Our Policies

 

Click on the item listed, or scroll down to see our policies and updates:

 

ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

SESI Food and Household Refill LLP is committed to leading its industry sector in minimising the negative impact of its own activities on the environment, creating positive environmental impacts where achievable, and helping its partners to do likewise.

Under the terms of the policy we will:

  1. Source and promote a product range to minimise the environmental impact of both production and distribution and usage.

  2. Ensure all products are vegan, cruelty free and biodegradable.

  3. Meet and then attempt to exceed all the environmental legislation that relates to the Company.

  4. Measure our greenhouse gas emissions and set targets to improve.

  5. Minimise waste by evaluating operations and ensuring they are as efficient as possible.

  6. Minimise toxic emissions through the selection and use of our fleet vehicles and the sourcing of our power requirements.

  7. Regularly update our route planning systems to minimise our use of energy within logistics and our delivery services.

  8. Actively promote reuse over recycling both internally and amongst our customers and suppliers and the wider community.

  9. Develop in-house tools and equipment from reclaimed materials.

  10. Promote recycling where reusable products are at end of life or not available.

  11. Conduct research to keep up with important environmental and biodiversity issues such as farming, human rights, animal rights, food justice, forestry protection.

  12. Make sure that our policies and services are developed in a way that is complementary to this policy..

  13. Identify and provide training opportunities, advice and information for staff and encourage them to develop new ideas and initiatives related to environmental concerns.

  14. Practice transparency. We are not complacent and dig deep for uncomfortable truths about any products and practices, especially our own.

 

ETHICAL AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY POLICY

SESI Food and Household Refill LLP is committed to leading its industry sector in excellence in social and ethical standards within the partnership as well as in its business relationships and as a member of the local and global community.

Within this policy we will:

1 Adhere to all occupational health and safety, fire, environmental health, home office, and sector specific manufacturing regulations and legislation

2 Proactively support gender equality and racial diversity in our workforce and eliminate any practices that put that principle under threat, helping our team to become aware of their biases, unconscious or otherwise.

3 Not tolerate discrimination against any protected characteristic in our company or within our trading partners

4 Not condone or participate in trading any product that may involve forced, compulsory or child labour, nor involves breaches of human rights, basic labour standards or a risk of modern slavery.

5. Not tolerate sexual harassment

6 Support and assist in freedom of association, the right to organise and for collective bargaining in the company and throughout the supply chain, as exemplified by the 8 Fundamental Conventions of the International Labour Organisation.

7 Be a responsible employer by giving all employees a formal employment contract that includes pay in excess of the Real Living Wage, a functional grievance procedure for employees, and providing a generous pension and leave provision, and adequate insurance policies that cover industrial injury.

8 Promote worker engagement by regular meetings with management and voting participation as partners of all qualifying employees.

9 Strive to build loyalty and a sense of community and progress for employees by a range of measures not limited to encouraging and supporting training and upskilling of employees and the provision of benefits and social events

10 Work with local charities to support them with donations and goods as and when opportunity arises.

11 Foster long term relationships with schools and community groups locally to promote engagement, education and sharing our knowledge and vision.

12 Maintain a global vision and critique and communicate that via our social media and through international collaborations.

13 Always be protective of the health and welfare of the end consumers that use our products.

14 Keep abreast of current learning and research in the product sectors we work in, aiming to increasingly be an active researcher and innovator ourself, and communicate new learning or concerns to our consumer audience, adjusting our formulations to maximise effect without magnifying harm to the consumer or environment.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL, ETHICAL AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2023

SUMMARY

Overall the 2023 year was dominated by the huge effort to move the company to a new site on the North side of Oxford, and the aftermath on that move which saw the focus move to improving our warehouse processes through building new infrastructure.  The move generated a change of staff in the warehouse.  We were nearly made bankrupt by the old landlord claiming extraordinary dilapidations which exposed a feudal and exploitative aspect of commercial lease law.  By pure luck the claim was discontinued.

