Progress Report 2023
The program area contributes to: Increased biodiversity in nature and on the plate.
Increased use of agroecological farming methods and sustainable animal husbandry. Increased sustainability in the production of blue food.
Reduced use of antibiotics for food-producing animals.
Efficient and circular use of resources.
• Infrastructure developed for underutilized fish species and products from minced bream launched to food service and grocery sector.
• An early variant of a perennial relative of annual wheat is developed at Torsåker Farm.
The program area contributes to: Increased resource efficiency.
Economic growth decoupled from increased use of resources.
Sustainable Production and Consumption
The program area contributes to:
Better working and living conditions along global supply chains.
Reduced climate and environmental impact from the use of resources.
Circular business models and efficient circular use of resources.
Use of renewable, recyclable and circular resources.
• Developed a practical methodology and a pilot for a digital tool to enable unified ways of measuring plastics.
Increased climate leadership at the supplier level.
Increased supply chain and product transparency and traceability.
Business models that spear toward sustainable consumption. Responsible buying practices.
• Developed a successful formula for publicprivate partnership in Pakistan where 2,500 farmers and workers were trained in sustainable rice cultivation.
p.26 p.18 p.32 p.68 p.62 p.66
• Increased use of Swedish wool among partners in the Swedish Wool Initiative by over 13x.
• Bringing together Sweden’s key actors in the grocery trade exploring a joint circular system for reuse of delivery bags or packages.
• Launched the Climate Education Tool to reduce emissions in Scope 3.
• Contributing to a smooth transition and a global standard for digital product passports through ProPare – Product Passport Resolver.
New business models
Running close to
Private sector where we accelerate and innovate solutions
New ways of working Innovative raw materials, products, services and processes
work at Axfoundation’s office in Stockholm and at Torsåker Farm
This is Axfoundation
Axfoundation works practically and concretely toward building a sustainable society. We see our organization as more of a “do tank” than a think tank. Believing strongly in business as a driving force for change, we often initiate and run projects together with the private sector. Together we tackle local and global sustainability challenges based on practical issues related to the things we buy, the food we eat, and the resources we use.
Axfoundation accelerates and innovates solutions within three program areas: Future Food, Circular Economy and Sustainable Production and Consumption.
Axfoundation was founded in 1993 by Antonia Ax:son Johnson and is a standalone, non-profit organization.
Current projects stretch across
such as textile, waste, fishing, retail, food, technology, recycling and agriculture
Believing strongly in business as a driving force for change
Our local, national and global projects engage and reach sustainability professionals, entrepreneurs, supply managers, factory workers, suppliers, primary producers, policymakers, executives and many others
Axfoundation works together with over 70 researchers to find solutions to complex business problems and ensure our ventures and results are research-based
Axfoundation acts as a bridge
Accelerators & incubators
Platforms as catalysts
Axfoundation collaborates across sectors with more than
175 Companies, 34 Accelerators & Foundations, 25 Industry Associations, 21 Academia, 19 Governmental Institutions, 15 Civil Society Organizations, 6 Networks, 4 Unions
� Introduction: The Future of Food
� Perennial Grains
� Conservation Agriculture
� Underutilized Fish Species
� Five Tons of Green Fish
� Antibiotics: Friend or Foe?
� Snapshot: Minced Legumes - From Pea to Product
� Introduction: Going Circular
� The Swedish Wool Initiative
� Returnable: A Road Map from Singular to Circular use of Grocery Bags
� Over & Oat
� Plastics Progress Tools
� Snapshot: Delegation for Circular Economy
� Introduction: Staying within the Planetary Boundaries
� Climate Education Tool
� ProPare: Product Passport Resolver
� Sustainable Rice Production in Pakistan
� Ethical Trading Initiative Sweden 76
Founders for Generations to ComePhoto: Peter Jönsson
Over the last 30 years, what started with the idea of “the good company” has evolved into a “do tank” aiming to connect actors with Big Hairy Courageous Goals. Meet entrepreneurs Antonia Ax:son Johnson, founder of Axfoundation, and her daughter Alexandra Mörner, Chairman of the Board, in an in-depth conversation on Axfoundation’s raison d’être.
Let’s go back to the start: What prompted you to establish Axfoundation?
Antonia: The story begins in the 80s, when I took over the Axel Johnson family business from my father. Our business was investing largely in retail at the time, and the goods we sold went to the homes of approximately one and a half million customers every day.
With such a presence in people’s everyday lives, it dawned on me that we have a different kind of responsibility for the kind of goods we sell. This is when I started to talk about “the good company” a company that takes responsibility. Not just for its customers, suppliers and employees, but also for the community and place where it operates.
Around the same time, the environment became a hot topic. However, the environment was widely considered to be something that the authorities, state, or someone else should care for certainly not businesses.
Before the first UN global conference on sustainable development in Rio, I was invited to meet with the international business community and formulate what they wanted to contribute. Forty global business leaders from large international companies stared at each other and said; “What can we do for the environment? Isn’t this someone else’s responsibility?” That is when I decided to get to work.
When I talked about the environment with our CEOs, they looked at me like I was crazy. “Should we be responsible for what we sell? We sell what the customer wants with the goal to make as much profit as possible.” At this time, concepts such as corporate social responsibility were not widely discussed and not many people listened or understood the potential impact.
We were headed into the last decade of the 20th century and there I was, my whole mind concerned with environmental issues and how we could influence the communities where we operated in a positive way. This is when Axel Johnson’s sustainability journey began and the idea for Axfoundation was born.
It is 2006, by which time we understood the power of Axfoundation. An independent non-profit organization with an initial focus to shed light on sustainability challenges and conducting research into causes and potential solutions. As the Chairman, you felt the need to move in a different direction: How come?
Alexandra: There were, and still are, many exceptional foundations funding research. Around that time we became interested in finding another way of working for Axfoundation. We wanted to shift our focus to identifying practical solutions for sustainability challenges, ones which sparked our curiosity and that we knew we had the potential to solve. We wanted to work hands-on and make use of our strengths as entrepreneurs.
As an example one of the first cases we decided to look into was; “How and why is organic cotton better than regular cotton?” The investigation took us along the entire value chain; from the cultivation methods of raw materials to the finished products.
We focused on findings that could shape future purchasing and production. This indepth approach is the same way we work today.
We saw the benefit of working in parallel with the family business, testing and rolling out practical solutions while remaining independent to freely work across industries.
What do you think is the strength of Axfoundation as it operates today?
Antonia: We have been very loyal to the thoughts and ideas from 2006. The urgency to act, our drive to change the world, and to do things in a different way. That vision has only gotten bigger and stronger over the years. More doing, less talking.
We have found that our role is between research and practice between thoughts and dreams, analysis and reality.
This is why Torsåker Farm, our test and development center, is so important. Here you get to step out on a newly harvested field, perhaps one where the experimental perennial wheatgrass developed for mid- and northern European conditions is growing. We see how sweet lupins, the Nordic soy, flourish or don’t flourish. We test what works and what doesn’t both in the field and in the test kitchens. We collaborate with researchers and practitioners and experiment together.
Alexandra: Our team at Axfoundation consists of generalists and specialists, all sharing an entrepreneurial approach. Pooling our collective and diverse strengths is what makes us strong. Our drive to create positive change, to find new paths and common goals unite us.
We believe in business as a force for change and in the importance of collaboration. Today, we have a powerful network of actors across all sectors and several industries. Our partners understand how we work and what we can contribute and vice versa.
It has taken a while to get to this point.
What will the scenario look like in 30 years time?
Alexandra: I strongly believe in the power of best-case practice and innovative pilots. To show that it can be done. I like to work methodically, something we’ve always done. Step by step, close to the ground. We know that it works and delivers results. Over the next 30 years, I would like our “do tank” and our way of working to spread. Maybe having further strengthened our network by establishing Axfoundation hubs across the world.
I would also like to see greater practical collaboration between researchers and entrepreneurs, investors and businesses working side by side toward a common goal. There are already many initiatives today, but we need more, and we need them now.
With your long-term perspective, what message do you want to give future generations working on the transformation to a more sustainable world?
Antonia: I am extremely frustrated. The sustainable transition is far too slow. One of my most profound concerns is how quickly biodiversity is disappearing; how many species of insects, mammals and plants are going extinct before we collectively implement concrete measures that are significant enough to halt it? That’s why what we do and will continue to do within biodiversity is incredibly important.
One of the biggest challenges is helping people understand the consequences of their everyday lives and that we have to be smarter about the planet’s finite resources.
Nature needs us to understand the extremely delicate balance of our planet. Many believe that what they do doesn’t matter, but it does. Change has to happen at every scale.
It is so difficult to change behavior, but we have reached a point where we urgently need to change our ways of living and consuming. I believe that an organization like Axfoundation can help make an important difference.
We need people with big hairy courageous goals to tackle the huge and complex questions involved in a sustainable transition. These people also need some place to connect. Hopefully, Axfoundation can serve as a practical “do tank” to unite actors across sectors and provide power and strength to work toward a common goal.Photo: Peter Jönsson
Getting Things Done
With less than 30 years to 2050, Axfoundation’s mission to innovate and accelerate solutions for a sustainable world is more relevant than ever. Commitments made by governments to date fall far short of what is required. All actors in society need to act – countries, companies, communities and citizens – to quickly transform and reinvent ourselves.
