Swedish Glace call themselves the ‘dairy-free tastemakers and ice cream game-changers’, who ‘care as much about our planet as we do our moreish plant-based ice creams’. And I hate to be the bearer of bad news but this statement is only 50% true. This plant based ice-cream is certainly delicious and is of course more environmentally friendly than its dairy-based cousin, however, Swedish Glace does not appear to care about the planet quite as much in reality as it says it does on its website.
Having been around since 1990, the Swedish Glace vanilla ice-cream is kosher, dairy-free, vegan, lactose-free and gluten-free, making the products safe for all to enjoy. Consumer reviews support the brand and suggest that the Swedish Glace Vanilla is one of the top vegan ice-creams on the market. I am inclined to agree that this ice-cream is delicious, especially the vanilla flavour in a little thing called a Biscoff milkshake! Also, Swedish Glace is also one of the better value vegan ice-creams, costing on average £2.50 ($3.31) for a 750ml tub. Unfortunately, no level of tastiness can make-up for what is a clear failing when it comes to transparency and principles of sustainability for Swedish Glace.
Now, when it comes to their packaging, Swedish Glace is indeed going for it with their environmental mass balance approach, which aims to promote the use of recycled and recyclable materials. Sadly, as we shall find out, this appears to be the only major environmental accomplishment of the brand and the fact that they are so intently focused on advertising this ‘win’ does give off a slight whiff of...greenwashing!
It is important to say that Swedish Glace exists under the larger umbrella of Unilever, an enterprise with very comprehensive and ambitious environmental and social goals. However, in my opinion Swedish Glace is hiding under said proverbial umbrella and using it as a decoy for its own personal laziness.
I chose to review this product because it is one that I personally buy, and upon a first glance, it appeared that there would be a lot of information to look into. However, in the end this review will be fairly brief, based on the well-disguised and gaping void of data. Personally, despite the few positives, I feel this represents laziness and inaction on the part of Swedish Glace. The fact that the brand website promotes a token ‘sustainability’ section, consisting purely of information about their packaging, adds insult to this injury.
So, please go forth and search through the rest of the Voiz reviews for a more sustainable plant based ice-cream. I certainly will be doing just that so I can continue my romance with the one and only, Biscoff milkshake.
The Swedish Glace Vanilla ingredients are as follows: “water, sugar, glucose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, coconut fat, dextrose, SOY powder (2%), stabilisers (locust bean gum, guar gum, carrageenan), flavouring, emulsifier (mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids), salt, exhausted vanilla bean pieces, colour (carotenes)”. The ingredients contain no artificial colours or flavours. Aside from this, there is zero information on where any of these items are sourced from or on the emissions they incur.
Under the banner of Unilever, Swedish Glace has pledged to using zero deforestation ingredients by 2030 (e.g., soy), which frankly is not the most ambitious of goals, and again is not one set by Swedish Glace itself.
One positive thing that can be extracted is that plant-based ice-cream is more environmentally-friendly than its dairy-based counterpart. The global warming potential (GWP) of dairy-based ice-cream has scientifically been estimated at 4kg CO2 eq./kg, whereas the impact of dairy-free ice-cream is estimated to be 40% lower than this. Obviously, plant-based ice-creams do not involve the methane-belching, amazon-destroying-soy-eating things which are known as cows.
Nutritionally, the product is lower in calories and fat than the average dairy-based vanilla ice-cream. The figures for plant-based versus dairy-based ice-cream per 100ml respectively are; 92kcal - 109kcal, 3.1g - 6g. The sugar content is similar, however.
Now, when it comes to their packaging, Swedish Glace is indeed going for it! They promote a mass balance method which is an important approach to help industries move away from using virgin materials to using recycled and recyclable materials. This approach uses the new advanced recycling technology of recycling polypropylene plastic (rPP). From the extent of the information on the Swedish Glace website, it appears that the brand really cares about this issue and is proud of the lengths they have gone to achieve this. However, this appears to be the only major sustainable accomplishment and concern of the product, aside from the fact it is a plant-based ice-cream which is of course a major pro-environmental feature! Indeed, the ‘sustainability’ section on the website is entirely devoted to these plastic tubs. The fact that the brand seems to be focused so intently on their packaging at the expense of all other elements of sustainability does present a negative contradiction and even is an example of greenwashing.
Again there is zero information on the production of the ice-cream or the sustainability of this process.
However, on the packaging front, there is a wealth of information as aforementioned. The company say that they are ‘always looking’ for ways to reduce the environmental impact of the ice cream packaging. The ice-cream tubs have been fully recyclable for sometime, however, the tubs are now all made out of recycled plastic, which itself is also fully recyclable. This packaging utilises recycling polypropylene plastic (rPP), which is a new recycling technology, and Swedish Glace is the first UK-based dairy-free ice-cream brand to use this novel premium food-grade advanced recycling technology. Even better, by using recycled plastic tubs, approximately 130 tonnes of virgin plastic will be saved - a weight equal to the weight of an average Blue Whale.
In terms of transport, Unilever pledges to reduce their GHG emissions from logistics and distribution by 40-50% by 2030. Again, this goal is fairly weak and it hasn't been directly pledged by Swedish Glace itself. However, on a more positive note, Swedish Glace is a UK based brand and it appears to only distribute ice-cream within the UK. This, in theory, should operate to keep transport emissions fairly low. However, as there is no information on the subject, this is purely speculation.
As mentioned above, Swedish Glace is a Unilever Brand. Under the larger umbrella of Unilever, this enterprise has a lot of positive environmental and social goals. In Unilever’s Climate Transition Action Plan, they pledge to reach net zero emissions in Unilever’s own operations by 2030 and net zero emissions across the Unilever value chain by 2039. Unilever is also aiming to reduce the climate footprint of their products by 50% in 2030. Unilever has made some progress to achieving these goals. For example, they achieved 100% renewable electricity in their operations in January 2020. However, while Unilever has some very comprehensive and ambitious environmental and social goals, it is very unclear how this translates at the level of Swedish Glace at all.
And again, my apologies, but there was really not a lot of information to review here.