The cost of the move has severely drained SESI’s coffers coinciding with a deepening High Street recession throughout 2023 that has forced the closure of a good number of customers.  This has required us to shrink the SESI team to match the lower volumes.  This was done by not replacing leaving staff, tweaking job functions but without redundancies.  These economic impacts have depleted the capital budget so some projects that would have featured highly on environmental and social responsibility criteria are moving forward to a slower timeline or are on hold.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE YEAR

  • Moved premises in April 2023 giving us improved facilities for warehouse, office and meeting and recreation space with greater security systems and a bigger industrial estate that contains traders we can buy services from and collaborate with. (S1 S7)
  • Installed a new washroom with waste water capture. (E3 E5 E9)
  • Introduced the PackSack for cost effective and low emission  return of empty packaging from distant locations. (E1 E5 E6 E7 E8)
  • Successfully recruited new warehouse workers and trained them in forklifting. (S2 S7 S9)
  • Introduced a phenoxyethanol free laundry liquid range. (E1 S13 S14)
  • Introduced 100% recycled rPET and rHDPE ‘starter’ bottle in place of the virgin plastic one we were stocking, despite complaints from some stockists that it isn’t see-through enough. (E1 E8 E14 S14)
  • Embedded and expanded our collaboration with Velocity Bike Delivery Service for electric refill and return for Oxford based stockists. (E7 S15)
  • Made progress in making delivery routes more efficient by reducing missed deliveries by sanctioning offenders and arranging to hold keys of shops where possible. (E5)
  • Redesign of our 20L tub labels to reduce wear and tear loss, improve branding, simplify application and reduce plastic backing waste. (E5)
  • Supported Emmaus and the Oxford Food Hub with donations of excess stock. (S10)
  • Participated in developing Oxford County Council Circular Economy Route Map. (S11)

BIGGEST CONCERNS IN THE 2023 YEAR

  • Delays in pursuing GHG modelling due to shortage of staff (E4)
  • Higher than desired turnover in warehouse staff (S3 S8)
  • New project development delays due to cashflow squeeze and recessionary effects (E1 E11)
  • Attempted £70k dilapidations claim by former landlord signalling a failure of the relationship with the lessor and vulnerability of the enterprise to the legal powers of landlords  inherent in commercial property law. (E15)

TARGETS FOR 2024 RELATING TO ETHICAL AND SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

  • Expand access to refill via seeking a charity shop chain partner to set up 60L barrel based refill stations
  • Set up an eco-washing service for other businesses transitioning to container reuse, using air dry and hydrochlorous acid sanitization through the completion of the mezzanine drying area in our warehouse and associated technology
  • Complete our laboratory space and equip ready to do inhouse testing and QA
  • Trial a pilot track and trace system for 20L tubs.
  • Commence a pilot scheme for selling commercial anti-bacterials in Oxfordshire.
  • Commence GHG emissions quantification and modelling.
  • Acquire an electric van for the anti-bacterials project and local goods movements.

 

 

SESI ANIMAL TESTING POLICY

At SESI Food and Household Refill LLP, we produce detergents, soaps and toiletries that contain no animal products in the formulation, and we therefore label them as vegan.

Additionally, no animal testing is carried out in trialling and assessing our products.

Some common and basic ingredients used in the household and beauty industries were long ago tested on animals.  More recent compounds may or may not be tested on animals. 

Our policy is strictly to not use ingredients tested on animals after 11th March 2013.  This is the commonest fixed cut-off date when EU regulations in this area came into force and is widely accepted for purposes of vegan certification.

Our Formulation Restrictions used to guide in the development of new products includes the above criteria and we get a complete list of chemical components in new formulas so we can check compliance with our animal testing criteria.

We require third party toiletries and detergents that we may distribute have a similarly restrictive animal testing policy.

 

 

SUPPLY CHAIN POLICY

SESI will:

  • Continuously improve and transform the environmental, social and labour related impacts of trading, forward and backward in the supply chain. 
  • Strengthen relationships of equals within the supply chain, in and outside the UK.