We believe that entrepreneurship and innovation are enablers of change. We are convinced that companies of all sizes have important roles to play in contributing to the sustainable development of society. Axfoundation uses business as an accelerator of long-term transformative change, and our freedom to collaborate with whomever we wish is an important part of our way of working. Our collaboration with 70 researchers as well as 175 companies from 15 different industries is proof of this.
We also believe in sharing not only our successes but also our mistakes. As an organization focusing on new solutions and innovation, trial and error is in our DNA. With an entrepreneurial mindset, failing is bound to happen at some point. But as you learn from it, mistakes will lead to success.
By contributing with time, sustainability competencies and entrepreneurial project management skills, Axfoundation develops concrete sustainable solutions. The starting point is always a practical sustainability challenge. We put a lot of effort into understanding and nailing the actual problem to solve. All with the aim of developing solutions that will work in practice - solutions that can be scaled and take us toward a more sustainable development.
What happens in 2050?
By 2050, in accordance with the Paris Agreement, emissions of greenhouse gases need to reach net zero and according to the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the world must be transformed into a place where more than 9 billion people live well in a society within the planetary boundaries.
We are confident that broad collaborations between relevant actors in society can solve complex problems. Our position as a stand-alone, non-profit actor with strong networks in all sectors enables us to form a bridge between parties who would likely not otherwise cooperate.
Axfoundation’s work is always knowledgebased. Collaboration with researchers and experts is central to providing us with the expertise needed in our different projects. Wider frameworks, such as the planetary boundaries and the global sustainable development goals, are always starting points for our work.
With one eye focused on making a concrete difference for sustainable development today, and the other eye on 2050, our team at Axfoundation is driving some 30 projects together with over 300 partners. Together we aim to act to inspire and inspire to act.
With this Progress Report we hope to show, that even though there are challenges ahead, there are solutions. Together we can achieve the necessary transition.Maria Smith Secretary-General, Axfoundation
This is how we do it
Working at the forefront of innovation, out of a large number of ideas, a handful make it to the project phase and only a few succeed to scale-up. After each
step, Axfoundation evaluates whether to continue or not, and shares findings as well as lessons learned along the way.
2. Situational analysis
3. Develop and test the solution
1. Identify the challenge
The starting point is a concrete local or global sustainability challenge.
6. Summarize the solution and lessons learned
The project is evaluated, lessons learned gathered and effects analyzed often leading to new ideas.
Axfoundation joins forces with a wide range of actors to investigate and ideate possible practical solutions, always based on the latest research.
Axfoundation works iteratively, result-oriented and practically to develop and test the solution on a smaller scale, often in pilot projects with partners along the entire value chain.
5. Scale up and spread
With the goal of achieving a transformative system change, the solution can now be scaled into a cross-sector, industry-wide collaboration with more companies, researchers, practitioners, CSOs and public bodies on board.
Our curiosity makes us ask questions
How come Sweden imports over 1,700 tonnes of wool, while less than half of all the wool produced by Swedish farmers is utilized? And what can be done about it? p.46
Why is farmed fish often fed with food suitable for human consumption, such as wild-caught fish and soy? And can it be done differently? p.32
How can we make it easier for companies to provide reliable sustainability data on all their products in real-time? p.66
Our concern makes us act
4. Follow up and evaluate The results and effects so far are processed. How and with whom could the solution be spread and scaled up?
There are many sustainability challenges out there. To make sure we focus on the right ones, research-based wider frameworks are always the starting points for our practical and solution-oriented work.
The planetary boundaries define the environmental limits within which humanity can safely operate. They help guide us by marking out which major existential challenges that countries, companies, communities and citizens must address and act upon.
The global sustainable development goals adopted by the United Nations are a universal call to action. The goals are to be achieved by 2030 and are a crucial point of departure for Axfoundation.
Axfoundation’s test and development center for sustainable food systems
Located some 30 kilometers north of Stockholm in Sweden, Torsåker Farm is a catalyst that contributes to the development of sustainable food production, innovation and knowledge sharing. For the sake of the climate, the environment and public health.
Here at Torsåker Farm, actors across sectors and industries come together to take on complex challenges in real-world conditions. In the fields, test kitchens and around the table, producers, researchers, food processors, chefs, entrepreneurs, representatives of municipal bodies and industry associations connect to explore solutions impossible to test alone. Industries overlap and act in the intersection of research and practice. The only competitor is the unsustainable production and consumption.
The environment at the test farm is ideal to evaluate sustainable farming methods, test grow both new and old crops, identify waste streams for circular solutions and take the results straight from the fields and the lake to processing in the test kitchens. This enables Axfoundation and partners to test new ideas and remove infrastructural obstacles before the solution is scaled up.
We hope that Torsåker Farm will be a catalyst that contributes to the development of future food through knowledge transfer and sustainable innovations in everything from primary production to consumption.Madeleine Linins Mörner, Program Director, Future Food, Axfoundation
Explore the Farm
In the fields
The surrounding test fields and woodlands provide the opportunity to practically test methods, techniques and crops that contribute to a sustainable transformation of agriculture. Together with farmers and researchers, cultivation methods are scientifically analyzed to see if they contribute to increased carbon storage and improved soil fertility. Here, Axfoundation also contributes to developing perennial cereals for cultivation in mid- and northern European climate, including a perennial relative of annual wheat and barley, together with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU).
In the experimental garden
Axfoundation operates an experimental garden at Torsåker Farm, perfect for open-field cultivation. Different kinds of sustainable fertilizers and horticulture methods are experimented with, and vegetables are evaluated for their gastronomical potential and their ability to thrive in a changing climate varieties that used to be grown in Sweden, but which have disappeared.
In the water
To contribute to a blue protein shift, Axfoundation evaluates aquaculture methods and runs several seafood projects together with researchers, fishermen and fish farmers. The results from these seafood projects are later evaluated by chefs and entrepreneurs, with the aim of developing attractive, sustainable and nutritious seafood products that suit people’s everyday lives. A perfect example of such a product is the minced bream made from bycatch from Swedish lakes.
In the test kitchens
Built in the 18th century, the newly renovated barn, “Ladugården”, contains four test kitchens, a restaurant kitchen, a bakery and packaging facilities. This is Axfoundation’s innovation arena providing practical support for researchers and entrepreneurs. The goal of its operations is to sow the seeds for the sustainable, nutritious and tasty foods of the future and make it possible to evaluate solutions in practice before they are scaled up.
Inside the facilities
Complex challenges are better solved in collaboration with others. The meeting facilities at Torsåker Farm provide a place for the project groups to work and arrange workshops and seminars.
We often pick up interesting ideas and develop them further with scientists and entrepreneurs. Our ambition is to accelerate sustainable food innovation.Photo: Peter Jönsson Anna Henning Moberg, Manager for Project Development and Test Kitchen Operations at Torsåker Farm
Developing solutions for future sustainable food systems.
The program area contributes to:
Increased biodiversity in nature and on the plate.
Increased use of agroecological farming methods and sustainable animal husbandry.
Increased sustainability in the production of blue food.
Reduced use of antibiotics for foodproducing animals.
Efficient and circular use of resources.Photo: Linda Prieditis
We want to help accelerate the transition to sustainable food systems, for the sake of the climate, the environment and public health.Madeleine Linins Mörner, Program Director Future Food, Axfoundation
The Future of Food
How to feed the Earth’s growing population sustainably
The global food sector accounts for close to a third of global greenhouse gas emissions, is responsible for 75-80% of the loss of biodiversity and uses 70% of the planet’s fresh water. Still, as much as a third of what is produced within the food sector goes to waste. This absurd equation and waste of resources cannot be solved either by one single actor or by working in isolation addressing one issue at the time. Instead, there is an urgent need for unexpected collaboration and practical solutions.
Axfoundation explores practical solutions to contribute to sustainable food systems of the future, together with producers, researchers, municipalities, industry associations, food processors, chefs, entrepreneurs and consumers.
Sustainable agricultural methods
Of all the challenges humanity faces, food, climate and the alarming decline of biodiversity are the most urgent ones. Considering that agricultural land makes up almost 40% of the world’s surface, within the next few years, there must be a shift to more sustainable agricultural methods to ensure reduced climate and environmental impact.
Through the program area Future Food, Axfoundation aims to convert agriculture to more sustainable cultivation and breeding methods and contribute to increased biodiversity and profitability for the farmer.
A revolution in terms of how food is produced must take place both below and above ground, as well as beneath the surface. But given that fishery resources, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), continue to decline due to overfishing, pollution and poor management, there is a need to find new solutions.
For one, the share of landed seafood that actually reaches consumers as food must increase significantly. Today, far too much is wasted between water and plate, and large quantities of perfectly edible seafood are turned into animal feed. Another possible pathway is to land and eat more of the underutilized fish species and types of seafood available, which would ensure a more holistic fishery and a more resilient aquaculture.
Such transition calls for circular commercial aquaculture methods, functioning infrastructures such as processing and production facilities close to landing areas, the courage to increase the diversity of seafood, and not least new interesting products with species not commonly eaten.
Sustainable use of resources
What is produced must also be eaten, but today about one third of all the food bought in stores is thrown away. Less well-known is that 30-40% of total food production is lost earlier in the value chain, before it even reaches the market, according to FAO.
