Share co-founder Iris Braun wants to reach the masses. Your Berlin company has made it its mission to improve the world through consumption. Every water bottle, every shampoo and every pen produced by Share is intended to support a social product and thus people in need.
The demand for groceries, stationery and care products is constantly increasing. Share turned over a double-digit million amount last year. The products are available in stores such as dm, Rewe and Kaufland. However, the sales market for sustainable products is still small. To change that, Braun is also demanding state support.
“Without politics, there will be no tipping point,” said the founder at the Better Future Conference of WELT AM SONNTAG and Commerzbank. This means that from a certain point in time the demand for sustainable products will increase so much that environmentally friendly consumption and thus sustainable production will become the norm.
Sustainable conversion is one of the greatest tasks of the German economy. Solar roofs, meat substitutes, alternative drive technologies such as e-cars for new cars or synthetic fuels for existing vehicles should gain in importance in the future. But how can the green transformation actually succeed?
Should politicians rely on free competition and voluntary commitments? The companies disagree. Traditional companies in particular would like more time to implement the higher standards.
As a result of the Ukraine conflict and rising inflation, the issue of sustainability has receded into the background in public awareness in recent months.
The Federal Statistical Office reported an inflation rate of 7.9 for May. Percent. Food prices even rose by 11.1 percent. At the same time, a recession is looming. Consumers are correspondingly unsettled and are curbing their consumption of higher-priced foods.
“Organic brands are currently less in demand,” explained Jan Bredack, founder of the vegan organic brand Veganz. But that is not just a question of price, but also a question of education, income and habits. In other European countries, the willingness to pay for high-quality organic products remains high, even in times of inflation.
In Germany, on the other hand, discounters such as Aldi and Lidl have helped people get used to cheap groceries as a result of price competition. It is important “not to lose sight of sustainability now,” says Share co-founder Braun. “The state has to rethink. It must be possible to offer cheaper alternatives to animal products.”
Maximilian Fricke, an expert on energy and climate policy at the Federation of German Industries (BDI), counters that “money for sustainability must first be raised”: “There also needs to be a market for sustainable products.” Sustainability comes from the companies’ own initiative carried into society and not required by law, says Fricke.
Nicolaus Heinen, who is responsible for the ESG strategy at Deutsche Börse, takes a similar view: “The state should take care of the regulatory framework so that companies can finance particularly sustainable innovations and compete with them.”
According to a Commerzbank study, for more than 80 percent of the medium-sized companies surveyed, sustainability is crucial for their own future viability. Nevertheless, only 30 percent pursue their own sustainability strategy.
“We still see room for improvement here. Our goal is therefore to provide our customers with comprehensive advice and support with a view to a sustainable business model,” says Christian Hassel, Divisional Board Member for Private and Small Business Customers at Commerzbank.
The financial sector can play a key role here, because financing conditions are increasingly based on sustainability criteria. In Hassel’s opinion, however, more uniform regulations and standards are needed.
“The fact that there are still no uniform standards for sustainability in the market gives companies a wide scope for interpretation – and also makes greenwashing possible in the first place,” warns Deutsche Börse expert Heinen. In this way, every company can take up the cause of the standards according to which it meets ESG criteria. ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance.
However, funds that contain oil or armaments companies that are the most sustainable in an industry comparison are also considered green – the so-called best-in-class principle. If Commerzbank manager Hassel has his way, this could be questioned and “a more extensive approach can be used to ensure comprehensible transparency with regard to the real sustainability of the allocated companies”.
In addition, the manager already expects that, in addition to the will to transform Commerzbank’s corporate customers, he also expects credible progress in reducing CO2. “We stand by our customers and accompany them in their own sustainable transformation. If the will to transform is not recognizable, then we will also consider severing the customer relationship.”
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