We use questionnaires mainly plus visits and regular daily interaction to gauge competence and compliance  in the following areas:

1 Environmental management including attention to climate change issues,

2 Clean production, pollution reduction and management, use and disposal of hazardous materials and waste management,

3 Minimisation of energy and natural resource usage,

4 Being a good employer through regulatory compliance with laws pertaining to contracts, labour and unionisation,

5 Fomenting a safe working space through attention to working hours, health and safety, fire safety and risk assessment in the workplace,

6 Absolute adherence to gender equality, racial diversity, legal use of migrant/casual workers, policies to encourage employee retention, the living wage, vigilance against modern slavery and discrimination,

7 Community and stakeholder engagement and social campaigning,

8 Product safety, design, and protection of the consumer and public. 

Where we discover substandard policy and practice by suppliers we will work with them to remediate issues. 

If we are unable to achieve an acceptable level of compliance or unable to gain information on policy and practice where we suspect non-conformance, we will sever ties with that supplier.

Choice of our upstream partnerships (our business customers) will also be fostered with attention to the above criteria.  We have a preference to supply to individuals, coops and CICs, family firms and independent traders and trading charities, and exercise caution in supplying into multi-nationals and supermarket chains as their business practices have been widely criticised from an ethical, environmental and employment perspective.

We do however accept that we may be able to have more mainstream impact to improve environmental and economic outcomes in society if we do engage with the multi-national and supermarket sectors if we can do so on our terms.


 

SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL POLICY

SESI Food and Household Refill LLP considers sustainable palm oil as one of the preferred raw materials to use to manufacture surfactants in detergents and toiletries and for its many uses in food products.

The other plant oils that can substitute for palm oil are potentially more damaging to the ecosphere because they require a higher hectarage for a given yield and are grown in even more sensitive ecologies than palm oil.

Therefore it is imperative to achieve properly sustainable practices in palm oil production and the efforts of the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil are to be commended while the failings in the process to date are acknowledged.

To this end, SESI will within this policy:

1 Only use RSPO certified palm oil in our formulas when choosing palm oil derivatives.

2 Not resell third party products containing non-RSPO palm oil.

3 Research alternatives to palm oil, preferably home grown plant wastes sources of raw material with a view to comparing the relative technical, environmental and economic benefits of alternatives to palm oil and moving formulas towards non harmful alternativess.

4 Support the RSPO initiative through communication of its work and of the issues around palm oil to our community.

 

 

 

PRODUCT CHEMISTRY POLICY

SESI Food and Household Refill LLP is committed to avoid toxic and harmful chemicals and constituents in the products it makes or commissions others to make, or distributes on behalf of other manufacturers.

This policy should be read in conjunction with the Environmental Policy and Sustainable Palm Oil Policy.

Within this policy we will not use the following compounds in manufacture of SESI toiletries and cleaning products nor stock other manufactured goods containing these compounds:

  • Phosphates [major cause of water eutrophication]
  • Chlorine Bleach [toxic to aquatic life and breaks down to highly toxic products in some environments]
  • Phthalates [endocrine and fertility disruptor]
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI, MIT) [provokes common allergic reaction]
  • Parabens [weak estrogenic effects and allergenic]
  • Formaldehyde [toxic and carcinogenic]
  • Microplastics [long lasting and damaging to the aquatic food chain]
  • Liquid plastics like Acrylate Copolymers [long lasting]
  • Optical Brighteners [long lasting bio-accumulators]
  • SLS [skin irritant]
  • Triclosan [bioaccumulator with hormonal effects]
  • BPA [endocrine disruptor]

Within this policy we do use these classes of products in appropriate situations:

  • SLES

Sodium Laureth Sulphate is used as the main surfactant in many of our cleaners.  It is derived from RSPO palm oil and we believe is the best choice of surfactant available on the market today as the alternatives are more environmentally damaging.  Coconut derived surfactants come from fragile ecosystems, produce far less raw material per hectare and are less regulated than the palm oil industry. 