Not all food waste can be completely eliminated, but there are strategies to make use of much more and avoid both financial loss and unnecessary environmental and climate impact. One effective way to do this is to have residual streams from food production recirculated into the system. Primarily as new foods or secondarily as feed to make use of an unnecessarily wasted by-product and provide a circular infrastructure.
From pilot to large scale, Axfoundation innovates and accelerates solutions for a more circular and resource-efficient food system, enabling more sustainable use of resources.
Everyone needs to eat every day. There is currently no other solution to the human digestive system. Therefore, improving people’s eating habits has a great effect both on the climate and on public health.
In a couple of decades, there is an estimated 10 billion people on earth. To be able to produce healthy food for everyone and stay within the planetary boundaries, the food systems need to be re-engineered. The meals of the future must also contribute to counteracting all the lifestyle diseases that are increasing both in Sweden and globally.
Today, an average Swedish meal generates 1.8 kg of CO2e, while a sustainable meal should give rise to 0.5 kg or less. Naturally, it also needs to provide us with sufficient nutrition, and above all, for most people, it needs to taste good. However, changing people’s habits is anything but simple.
Axfoundation is collaborating to contribute to develop sustainable, healthy and tasty ingredients, products and meals affordable for everyone to enjoy.
An agricultural revolution
Most of the problems that farming is struggling with – large emissions of greenhouse gases, soil erosion and overuse of chemicals – could be solved if perennial grains were grown instead of annuals. To contribute to this shift, Axfoundation is collaborating with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) in their ground-breaking research at Torsåker Farm, where perennial relatives of wheat and barley are used in the breeding of perennial grains.
• The fields at Torsåker Farm host the world’s most diverse collection of intermediate wheatgrass plants a perennial relative of wheat. Also, bulbous barley is cultivated for breeding of the world’s first perennial barley crop.
• Test plots with the perennial relative of wheat have been harvested using an ordinary combine. Axfoundation is now investigating the possibility of scaling up to enable the production of this intermediate wheatgrass as a seed for Swedish farmers.
• In collaboration with chefs and bakers, the commercial potential is investigated.
Reduced need for agricultural inputs The
Crops have been improved through breeding for hundreds of years with such a strong focus on high yields that they have lost properties that now are important for adapting to climate change. This makes the food systems of the future vulnerable.
All cereal grains grown today in temperate climates are annual. This means that they are planted and harvested all in one year, and this is repeated the next year. In an annual cropping system the farmers plow the soil regularly which can lead to nutrient losses, erosion, decreased soil quality and release of greenhouse gases.
Interestingly, perennial crops, with the ability to grow year after year without replanting, could make a valuable addition to sustainable agriculture. Among the core benefits is their ability to use the full long growing season for carbon uptake for photosynthesis and growth, and the storage of carbon in roots and soil, which may result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation of climate change.
Presently, due to their early stages of breeding and current low yields, grain crops that are perennial are not grown at a large scale. Some plant breeding programs are taking place to address these issues, and Torsåker Farm is today one of the unique sites where perennial grains are developed for the future.
Torsåker Farm has been established as a longterm field site for perennial grains, with both intermediate wheatgrass and bulbous barley grown in different trials and test plots. The goal is to improve their agronomic traits, enhance the yield and adapt the plants to thrive in the northern and mid-European climates.
Developing new crops takes years. A large genetic variation of plants with different geographical origins are evaluated and the best plants are selected and crossed over several plant generations. Being able to study plants at a location over an extended period is essential, and the groundbreaking research at Torsåker Farm has proven successful.
Between 2018 and 2019, the number of intermediate wheatgrass plants planted at Torsåker Farm ten-folded from 3,000 to 30,000. In 2020, based on extensive data from the plants established in 2018, the first selection of the best parent plants of intermediate wheatgrass was made. The plants were cloned and planted out in trials at three separate locations at Torsåker Farm for further evaluation and seed production.
In the fall of 2021 and 2022, an early variant of this perennial relative of wheat was harvested on half a hectare of land. This was an important step which showed that it is possible to thresh the intermediate wheatgrass with a standard combine harvester, currently used in grain cultivation.
Part of Axfoundation’s contribution is to identify the commercial potential for the crop in collaboration with chefs and bakers. During an event in 2022, pizzas baked with flour from the perennial relative of wheat were served at Torsåker Farm to satisfied guests.
Torsåker Farm is also the first place in the world where bulbous barley is domesticated and bred into a perennial barley crop. By applying the domestication strategy - that is, repeated selection and crossing of plants with the most desirable traits within a perennial species - harvest yield and quality is being improved along with typical domestication traits such as resistance to seed shattering and uniform ripening.
“At Torsåker Farm, a perennial relative of wheat is adapted to withstand frost, survive a cold climate and give a good harvest for many years under our climatic conditions. The project is looking for plants that will flower and produce mature seeds during the short growing season in Sweden with its exceptionally long days.
To support the shift to perennial crops, Axfoundation collaborates with the SLU, The Land Institute and Wasabröd (Swedish crispbread producer). The research on
Meet our partners
genomic selection is partially financed by Wasabröd with the ambition to speed up the plant breeding of perennial wheat.
Anna Westerbergh, Associate Professor of Genetics and Plant Breeding at SLU in Uppsala, is the project leader of the perennial grain crop domestication and breeding at Torsåker Farm.
What impact could the cultivation of a perennial grain crop have on the agricultural industry as a whole?
Perennial grains will have many benefits for agriculture management and food security. In relation to climate change, perennial crops need less inputs and are more resilient to stresses. We are developing completely novel types of crops that are perennial and can produce human-edible grains.
What is the value of Torsåker Farm for you as a researcher? Here we can conduct the long-term field studies necessary for domestication and breeding of perennial grain crops. I get energy from collaborating and working together toward a common goal – a sustainable agriculture and society. I am convinced that through good cooperation we will reach the goal much faster and in a much more joyous way!
Kernza® perennial grain
The initial work on perennial wheat was conducted by plant breeders at the Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania, USA, after which researchers at The Land Institute in Kansas, USA further developed a perennial grain, the so-called Kernza® perennial grain. The team at Torsåker Farm uses genetic material from these unique plant-breeding programs, as well as from the University of Manitoba, Canada.
To date, the cultivation program at Torsåker Farm is the only one outside North America, based on genetic diversity from all three breeding programs and carried out during different climate conditions. The goal is to adapt the perennial relative of wheat so that it survives under mid- and northern European conditions.
At Torsåker Farm, Axfoundation supports the holistic domestication and regional adaptation of perennial grains, like Kernza® and perennial barley, for Nordic farms and dinner tables. In this partnership, early-stage research and development come together with supply chain and culinary innovation to amplify the delicious promise of a new agricultural future featuring perennial grains.
The perennial grain intermediate wheatgrass
From idea to harvest at Torsåker Farm
� Axfoundation visits The Land Institute in Kansas, USA, and an idea of perennial wheat suited to the Nordic climate begins to sprout.
� The research project on intermediate wheatgrass at Torsåker Farm is initiated together with Anna Westerbergh at SLU, and tenant farmer Mats Eriksson at Sättra Farm.
� Planting of 3,000 seedlings of intermediate wheatgrass to study important traits.
� An additional 30,000 seedlings of intermediate wheatgrass are planted to study yield and intercropping with perennial legumes.
� Plants performing particularly well under Swedish conditions are cloned and planted for further evaluation and selection at Torsåker Farm.
� With the support from Axfoundation, The Land Institute wins the Food Planet Prize for its work for sustainable agriculture. The prize money contributes to starting The Land Institute International Initiative, a global collaboration for the development of perennial crops, where Sweden is an important hub.
� The first threshing of intermediate wheatgrass at Torsåker Farm using a standard combine.
� Results and overview of the perennial grain breeding are presented at the UN Food System Summit by the researcher and project leader Anna Westerbergh, SLU.
� The Land Institute visits Torsåker Farm to see how the experiments develop under Swedish conditions.
� Pizzas baked with flour from intermediate wheatgrass are served at an event at Torsåker Farm.
� Two early varieties of this perennial relative of annual wheat are sown with a regular row drilling machine in an open field test plot.
� The next generation of 1,700 seedlings from selected parents is planted.
� Wasabröd joins as a financing partner for the research on genomic selection, a new method for efficient breeding.
� The commercial potential of intermediate wheatgrass is investigated. 2023
Care for our soils
Farming is a significant contributor to climate change but has the potential to become a carbon sink rather than a carbon emitter. Together with researchers and farmers at Torsåker Farm, Axfoundation is evaluating new technologies and experimenting with innovative cultivation methods to contribute to improved soil health and increased carbon sequestration in agricultural land.
• A light version of Conservation Agriculture, used in the fields at and around Torsåker Farm, has proven successful in generating a similar harvest to traditional farming methods, but with less soil disturbance.
• Axfoundation is a partner of Swedish Carbon Sequestration (Svensk Kolinlagring), working with hands-on solutions in their programs to increase carbon sequestration in Swedish agricultural soils.
• Led by Svenskt Sigill and in collaboration with concerned actors, Axfoundation contributed to developing a definition of the term Regenerative Agriculture suitable for Nordic conditions.
