made huge steps forwards in plastic-free packaging at Surfdome and is championing change on a global level amongst the companies that they work with.
Get to know Adam and the awesome things he does by reading on.
Hey Adam, thanks for getting involved. How was 2020 for you in a nutshell?
Very different, but I’ve used the time to really connect with my local area and appreciate it more. I’ve had much more time with my family too which is epic – I managed to get my little girl riding her bike, so time well spent!
Tell us a bit about your role as Head of Sustainability at Surfdome and the Internet Fusion Group.
My background is in sustainability and the surfing industry. I started at Surfdome in 2014 and was brought in to make sure we better represented the communities we serve. The environment is of the upmost importance to us and our customers – after all, we are in nature every chance we get. So alongside supporting the sports we endorse through sporting governing bodies and events, we got started on our sustainability efforts.
Surfdome is now part of the Internet Fusion Group and our sustainability drive has grown stronger. As we are a mainly action sports retailer it makes sense that our approach always involved taking action!
We’ve always strived to make real changes that have a very real impact on the environment. We’ve never chased certification or awards that might distract us from the ‘real’ work of considerably limiting our impact on the environment. If we get publicity or exposure for doing so that’s great, but that’s not the objective.
There are far too many ‘real’ actions to list, but these will give you an idea:
- In 2015 we eliminated 74% of the plastic from our packaging (14 tonnes) in one quarter
- In 2019 and 2020 our packaging became 99.8% plastic free and made up of 96% recycled material
- In 2018 we released a policy that limited the plastic our 1,000+ brands sent us (some of which are the biggest outdoor brands on the planet). This resulted in 94% recycling rates in our warehouse (and always zero to landfill)
- In 2018 we moved to a highly sustainable warehouse – just outside the top 1% of the most sustainable buildings in the UK
- In 2019 we quadrupled our solar PV systems
- We are the founding supporters of both The 2 Minute Foundation and Protect Our Winters UK
When did you first hear about The 2 Minute Foundation and how are you involved with us?
I met Neil Hembrow (the godfather of SW beach cleans) from Keep Britain Tidy’s ‘Beach Care’ in early 2014. He mentioned he had a friend in Bude who had started a hash tag that was going crazy. He put me in touch with Martin and within a week or so Martin, Neil and I were sipping tea on my deck watching the surf! I was somewhat star struck by Martin being at my place, fresh from his BBC 2 TV series! Right away we became the founding supporter of the then #2minutebeachclean and we’ve supported ever since. I’ve become a proud trustee of The 2 Minute Foundation and, most importantly, I call Martin my mate!
When did you first realise there was a serious plastic pollution issue?
It’s tough to pinpoint an exact time… I think it kind of crept up on me, and it wasn’t one sudden realisation. I, like many, can remember clean (or cleaner) beaches. But a key moment that sticks out for me was a visit from my Mum. She grew up on the coast in the west country but moved inland a long time ago. On one of her visits back we headed to the beach for the day. I caught her gathering up micro plastic close to where we were sat and she commented that there must have been some kind of spill there. I replied ‘it’s everywhere Mum, this is the reality now.’ I’ll never forget her disappointment as she looked all the way along the beach and noticed tiny spots of plastic along the strand-line. I’m genuinely gutted this has happened my lifetime! (I’m so sorry kids!)
Surfdome is now 99.8% plastic free across the business, which is incredible! What makes up the 0.2% and how are you planning to cut it out?
Plastic shrink or pallet wrap – currently there is no viable alternative where a reuse solution is not available (we’ve got rid of around 75% by using reusable pallet containers). However, that’s about to change this very week. We will be one of the first companies in the world to trial a plastic free wrap solution – 100% could well be in sight!
The work you’ve done to eliminate plastic packaging is really inspiring. How is your influence filtering up to the big brands that you work alongside?
We carried out a survey of our brands with the sustainability department at Plymouth University. The key points that came from it was that our brands found cost and knowledge a barrier in carrying our sustainability measures. We decided to help.
Firstly our efforts in 2015 were net positive financially. We ring fenced the money from sustainability measures that saved us money and used that on sustainability measures that cost money. We shared this with our brands, which in turn addressed the brands financial concern.
We’ve done our homework over the years when it comes to plastic and packaging, so we knew we had to share this with our brands’ too. We produced a first of its kind ‘Delivery Policy’ that included a traffic light system for every packaging type that was relevant to us. It is a best practice guide and we back it up by stipulating that brands have to comply. Furthermore, we invited our brands to an open day at our highly sustainable warehouse to talk them through the policy.
The result? Great feedback! Many of the brands knew that they had to do something and not only had we spurred many on but we showed them exactly how. Some brands took on a whole new strategy around their sustainability and some employed sustainability managers as a result. Our favourite comment was ‘if we change for you, we’ll have to change for everyone,’ from one of the world’s biggest outdoor brands!
Do you think Surfdome becoming plastic-free has had an impact on the way your customers live too? Obviously protecting the environment must be in-line with most of them as they themselves are surfers, skaters, skiers and snowboarders!
We have millions of customers – so I’d like to think so! We do get overwhelming support from our customers on social media and through Trust Pilot reviews on our packaging. We also try to bring them into The 2 Minute Family – your logos are across all our packaging that we send and have been since 2015.
Do you share your research with other businesses and individuals through talks and articles?
Yes, our sustainability strategy includes us as influencers. We need to share our findings to push the sustainability agenda forward. We carry out numerous talks, create podcasts and write blogs. Our biggest achievements have been talking at the Northern Ireland Houses of Parliament, plus being a case study in Ellen Macarthur Foundations and ‘World Business Council for sustainability Development’ documents, both of which are used to inform policy!
Is there anything exciting for 2021 in the pipeline?
So much – but you know what? We only talk about things we achieve as everything else is just hot air… until you’ve done it! So you’ll have to wait and see!
You may have heard of our #2minutesofpositivity campaign – what small thing do you do each day to put a smile on your face?
Get outside! We are designed to be outside. Appreciate it and look after it!
Read more about sustainability at Surfdome by clicking here.
Image by Devon Digital Imaging