The brands collaborating to change the world

Often when businesses collaborate, it’s clear that the commercial benefits are the driving force behind the decision. But what about those that are collaborating to make a difference to the world? Here’s a few examples of businesses collaborating for social good…

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The Plant PET Technology Collaborative

In June 2012, Coca-Cola, Ford, Heinz, Nike and Procter & Gamble announced that they were working together as the Plant PET Technology Collaborative to focus on accelerating to the development and use of 100% plant-based plastic in their products.

The collaborative came about following Coca-Cola’s success with the PlantBottle, which is partially made from plants and demonstrated a lower environmental impact compared to traditional plastic bottles.The collaborative was formed to support new technologies in an effort to evolve that plastic to a solution made entirely from plants.  

It’s already seen some success: they have created 100 per cent plant-based bottles. They’re not ready for mainstream use just yet but Michael Okoroafor, vice president of global packaging innovation and execution for Heinz, said that they are convinced that by 2018 the bottles will be commercially viable.

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Speaking at the Packaging Conference in 2014, he noted that the key to successful collaboration is an alignment of interests. “If it’s not in both organisations’ best interests to succeed, it likely will not succeed,” he said.

He added that the fact that none of the current members of the Collaborative compete in the same markets has been critical as it allows them to share sensitive information without the fear of damaging their own brands.

Virgin Active: Active Inspiration

Active Inspiration is a collaborative campaign that seeks to give young people access to activeness so that they can make active lifestyle choices. Working with the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation, Youth Sport Trust and Enabling Enterprise, Virgin Active is tackling the rising levels of youth inactivity.

They’ve worked to change young girls’ attitudes to sport though their joint campaign with the Women’s Sports and Fitness Foundation, AttrActive, which was an experiment in Sheffield to rethink activeness amongst teenage girls. With their Active Crew programme they’ve challenged primary school students to get involved in sport through free sessions with the Youth Sport Trust. In partnership with Enabling Enterprise, Virgin Active is supporting the development of enterprise and employability skills through active minds by developing a programme for primary and secondary schools focused on taking activeness beyond just PE lessons.

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“We are delighted to be a part of the Active Inspiration campaign,” Ruth Holdaway, CEO of Women Sport and Fitness Foundation, said. “It is our missions to transform sport for the benefit of every woman and girl in the UK.”

Already, the campaign has seen success in more girls wanting to be active after a simple redesign of a PE kit.

NASA and LEGO

NASA and LEGO teamed up to educate children about space and inspire the next generation of astronauts. NASA developed lesson plans that would make space education more interesting for students, through using Lego to get students thinking about engineering.

Lego also released four kits based on NASA spacecraft and missions to inspire children to think about the building of the spacecrafts before they go into space.

NASA launched nine specialised kits to the International Space Station, where astronauts built them to explore the effects of microgravity on simple machinery by carrying out experiments and sharing the results with students and teachers back on Earth.

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Each of the activities also had a teacher’s guide and student worksheets so the same activities could be completed on Earth and the results compared and contrasted.

“Education is a big part of what we do at NASA,” Ron Garan, a station flight engineer said. “We have lots of different methods to do education outreach, [Lego is] one of them.”

These are just a few example of brands teaming up to make a positive difference to the world – there are plenty of others out there, working to be more environmentally friendly, bring communities together, improve employability, educate, and draw attention to other social purposes. 

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