The world grows 95% of its food in the uppermost layer of soil, making topsoil one of the most critical components of the food systems. Even though topsoil is a vital resource on the planet, it is also a finite one. A resource that is currently depleted, built on, polluted and at risk of being lost through erosion. This not only means significantly impaired production capacity, but it also causes large losses of biological diversity among plants, fungi and animals. There is an urgent need to care for the soil that feeds us.
More and more researchers are therefore pointing to the need to implement more sustainable farming methods in order to rectify the climate and environmental problems. Conservation Agriculture is one such solution, combining different sustainable farming methods that promote minimum soil disturbance, maintenance of a permanent soil cover and diversification of plant species.
Farming also needs to go from being a contributor to a sequester of carbon. More carbon in the soil reduces carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere and contributes to healthier soils more resilient to climate change effects, such as droughts and floods. Axfoundation’s ambition is to increase the level of knowledge and assist Swedish farmers to adapt to more sustainable farming methods, without risking the loss of crop yields or profits.
At Torsåker Farm, Axfoundation gathers Swedish and international expertise, both researchers and farmers, to evaluate techniques and cultivation methods with the aim of increasing the soil content and carbon storage in agricultural soils.
Axfoundation is a development partner to Swedish Carbon Sequestration (Svensk Kolinlagring), a platform connecting different actors to enable increased carbon sequestration with added value in Swedish agriculture. As a partner, Axfoundation gets the chance to make a concrete contribution so that different methods for carbon storage
in the soil can be tested in practice and that the measurement methods are evaluated scientifically.
One method currently evaluated is the Sättra Method, a light version of Conservation Agriculture carried out by farmer Mats Eriksson. The practical implementation of the method has proven successful in generating a similar harvest to traditional farming methods, but with less soil disturbance. Axfoundation is now examining further if this method can be improved with a combination of different intermediate crops to enhance results.
Far from all projects turn out as we first expected. Learn more about this in the section “Courage to Fail.” p.82
When approaches such as Conservation Agriculture or Regenerative Agriculture become popular, there is always a risk that the term becomes a buzz-word and is used in the wrong way. To avoid this, Axfoundation joined in when Svenskt Sigill developed a definition for the term Regenerative Agriculture for Nordic conditions. The definition was launched in 2022 and will be followed up with practical guidelines on how to implement the practices.
Within Conservation Agriculture, Axfoundation collaborates with among others the Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies (HUSEC), the Swedish Agricultural Cooperative Lantmännen, the Swedish Carbon Sequestration Svensk Kolinlagring, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), the eco-label Svenskt Sigill, Sättra Farm and Örebro University.
Carbon sequestration is the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide and a method to reduce global climate change. Carbon dioxide can, for example, be absorbed from the atmosphere through the plant’s photosynthesis and the carbon from plant material is transformed to more stable carbon compounds in the ground.
Biological carbon sequestration in agriculture is achieved through improved or modified farming practices, such as varied crop rotations and crop selection. More carbon in the ground is not only reducing carbon dioxide emissions, but it also comes with other benefits such as healthier soils, increased biodiversity and less nutrient run-off. A collective term for these types of more sustainable cultivation techniques is Conservation Agriculture.
Conservation Agriculture is a combination of different sustainable farming methods that promote maintenance of a permanent soil cover, minimum soil disturbance and diversification of plant species. Methods the farmer can use include:
• Avoid or reduce mechanical soil disturbance to an absolute minimum.
• Keep the fields green for as large a part of the year as possible to sequester the carbon in the ground through photosynthesis.
• Grind down the cover crop into the soil just before sowing.
• Direct drilling, i.e. seed placement without plowing.
• Arrange the rotation of plants as efficiently as possible, this leads to a wide variety of crops, minimizing the use of plant-protectant products and maximizing biodiversity.
The Sättra method
The Sättra Method could be classified as a “light version” of Conservation Agriculture. The method ensures that the ground is either planted directly after the harvest or left undisturbed until the cultivation in the spring. No plowing is done in the fall so there is no bare soil during winter. The straw from the crop is left on the field and contributes to building carbon storage in the soil. According to farmer Mats Eriksson, who developed the method, the initial results show increased fertility and biological activity, reduced problems with soil erosion, increased mineralization, improved drainage and a maintained or increased harvest. This combined with reduced fuel consumption and fewer hours worked per hectare indicates that it is a method worth exploring further.
Axfoundation’s ambition is to increase the level of knowledge and assist Swedish farmers to adapt to more sustainable farming methods without risking the loss of crop yields or profits.
Underutilized Fish Species
Swedish bream from lake to plate
Sweden has large resources of nutritional seafood, but only a few species are landed and marketed. Salmon, shrimps, herring and cod account for 65% of all seafood consumed in Sweden – while valuable, but less known species are not seen as commercially viable. Together with the County Administrative Board of Stockholm and the Swedish Inland Fishermen’s Federation, Axfoundation set out to explore the possibilities to make use of these species through attractive food products and efficient infrastructure.
• The project, which started in 2018, has made use of and created an increased acceptance and demand for less well-known fish species.
• Sustainable, nutritious and tasty food products based on Swedish bream are today served through food service and available to consumers as ready-made fish cakes.
• Large-scale regional infrastructure and production facilities to handle, process and sell underutilized fish from Swedish lakes have been further developed.
• Small-scale fishermen have gained an additional source of income.
• The project has enabled municipalities to frequently serve nutritious and sustainably produced seafood for school children according to the recommendations of the Swedish Food Agency, and at an affordable cost.Photo: Linda Prieditis
Despite a large variety of fish species in Swedish lakes, only a few make it to the plate. Less known species further down in the food chain are thrown back into the water or digested into biogas. At the same time, Sweden imports large quantities of seafood, over 70% of all fish consumed in Sweden is imported.
This waste of resources takes place despite high demand for locally captured fish, especially within the public sector. Many species, which were historically used in Swedish cuisine, are today not seen as commercially viable.
There is a need to make use of these underutilized fish species and in turn achieve a more balanced fishery. However, the challenges are many; a lack of infrastructure, proper chains of logistics to catch and sell local fish from Swedish lakes and a consumer perception and skepticism toward unfamiliar species, to name a few.
In 2018, Axfoundation, the County Administrative Board of Stockholm and the Swedish Inland Fishermen’s Federation, teamed up with researchers, dietitians, professional fishermen, wholesalers and retailers. The goal was to better understand the stock of underutilized species in Swedish lakes and to evaluate their potential as nutritious, tasty and sustainable fish products and together develop an infrastructure to make use of these species.
The project has turned the underutilized Swedish bream, a bycatch to pike-perch, into an appreciated resource. The results are both a large-scale infrastructure to handle, process and sell fish from Swedish lakes, but also sustainable, nutritious and tasty food products.
In the initial project phase, stock estimates and mapping of unwanted substances in bream were carried out by the County Administrative Board of Stockholm, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) Aqua and the Swedish Environmental
Institute (IVL). The assessment concluded that catches of bream can be increased in the two Swedish lakes Vänern and Mälaren. IVL found that the levels of environmental toxins in bream are generally low, both in absolute numbers and when compared to other fish species; bream could safely be eaten several times per week.
Different bream products, such as bream burgers and quenelles, have been developed and received positive reactions from chefs and at restaurants, school kitchens and elderly care homes. The positive feedback has resulted in the production of “Braxenfärs”, a locally produced minced bream with a neutral, fine taste.
The bream from these lakes was given the green light in the WWF Seafood Guide in 2020, which ensures sustainable stocks and fishing methods, and minced bream was included as a Best Practice in the WWF report “A Biodiversity Guide for Business.”
Minced bream is today served in both public kitchens and at restaurants and in spring 2022, bream fritters became one of the most popular products at the restaurants of Urban Deli. At the end of 2022, minced bream fish cakes became available in retail through Axfood under the brand name Garant.
Going forward, Axfoundation is continuing to focus on other underutilized species, and increasing the share of fish becoming food instead of feed.
We have shown that it is possible to create cost-efficient logistics and production as well as attractive products based on locally sourced fish. The fishing of bream also strengthens the Swedish freshwater fishing industry.Veronica Öhrvik, Project Manager, Future Food, Axfoundation
Recommendations: Next steps to scale
Axfoundation has shown that through collaboration and with a large dose of stubborn determination, it is possible to develop new products based on underutilized, local, sustainably sourced fish. However, to scale up further and ensure sustainable seafood consumption in Sweden, industry and authorities must work together and remove a number of obstacles. There is a need for:
� Collaboration across industries and authorities to introduce other species and highlight their benefits to the market.
� Increased data and analysis on the availability of underutilized species provided by authorities and academia.
� An infrastructure for commercial fishing and reduction fishing to enable logistics and the processing of underutilized species.
� Clear advice from authorities concerning the toxic aspects of fish from Swedish lakes.
� Change of dietary habits and an increased consumer demand through information and education.
Madeleine Linins Mörner, Program Director Future Food, Axfoundation
Axfoundation’s strength lies in the ability to gather representatives from different parts of the value chain and develop a practical, scalable solution to show that the business model works in practice. Now that we have created a proof of concept, we are eager to see how other organizations will continue to scale and further develop products based on these results.
