Share and Reuse: The Brambles|CHEP Approach to Messaging the Circular Economy

CHEP’s parent company, Brambles, helps move more goods to more people in more places than any other organization on earth. Given that, we have the opportunity to make a real contribution to a smarter, more sustainable future.

Our business model has long focused on sharing and reusing finite resources. Brambles customers use our pallets, crates, and containers over and over again. Our circular business model defines how we do things and who we are.

It also defines how we approach communications. While our audiences are diverse (investors, customers, industry groups, employees, etc.), we “share and reuse” key messaging, modifying as necessary for each unique story and audience.

The Challenge: Bring the circular economy to life

Making the circular economy real requires relevant facts, presented in a compelling manner. For this case study, we’ll focus on reaching customers, specifically in our CHEP USA pallet business.

The Solution: Build a compelling story and share it, again and again

To develop effective, consistent circular economy messaging, we talked with stakeholders and compiled proof points. We asked smart questions and listened to the answers.

For example, what do our customers know about CHEP’s role in the circular economy? What do they want or need to know? Why should our work matter to them?

The answers helped us frame communications for many venues, including launch materials for the CHEP CarbonNeutral® half pallet.

The basic fact here is foundational: CHEP innovations help customers become a part of the circular economy. The CHEP CarbonNeutral® half pallet is the first-ever CarbonNeutral®-certified pooled platform in North America. It won the Industrial Pack “Environmental Initiative of the Year” Award in 2018.

We launched the CarbonNeutral half pallet at a retailer-manufacturer session at the Food Marketing institute-Grocery Manufacturers Association Trading Partner Alliance Supply Chain Conference in Orlando, Florida, knowing the timing and locale would help us reach targeted customers.

In keeping with our business model, we “shared and reused” the platform’s circular economy messaging in printed and posted materials and in meetings with customers. CHEP leaders consistently did—and still do—refer to the CarbonNeutral® half pallet as a “sustainability game-changer that protects our planet without compromising profit.”

Environmental impact and third-party credibility drove the message home. We aligned ourselves with the foremost circular economy experts, including the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Natural Capital Partners, and the World Economic Forum. We answered the “Why should they care?” question and kept the story top of mind, weaving CHEP’s circular economy messaging throughout: 

Beyond the half pallet, we communicate CHEP’s circular economy story with the annual CHEP sustainability video and other communication tools, proven to attract media coverage and customer engagement. We also stay front and center, participating in events such as Sustainable Brands, Sustainability in Packaging, and the Global Organic Produce Expo.

The Results: When customers talk about the circular economy, they talk about CHEP

Today, CHEP customers point to their partnership with us as a proof point that they are supporting the circular economy:

At Sustainable Brands 2018, CHEP presented two sessions on the circular economy; both were standing room only. During that same week, our celebration of World Environment Day achieved a nearly 8% engagement on LinkedIn for CHEP North America (2% is best practice).

Some of the most important results of a strategic communications campaign are lessons learned. Based on our experience, new communication tactics for next year will include:

  • Targeted LinkedIn campaigns to reach specific decision makers and sustainability influencers
  • An employee advocacy program
  • A thought leadership ambassador program
  • More customer storytelling/third-party endorsement.

Messaging the circular economy is like gathering in a circle around a campfire. The audience is there, eager for a good tale. It’s up to us to share a terrific story and tell it again and again.

Suzanne Lindsay-Walker
Chief Sustainability Officer and Vice President of Environmental Affairs, UPS