There have been concerns about byproduct dioxanes being created in some of the processes used to make SLES and in the last 3 years some alternative plant based surfactants made from agricultural straw have been piloted in the industry.  This offers a superior medium term solution if it successfully scales.

  • Dyes

Dyes are only used in our commercial range of anti-bacterials where there is a hospitality industry norm that products are instantly distinguished using colour.

  • Petroleum derivatives

We use one petroleum derivative which is phenoxyethanol.  It is an extremely effective and harmless preservative.  The main plant based alternative is sodium benzoate but the cost impact of this inferior preservative rules it out for detergents trying to be price accessible to the mass market.

A better approach we have successfully used is to use acidity or alkalinity to make a microbe intolerant product.  We introduced a phenoxyethanol free range of concentrated laundry detergents in 2023, but this approach isn’t appropriate for washing up liquids and household cleaners.

  • Fragrances

As fragrances are a complex mix of esters and compounds which in bulk are hazardous materials and can provoke dermatatogical irritation even at the low concentrations in products, we offer fragrance free versions of all the main laundry and wash up products.

Where we do fragranced household detergents and soaps we use a blend of manufactured fragrant chemicals and natural plant extracts from sustainable sources.

 

 

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SESI STATEMENT OF BUSINESS ETHOS AND GUIDING PRINCIPLES

1) No advertising or use of marketing manipulation - We will not copy the neoliberal model of cynical sales pitches, eco-misinformation and intrusive advertising that ultimately leads to over consumption. SESI never uses paid advertising and has grown essentially by word of mouth, networking, campaigning and volunteering. By concentrating on product quality and providing products of good value, our customers have helped us to find us new markets and develop products through honest feedback and sharing of research.

2) Work within the economic means of the many to have the biggest impact - At SESI we have prioritised the accessible supply of local, fair trade and organic (certified) food to people of low to average income. We are now en route to achieve similar goals with supplying refillable, vegan and organic certified cleaning and personal care products. We will make affordability a priority as we continue changing consumer behaviour that doesn’t tax the pocket or the earth. As we expand we hope to be able to work with more accreditations, but will ensure we do this without raising the production costs of our products in a way that stops people being part of change.

3) Democracy belongs in the workplace – there is a consensus that democracy is beneficial in our political structures but put less importance on industrial democracy.  We believe individual mental welfare and human justice is also dependent on bringing democracy into our economic lives. At SESI all workers that meet the criteria for membership gain voting rights in the management of the partnership.

4) All those that participate in producing wealth have a right to share that wealth - many of society’s ills and environmental crises are the result of a poverty of capital and savings with excessive wealth accumulated by a protected and distant few. SESI workers acquire a share of the partnership’s net worth each year over and above pension contributions.

5) Cooperation is a stronger force in business than competition - SESI is building a network of refill traders who cooperate through hubs to mutually support each other in times of need, sharing resources and skills, which helps build community resilience.

6) Act against income inequity - one of the least defensible aspects of modern global economy is the excessive rewards to elite members of society. SESI limits the maximum ratio between highest wage and lowest wage. Currently the bar is at 1:3. Also our minimum wage is the Real Living Wage, which is higher than the National Living Wage.

7) Support Good Causes - not everything good is provided by the free market or the state. SESI is constitutionally bound to donate 10% of its profit after reinvestment, to community and environmental causes.

8) Be a Corporate Good Citizen - We believe there is space for all honest and well-run companies to shine and thrive without undermining the efforts of others. We keep an open door policy to collaboration with other companies, a strategy we are having great success with, where we see opportunities to lower costs to consumers or function with less waste and pollution overall. We support doughnut economics which seeks the ‘Goldilocks zone’ between ecological / social / economic insufficiency and over-reach.

9) Support Other Co-ops - a corollary to the above point, social enterprises, co-ops and family firms are our favoured trading partners. They are usually the best workplaces to work, and an economy comprised of a majority of such firms would obviate most of the environmental bad practice from ever happening in the first place.

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