The project is run by Axfoundation together with the County Administrative Board of Stockholm and the Swedish Inland Fishermen’s Federation (SIC). Partners along the way include grocery retailer Axfood, wholesaler Chipsters, resource center Eldrimner, catering distributor Fiskano,
Meet our partners
suppliers Fisk Idag and Grönssakshallen Sorunda, the development node MatLust Södertälje and Swedish Fish Auctions.
The project has partly been financed by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD).
Meet Jonatan Fogel, Project Manager of Rural Development at the County Administrative Board of Stockholm, Sweden.
What are the benefits of collaborating with the entire value chain from lake to plate?
Our mission is to create value in fishing and at the same time reach the goals set within Stockholm County’s food strategy. Collaboration is a pre-requisite in a project like this, for a concrete change in society to be achieved.
What is your experience with the project?
It has been extremely educational, interesting and at the same time difficult. Many parameters need to be right at the same time. Our role, together with Axfoundation, has been to navigate these difficulties and thereby enable the other stakeholders to create change.
The result is an infrastructure for unwanted fish to become an appreciated resource – what outcome are you the most proud of?
It is the overall result that I am the most proud of. It is great to be able to solve a problem for an individual stakeholder, but to be able to launch ground-breaking products making a difference is fantastic.
Learn more about underutilized fish species in the report “Bream instead of salmon?” Available in Swedish at axfoundation.se
Underutilized fish species: From start to finish
The goal of the project is to turn underutilized fish species into an appreciated resource and contribute with an infrastructure for these species – for holistic fishing and in turn a more stable ecosystem. The result is both a minced bream for food service and fish cakes for consumers.
Identifying the challenge
• The project starts off with concrete questions: Why does Sweden import large quantities of fish when there is plenty of fish in Swedish waters? And why is consumption primarily made up of predatory fish high up in the food chain?
• At the same time, municipalities are struggling to provide schoolchildren with sustainably produced, tasty, nutritious fish, at an affordable cost, as often as the Swedish Food Agency recommends.
• After an initial meeting with the County Administrative Board of Stockholm, it becomes evident that Axfoundation and the Board share the same concern. In October 2018, all interested parties are invited to an initial dialogue.
Practical challenges and opportunities
• Meetings with purchasers from private and public kitchens are arranged to map the bestselling seafood products, identify potential producers and visit fish markets to outline potential residual flows and different production capacities.
• The status of different fish stocks are analyzed. Trial fishing shows that bream from the lake of Mälaren is a good choice to initially focus on. Mapping of existing supply chains, costs involved, the nutritional content of the fish and the quantity of bream available in the Stockholm
For Daniel Vidlund, seventh-generation fisherman at Lake Mälaren, the bream has become an additional source of income, not just a bycatch to pike-perch, thrown back into the waters.
Product development and tests
• The different quality aspects of the bream are evaluated in the test kitchen at Torsåker Farm during a workshop and a tasting together with supplier Fiskhallen Sorunda and grocery retailer Axfood.
Bream caught in the lakes Mälaren and Vänern is given the green light in the WWF Seafood Guide.
The first test production of minced bream takes place at the production facilities at Chipsters on Åland.
Getting ready for sales
• The production facility at the partner Ekofisk's premises is granted financial support by the Swedish Board of Agriculture and Smittska Foundation to invest in a meat bone separator machine.
Recipe developments and tests
• Recipes are developed with a focus on tasty food aimed at public kitchens and the ready-to-eat segment at the
Recipes and sales materials are shared to inspire chefs to use minced bream to make patties, burgers or fritters.
Launch in retail
• Fish cakes of minced bream and broad beans are launched to consumers by Swedish grocery retailer Axfood.
Production up and running
• Minced bream made of fish from the lakes of Mälaren and Vänern is produced at a production facility in Stockholm, owned by e.g. the Swedish Inland Fishermen's Federation.
• Minced bream is available for food service, both as public meals and at private restaurants through wholesalers Martin & Servera and Menigo. When Urban Deli launches bream fritters it becomes the third most sold product on the menu.
Going forward, Axfoundation is continuing to focus on other underutilized species and increasing the share of fish becoming food instead of feed.
Five Tons of Green Fish
Sweden’s first green rainbow trout fed with a circular-based feed of insects
What started with the basic concept that “Our food should preferably not be eating our food” resulted in an infrastructure converting vegetable-based waste streams into a high-protein feedstock for farmed fish. The result is Sweden’s first green rainbow trout fed with a circular-based fish feed of mainly insects which, in turn, have been raised on a diet of food waste.
• A pilot scale infrastructure was set up to convert waste from the Swedish food industry into quality raw protein material for animal feed.
• A circular-based fish feed of insects fed with organic waste was developed.
• Sweden’s first green rainbow trout were grown on a large scale on circular feed. The fish of high gastronomic quality was launched in 2021 and the 4,5 tons sold to consumers and restaurants.
• The project ended in 2022 and as a final result, the life cycle analysis showed a decrease of greenhouse gas emissions by 70% compared to conventional fish feed. The next step is to take the lessons learned further to test circular feed for laying hens, chickens and pigs.Photo: Roxen Communication
Farmed fish is often seen as an opportunity to provide people with seafood without increasing pressure on the world’s oceans. Today, about half of all seafood on the global market is farmed, but this is not without challenges. Farmed fish is often raised on feed that mainly consists of soybeans and wildcaught fish, often from different parts of the world. These are foods that could be eaten by humans without first taking a detour through fish. Global fish farming, therefore, contributes negatively to the global food supply.
To find a more sustainable alternative, Axfoundation and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) gathered partners throughout the food chain and embarked on the project Five Tons of Green Fish. The initial objective was to explore the possibilities of a sustainable fish feed and to produce five tons of environmentally friendly fish of a high gastronomic quality.
Instead of imported soybeans and wildcaught fish, the green rainbow trout were fed a circular-based fish feed consisting of raw materials almost exclusively produced in Sweden, and not very attractive for human consumption. A key ingredient was insects – fed with organic waste in the form of vegetable peel and bread scraps from the food industry.
The project has proven that it is possible to grow a sustainable and delicious Swedish fish on a large scale, while at the same time making use of an unused raw material resource; food waste from industry.
Through collaboration across the entire production and distribution chain, a pilot infrastructure to convert vegetable residues into a quality raw protein material used in animal feed has been built. This has enabled improved waste utilization and support to Swedish municipalities’ environmental work with a more circular food production.
The rainbow trout was farmed by Älvdalslax in an open aquaculture site, carefully selected. An evaluation of the circular-based
feed indicated that the fish grow as well, if not better than the reference fish that ate a conventional feed. According to a taste evaluation carried out by some of Sweden’s top chefs, the rainbow trout tasted more like wild-caught fish than the reference fish that was raised on conventional feed.
In total, the project has produced 4,5 tons of green rainbow trout of high gastronomic quality, which was sold to consumers and restaurants. The next step is to develop circular insect-based feed for pigs, laying hens and broilers as well as facilitate for a continuous production of the green rainbow trout. In December 2022, financing was approved for such a project; Green Food from Green Feed.
The project was led by Axfoundation and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Partners were grocery retailer Axfood, the energy companies Eskilstuna Strängnäs Energi & Miljö and Härnösand Energi & Miljö, food company Fazer, suppliers Fiskhallen Sorunda and Grönsakshallen Sorunda, the Swedish agricultural cooperative Lantmännen, Marine Feed, food producer Raisio, School of Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Meal Science, Grythyttan at Örebro University, RISE Research Institutes of Sweden, Sweco Group, food innovator Tebrito, developer of Swedish aquaculture Vattenbrukscentrum Norr AB and the fish farm Älvdalslax.
The project included several associated partners; five land-based fish farms (Aquaagro, BIO Ras Ljusdal, Gårdsfisk, Peckas Naturodling and Smögenlax), the Aquaculture Stewardship Council, the Beijer Institute, the Swedish Board of Agriculture’s Aquaculture Office, the industry organization Matfiskodlarna and the National Competence Centre for Aquaculture.
The project was partly funded by Sweden’s innovation agency, Vinnova, and made possible thanks to a close collaboration with the Swedish Cyclical Feed project, which was funded by the Kamprad Family Foundation for Entrepreneurship, Research & Charity.
Recommendations: Next steps to scale
Through the project, parts of the infrastructure and knowledge needed are in place to enable further scale up and replace unsustainable feed raw materials for more animal species. However, to go from pilot to scale, several obstacles need to be addressed.
All food waste must be available for use in feed production. The EU legislation needs to be simplified so that not only waste from plants (before they reach the consumer) is allowed as input raw material, but also household and restaurant waste from several food sources. The knowledge on how to handle such waste is there, however new safety procedures will be required.
The Government should gather authorities, businesses and academia around the same table. To match one actor’s waste with another actor’s need for inputs, businesses need to cooperate across industries and sectors. The Government should give a joint task to relevant stakeholders to create a consensus between supporting and controlling activities.
Business and politics need to collaborate
There is an urgent need to support increased circular fish farming in Sweden. The Swedish Food Strategy needs a clear goal for the expansion of sustainable feed and sustainable growth of Swedish fish production with reduced dependence on imported seafood. To support the transition to increased fish farming with sustainable feed, permit processes need to be facilitated and investment support is required to build up domestic feed production.
Set requirements for sustainable fish in shops and restaurants
Buyers as well as consumers can contribute to more sustainable fishing and aquaculture by making informed choices when purchasing fish and shellfish. For wild-caught fish and shellfish, choose green-listed MSC certified alternatives from the local area. For farmed fish, choose green-listed ASC or KRAV certified products from the local area. Encourage shops and restaurants to remove species that are red-listed in the WWF Seafood Guide, and ask re-sellers to declare what feed the farmed fish has eaten.
From waste to resource A successful proof of concept
Waste to resource:
Organic food waste such as peels, kernels and bread scraps is collected through partners in the food industry; Fazer and Grönsakshallen Sorunda. The organic food waste is then fed to insects.
Resource to feed:
The insects are refined at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), and combined with other ingredients, before being turned into feed pellets at a feed factory.
The missing link:
Today’s EU legislation does not allow organic food waste from households to be used as raw material in feed for insects. Instead a majority of the waste is burned or used as fertilizer, which is resource-inefficient and causes a nutrient leakage from the food industry.
Fish to food:
In 2021, the rainbow trout from the project is made available in selected grocery stores, such as Hemköp and served at restaurants such as TAK and Urban Deli.
Feed to fish:
The producer Älvsdalslax farms rainbow trout on the circular-based feed. With the health and the growth of the fish continuously evaluated, it turns out that the rainbow trout fed circular-based feed was growing as well, or even better, than the reference fish that ate a conventional feed.
A positive by-product is that the insects produced a highly potent fertilizer when they processed organic waste. This by-product has been evaluated as a potential for a circular biological fertilizer by Professor Jean W H Yong at SLU and used in Axfoundation’s experimental garden at Torsåker Farm with very positive results.
Antibiotics: Friend or Foe?
A long-term commitment and collaboration fighting antibiotic resistance
Today, more antibiotics are given to healthy animals than to sick people. For over a decade, Axfoundation has worked together with companies, academia, authorities, industry associations and civil society organizations to encourage the prudent use of antibiotics in animal husbandry and to help tackle antibiotic resistance one of the largest threats to human health. This requires broad collaboration, industry-wide criteria for the use of antibiotics, changed consumer behavior, knowledge sharing and changes in legislation.
• Since 2013, Axfoundation has, in collaboration with a broad network of actors, developed industry-wide antibiotic criteria used across the Swedish food sector e.g. through the Swedish Food Retailers Federation’s own agreement on antibiotic resistance. The first version of the criteria was launched in 2014, the second in 2020.
• In 2021, Axfoundation and the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry initiated The Antibiotic Platform – from farm to fork. The platform gathers a wide range of actors across sectors to quicken the pace of work against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).
• In 2022, Axfoundation’s antibiotic criteria inspired Health Care Without Harm, a European network of thousands of hospitals and other healthcare facilities, to develop their own set of criteria for the healthcare sector targeting procurement of food.
Since the first discovery in the 1920s, antibiotics have revolutionized the medical field and reduced the number of deaths from infection. However, today’s overuse and misuse have led to increased antibiotic resistance, an enormous threat to the environment, to humans and animal health. Today, 1.2 million people die from infections caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. By 2050, this is expected to have grown tenfold.
Startling data shows that over 70% of all antibiotics are given to animals globally. In some countries, antibiotics are used not only when the animals are sick, but also for preventive purposes to keep the animals healthy in a sub-standard environment.
With Swedish farmers using the least antibiotics in the entire EU, Sweden has shown that it is possible to reduce the use of antibiotics radically while still maintaining production and quality. However, Antimicrobial Resistance is a global problem and must be addressed as such, with policies and actions across borders.
With the largest use of antibiotics being in animal husbandry, all actors in the food chain are responsible for taking preventive action and minimizing the spread of antibiotic resistance. Some primary areas of concern are inferior animal welfare and incorrect or overuse of antibiotics, e.g. preventive as well as group treatment of animals.
Together with some of Sweden’s leading experts in antibiotics and animal welfare, Swedish food retailers and food service companies, Axfoundation has developed a comprehensive list of criteria regarding antibiotic use and animal welfare.
The industry-wide antibiotic criteria together with a battery of questions and an education material make up a hands-on toolbox which facilitates for the food industry to set requirements and follow up with suppliers of meat, dairy and seafood regarding both their antibiotic use and animal welfare.
Today, the antibiotic criteria are used across the Swedish food retail industry. Through a broad alliance, Axfoundation is keeping the criteria up to date with changing legislation, market and consumer demands as well as spreading the tool to more actors in the food sector. This process led to the Swedish Food Retailers Federation adopting a new agreement in 2020, based on the first 6 of the 8 criteria.
To further strengthen the long-term commitment and collaboration on the issue, Axfoundation and the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry initiated The Antibiotic Platform – from farm to fork in 2021. A platform that gathers a wide range of actors across sectors to quicken the pace of work against Antimicrobial Resistance, through knowledge and network activities as well as a dialogue group consisting of forward leaning companies sharing their experience and knowledge related to value chain actions.
In Sweden, much has been done for a prudent use of antibiotics, but more is needed. Based on years of work, Axfoundation has identified some future recommendations:
� Make sure Sweden takes the lead and showcases that prudent use of antibiotics in animal husbandry is doable.
� Be a frontrunner and influencer in global dialogues and concerning EU regulations.
� Ensure that national antibiotics use data is collected in a systematic and detailed way.
Retail, food service and food producers:
� Make a public commitment with clear goals when it comes to products and supply chain.
� Collaborate and increase knowledge by joining seminars arranged by The Antibiotic Platform from farm to fork.
� Be transparent and engage suppliers and consumers.
A joint effort
The Antibiotic Criteria 2.0 was developed by Axfoundation with a group of experts comprising: Max Troell from the Beijer Institute / Stockholm Resilience Center, Jenny Lundström from consultancy firm Friska Djur and Frida Lundmark-Hedman from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). A broad reference group included representatives from the food sector, academia, authorities, industry associations and civil society organizations: Axfood, Coop, Findus, Gård & Djurhälsan, ICA, Lidl, Bergendahls, Ikea Foods, the Swedish Food Federation, the Federation of Swedish Farmers, Martin & Servera, the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), The National Veterinary Institute, Swedish Food Retailers Federation, the National Agency for Public Procurement, World Animal Protection and WWF Sweden.
The Antibiotic Platform from farm to fork was initiated by Axfoundation together with the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry in 2021, and today gathers a wide range of actors.Photo:
Antibiotika till apelsiner?
Antibiotic consumer communication
Are there simple ways to guide customers toward more antibiotic-smart choices when it comes to purchasing foods like meat, fish, eggs and dairy? To better understand if it is possible to create consumer-driven demands, Axfoundation, Coop and the Stockholm School of Economics conducted a Swedish consumer study in 2022: Antibiotic consumer communication – clear or confounding? It became evident that to increase consumers’ knowledge and encourage conscious consumer decisions, educational and informational efforts in advance would have more impact than information provided in connection with purchase. The report is available in Swedish and English at axfoundation.se.
Antibiotics for oranges?
Many organizations are aware of the extensive, global use of antibiotics in animal husbandry, and are also actively working to reduce it. Less well known, however, is that antibiotics and other antimicrobial agents are also used to a certain extent in crop production, for example of apples, pears, oranges, rice and tomatoes. Axfoundation has compiled relevant research and global statistics on the situation today in a report called: Antibiotics for oranges? The ambition is to both increase knowledge in the area and bring in new perspectives on the issue. Full report available in Swedish at axfoundation.se.
The antibiotic criteria a hands-on toolbox
The Antibiotic Criteria 2.0 and the associated questionnaire are free to use. Available for download at axfoundation.se in both Swedish and English.
From Pea to Product
Axfoundation’s award-winning Swedish Minced Legumes went from pilot to scale
The concept of legume mince was born at Torsåker Farm, where Axfoundation together with chefs, farmers and representatives from the market developed the innovation from pea to finished product at a record pace.
The locally produced product made from Swedish sweet lupines, grey peas and broad beans was an innovation on the market for plant-based protein, dominated by products based on ultra-processed imported soy. The goal was to make it easier for the Swedish consumers to eat within the planetary boundaries and provide a sustainable and nutritious alternative to minced meat – the most consumed meat in Sweden.
“Axfoundation’s ambition was to contribute to increased demand for Swedish legumes while also contributing to reducing the consumption of unsustainably produced meat. Once we had proven it was successful, we passed the baton to a commercial player who took the mince further, into even more Swedish kitchens,” says Madeleine Linins Mörner, Program Director of Future Food at Axfoundation.
The Swedish Minced Legumes quickly gained ground and shelf-space, with increased volumes. Axfoundation’s innovative work within the program area Future Food was awarded Sustainability Initiative of the Year in 2020 at the Swedish food retailer gala organized by industry magazine Fri Köpenskap.
In 2021, to enable further scaling and to reach a wider market, production was handed over to the commercial actor Svenska Färsodlarna.
“We are extremely proud to have taken over the ownership of this unique innovation. Our goal at Svenska Färsodlarna is to give people access to fantastic, tasty, plant-based food that is easy to prepare. This way, we make it easy to reduce climate footprints,” says Oddgeir Hole, CEO at Svenska Färsodlarna.
The legume mince is sold to consumers by Svenska Färsodlarna under the brand “Svenskodlad Färs”. It is also sold as “Svensk Baljväxtfärs” to the food service industry via wholesalers Grönsakshallen Sorunda and Martin & Servera.
Sweet lupine -- the Nordic soy?
Sweet lupine is a nitrogen-fixing legume with high protein content. Together with broad beans, sweet lupine can replace soy in feed, and also food production. The sweet lupine, not to be confused with the poisonous garden lupine, has long been cultivated and used as both food and fodder in the Mediterranean area, the Middle East and South America. The variety mainly grown in more northern latitudes is Lupinus angustifolius, narrow-leaved lupine or blue lupine.Photo: Linda Prieditis
Accelerating solutions for a resource-efficient economy.
The program area contributes to:
Increased resource efficiency. Economic growth decoupled from increased use of resources.
Reduced climate and environmental impact from the use of resources.
Circular business models and efficient circular use of resources. Use of renewable, recyclable and circular resources.
A circular economy requires that we end our dependence on virgin fossil-based raw materials, and break the relationship between economic growth and resource extraction.
How circularity is not only saving nature and the climate but is the future of businessHanna Hobohm Skoog, Program Director Circular Economy, Axfoundation Photo: iStock.com/zeljkosantrac
The world’s population is growing and with it the demand for raw materials. Resource use has more than tripled over the last 50 years and is predicted to double again in the coming decades. But the supply of natural resources is limited, and the extraction and use have major impacts on the environment. There needs to be a shift to a more sustainable economic model to a circular economy that eases the pressure on the planet´s limited and finite resources.
A linear model of take-make-waste
Over the last couple of decades societies globally have experienced tremendous economic growth, resulting in billions of people being lifted out of poverty and leaving many with lifestyles in abundance.
This massive progress has been spurred by access to cheap natural resources, cheap energy, cheap credits, and in addition, access to modernized and outsourced production.
Acting mainly within a linear model of takemake-waste, companies take materials from the Earth, produce goods using finite resources, and eventually, it’s all thrown away as waste. In this linear economy, natural resources have been seen as abundant and nature has been left with endless waste and residues.
Companies at large have not paid the full cost of production and business models have until now mainly been built on short product life cycles and hence, high material throughput. Consequently, consumption has been affordable and driven consumer behaviors without consideration given to the long-term sustainability of modern wants and needs.
Transforming the economic system
The circular economy represents a promising economic framework to transform the
throwaway economy into one where waste is eliminated, resources are circulated, and nature is regenerated. By moving from linear to circular production models, the pressure on natural systems can decrease significantly. In the circular economy, companies and societies can prosper, but in a service-oriented and resource-efficient way, respecting the natural boundaries of our planet.
Accelerating circular solutions
More and more people are recognizing the great potential of a circular economy. Yet, there is too little evidence of actions. Many companies face complex and systemic challenges in the transition to circularity that often require structural changes and new forms of partnerships. This calls for broad collaboration and the creation of new ecosystems that go beyond companies’ usual value chains and across industries.
In this context, Axfoundation aims to be a springboard for practical ideas on how companies can become more resource efficient and contribute to accelerating a circular economy. Together with companies and actors from different value chains and sectors, Axfoundation practically identifies, tests, evaluates and scales solutions for future business models and material flows. Through the good example of practical solutions, Axfoundation aims to act to inspire, and inspire to act.
Extreme resource extraction
From 1970 to 2017, the annual global extraction of materials grew from 27 to 89 billion tons per year. According to The International Resource Panel, today’s extraction and processing of resources make up almost half of the climate change impacts, and more than 90 percent of biodiversity loss and water stress. Today’s production and consumption models are simply not sustainable.
The Swedish Wool Initiative
Paving the way to zero waste
Sweden imports over 1,700 tons of wool yearly. At the same time, less than 50% of all the wool produced by Swedish farmers is utilized. This is a huge waste of resources that could provide the Swedish industry with a regionally supplied, bio-based and recyclable material. To find a solution, Axfoundation teamed up with over 20 partners to enable Swedish brands to easily access qualitative and competitive Swedish wool as a raw material.
• The project runs 2019-2024 and enables Swedish brands within fashion, outdoor and home textiles to easily access qualitative and competitive Swedish wool as a raw material.
• A framework for quality assurance in each step from wool production to sales, including a classification system for Swedish wool, has been launched.
• The project partners have increased their use of Swedish wool in their production by over 13x between 2019 and 2021, from 4,5 tons to over 60 tons.
• Partners have developed a new yarn made from wool that earlier was discarded.
The global demand for new textile fibers is estimated to increase by 150% by 2050, fueled by business models based on overproduction, overconsumption and low production costs. Companies are therefore searching for solutions enabling a more sustainable and circular textile industry. Swedish wool is such a solution; a regional, bio-based and reusable material with a circular potential.
Today, Swedish wool is primarily seen as a by-product of the meat industry and there is a lack of infrastructure for large-scale collection as well as standardized quality assurance and classification of the raw material. Consequently, Swedish brands import refined wool from different parts of the world, often with a higher environmental footprint and produced with lower standards for animal welfare compared to Swedish wool.
To work on practical solutions and make qualitative and competitive Swedish wool available for Swedish companies, Axfoundation gathered actors from across the value chain from sheep farmers, shearers and wool brokers to Swedish pioneers within fashion, outdoor and home textiles to develop solutions based on both research and practical experience. The project gathers companies that normally would be competitors, but who in this context collaborate to address a sustainability challenge in the industry.
The project aims to build system capacity, scale up the use of Swedish wool and contribute to the transition toward a sustainable and circular industry for fashion, outdoor and home textiles. Together, the partners in this initiative pave the way to zero waste of Swedish wool.
By the end of 2022, the project had developed a framework for quality assurance in each step from wool production to sales. This framework includes a classification system for Swedish wool, a previously lacking market mechanism. The desired result is to create a common
language between buyers and sellers, a reliable supply of raw materials, increased traceability and a stabilization of the price.
In parallel, a wool broker role for centralized collection and quality assurance is being developed further with the goal to bridge the gap between wool producers and the industry.
Together with Swedish pioneers in fashion, outdoor and home textiles, new innovative prototypes based on circular design principles and made from Swedish wool are being developed.
A yarn based on Swedish wool that would normally not be accepted in the spinning process due to a high amount of organic material has been successfully developed in the project’s first phase. This is used for further prototyping with the goal of bringing commercially scalable and circular designed products based on discarded Swedish wool to the market.
The project carries out a sustainability analysis of the raw material to identify sustainability benefits and strengthen the competitiveness of the raw material. Business modeling will ensure that solutions in the project create value for all actors involved. Axfoundation has also contributed to the long-term development of the wool industry in Sweden by being part of the development of the national organization Arena Svensk Ull.
By contributing to the right market conditions and innovative product development, there is an opportunity to redirect a linear stream of this discarded resource to become a circular and sustainable material in the world of textiles and fashion.Johanna Behrman, Project Manager, Circular Economy, Axfoundation
Hanna Hobohm Skoog from Axfoundation visits Norrby Farm and meets with wool classifier Linnea Eklund before embarking on the Swedish Wool Initiative.
Axfoundation is the project lead and collaborates with, among others; fashion, outdoor and wool brands Filippa K, Tiger of Sweden, Fjällräven and Klippan Yllefabrik, wool companies Ullcentrum, Ullkontoret and Västkustens Ullinsamling, the research and development organization Chalmers Industriteknik, Smart Textiles by Science Park Borås, Swedish Environmental Institute (IVL), consultancy firms Circularista and LE Ullkonsult, supply chain traceability
Meet our partners
Meet Jodi Everding, Vice President of Sustainability at Scandinavian fashion brand Filippa K. Together with partners Filippa K successfully launched a proof-of-concept with small collections of garments made of 100% Swedish wool.
company TrusTrace, Federation of Swedish Farmers, Norrby Farm and the Swedish Sheep Shearing Association.
Part of the project’s group of experts are Norwegian knowledge base Animalia, Rural Economy and Agricultural Societies in Halland (HUSEC), co-stream utilizer Norilia and the Swedish Sheep Breeding Association. The project is supported by Sweden’s Innovation Agency Vinnova’s program area, Sustainable Industry.
Filippa K scaled up its use of Swedish wool, what is your long-term plan?
We have been increasing our use of Swedish wool every year since the initiative started. In 2022, we bought roughly four times the amount of raw wool compared to 2019. We make sure to have some products in Swedish wool every year, as it should be a continuous part of our assortment.
Could this be replicated in other markets or by other brands?
Absolutely! Part of our work with the Swedish Wool Initiative aims to standardize how wool is classified, sorted, priced and processed, which would enable other interested brands or suppliers to integrate Swedish wool into their existing supply chain. The great thing about wool is that most brands are already using it for a wide range of products. As we get the infrastructure for Swedish wool up and running, it should be easy for brands to incorporate it into their assortment.
How important is the broad collaboration from farm to store?
It’s intrinsic – we will not succeed without engaging the whole value chain. The project has brought together stakeholders from opposite ends of the value chain who would not usually interact. It has been valuable to include the experiences of all stakeholders, so we don’t progress too far in a direction that benefits one party in the value chain but would not be workable for another. It’s important to have this diversity of perspectives to drive us toward the common goal.
A road map from singular to a circular use of grocery bags
The last decade’s change in consumer behavior has led to a steep increase in e-commerce, which in turn has led to a drastic increase in packaging waste. To take on this challenge, Axfoundation gathered Sweden’s key actors in the grocery sector. Companies normally competing, such as Axfood, Coop, ICA and Mathem, are now collaborating to address the growing challenge with single-use packaging and more specifically the use of paper bags in grocery home deliveries.
• A collaborative project to replace the current linear grocery e-commerce deliveries in paper bags with a joint circular system for reuse delivery bags. Bringing together Sweden’s key actors in the grocery trade.
• In 2024, the project will deliver a road map for the circular reuse bag system and a suggested traceability solution.
In 2021, 1,5 million tons of packaging ended up as waste on the Swedish market according to Statistics Sweden. Paper packaging is the most common, with over 55 kilos per person per year. Often, packaging for single use has a short lifecycle and becomes waste in no time. Consequently, the world sees a growing negative environmental impact.
Today, actions to solve these issues are mostly focusing on the recycling of packaging materials. However, more and more actors are switching the focus from recycling to reuse, to ease the pressure on the extraction of raw materials.
The shift is driven partly by business, and partly by legislation. As an integral part of Sweden’s environmental quality objectives, the Swedish Government´s milestone target states that the proportion of reusable packaging on the market must increase by at least 30% from the year 2022 to the year 2030.
Meet our partners
The project Returnable is a collaborative research project planned to deliver its findings in 2024. Axfoundation’s goal is to contribute to an industry-wide solution where grocery home deliveries are done within a circular system in which reusable delivery bags are shared among industry partners and used countless times by consumers.
Partners in the project are Sweden’s key actors in the grocery sector: Axfood, Coop, ICA and Mathem, together with the service design and UX agency Antrop, product design agency Boid, the research and development organization Chalmers Industriteknik, circular systems provider Svenska Retursystem (SRS) as well as the Swedish Food Retailers Federation, among others. The project is partly funded by Vinnova, the Swedish Energy Agency and Formas via the strategic innovation program RE:Source.
Meet Andreas Hanning, former Project Manager, Circular Economy at Chalmers Industriteknik, a research and development organization with a focus on innovation for a sustainable society.
How important is the broad collaboration with different retailers for this project?
This is a key component! If a future circular system is to be achieved, we need a broad industry collaboration to reach high enough market shares for the circular packaging, both for logistical reasons and to drive down costs.
Any leads on how a more sustainable packaging could look like?
Do we always need packaging? There will most probably be different solutions for different market segments, and that’s part of the project to analyze. Sustainable packaging will minimize the overall impact from a full life cycle perspective.
Over & Oat
Redirecting residual flows from oat drink production to new food or bio-based products
It started, as it often does, with a very practical sustainability challenge: How can the industry collaborate to make use of tons of residual product generated daily from oat drink production? This spurred our interest. With an innovative team geared up, Axfoundation set out on a journey to find sustainable and economically viable ways to redirect this valuable resource from today’s downgraded use as feed, biogas or fertilizer to an upgraded ingredient in food products or input in new materials.
• The food segment of oat-based products in Sweden is increasing. The project is set out to make better use of the residual product; okara. Today, okara is used for feed, fertilizer and biogas, a waste of a resource high in protein and fiber.
• The project started in 2022. The goal is to develop and increase knowledge on processing techniques and methods, nutrient assessment testing, biotechnical analysis and quality assurance, business models and product development.Photo: The Green Dairy
Ensuring that the food produced is also eaten is crucial in reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and achieving a resource-efficient food system. One of the Swedish Government´s milestone targets for 2025 is stating that food losses should decrease and an increased share of the food produced must reach stores and consumers.
A growing food waste challenge in Sweden are residual products from oat-based products a food segment that is increasing rapidly. For every liter of oat drink produced, approximately 0,20 liter of residue, so-called okara, is generated. Despite being rich in both protein and fibers and perfectly fit for human consumption, this product is today mainly used for feed, fertilizer and biogas production. This is an unacceptable waste of a resource that can become a valuable ingredient in food or bio-based products.
However, infrastructure and large-scale solutions for using the residual product are lacking as the market is underdeveloped. The Over & Oat project aims to contribute with an industry-wide initiative to develop processing
We need to maximize resource-utilization within the food industry. The by-product okara is very rich in protein and fibers, so it can become a valuable ingredient in food or component in bio-based products.Johan Sidenmark, Project Manager, Circular Economy, Axfoundation
techniques and methods, biotechnical analysis and quality assurance, business models and product development.
Drawing on the expertise from Axfoundation’s team in Circular Economy and Future Food together with partners in industry and academia, the project aims to ensure that the residual product from oat drinks is upgraded, and thus contributes to smarter resource utilization and a move toward a more circular and sustainable food industry.
Plastics Progress Tools
Addressing the complexity of plastics
Global plastics consumption is expected to quadruple in the coming century and EU’s plastics emissions are likely to double by 2050. To address this enormous sustainability challenge, companies are increasingly setting goals and strategies for more sustainable consumption of plastics, yet few have the necessary methods and tools to properly map their current use. The Plastics Progress Tools initiative aimed to support companies on their journey toward more responsible use of plastics. The goal was to help companies find more unified ways of measuring, which can form a basis for strategic decision-making.
• The Plastics Progress Tools project was launched to find a standard for how Swedish companies could map and act on their use of plastics.
• The project has resulted in the development of a practical methodology and a prototype of a digital tool developed and tested by companies KICKS and Åhléns.
• Along the way, Axfoundation discovered that developing the digital tool for compiling and analyzing plastics data, was more difficult than first anticipated.Photo: Linda Prieditis
Economic development followed by higher consumption is driving increased demand for plastics. The EU is acting against this plastic overconsumption and pollution with several legislative frameworks, including the Circular Economy Action Plan, the Single-Use Plastics Directive and the Plastic Bags Directive, to name a few.
Companies are struggling to adapt their businesses to these new legislations, while simultaneously trying to understand and act on their own plastics use. Setting goals is common and provides a starting point for the elimination of unnecessary plastics and an increase in recycling rates – it is an important statement of intent and a step toward a revolution in the way companies use plastics. However, often targets are not transformed into practical actions. One reason for this is that measuring and following up are challenging as plastics are found everywhere and in countless variants and shapes.
There is currently no standard for how Swedish companies should map and act on their use of plastics in the same way as, for example, climate calculations are carried out according to the greenhouse gas protocol. Instead, solutions typically exist on an individual company level and are adapted to each company’s unique conditions. This is the challenge that the Plastics Progress Tools project aimed to address.
Together with actors from different value chains and sectors the project set out to develop a practical methodology and digital tool to support companies in unified ways of measuring plastics, which can form a basis for strategic prioritization and decision-making.
The project has developed a methodology describing how companies can take a stepby-step approach to set key performance indicators, collect data and analyze the results when it comes to plastic use.
The methodology also describes common pitfalls and success factors. A list of definitions
has been created to support collaboration and to create a common language around some of the complex terms related to plastics.
Furthermore, the project has developed a structure for parameters and factors that should be included in tools monitoring plastics data. A prototype of a digital tool was developed and tested by beauty chain KICKS and the Swedish department store Åhléns. The results and insights from the pilot were shared widely for potential further development.
The second phase of the project, developing the digital tool for compiling and analyzing plastics data, turned out to be a difficult one. Lack of upstream data from suppliers, the complexity of data sets and alignment, the integration with current data systems and challenges in harmonizing how and what to measure were some obstacles. Axfoundation has not yet found a practical solution for Plastics Progress Tools due to these challenges.
Recently, Axfoundation has seen an increased focus on measuring plastics in Sweden and the EU. The market has started to develop its own integrated solutions for packaging data in existing support systems a development Axfoundation warmly welcomes. Currently, Axfoundation is reaching out to industry partners and companies to share knowledge and align with similar initiatives.
Plastics Progress Tools was developed in collaboration with Axel Johnson AB, the consultancy agency 2050 and companies from different sectors, including Axel Johnson International, Axfood, Dagab, Dustin, Filippa K, KICKS, Martin & Servera and Åhléns.
The Project Reference Group included trade organization DLF Sweden, packaging collection service FTI, GS1 Sweden, Swedish Environmental Institute (IVL), Environmental Protection Agency, the Swedish Food Retailers Federation, the Swedish Trade Federation, Swedish Plastic Recycling and the industry organization for private recycling companies in Sweden Återvinningsindustrierna.
Delegation for Circular Economy
In 2020, the Swedish Government adopted a national strategy for a circular economy - an important step in the right direction. However, a society’s transition from linear to circular must be addressed jointly by politicians, the business sector, the public sector, academia, private individuals and civil society. The Delegation for Circular Economy provides such collaboration and includes several expert groups each with the responsibility to suggest actions needed for such a circular transition in Sweden.
Axfoundation participates in two of these expert groups, contributing with practical lessons learned from years of working with concrete solutions related to a circular economy. The Expert Group for System Perspective delivered its report to the delegation in late 2022, focusing on the risks of goal conflicts and suboptimizations in the transition to circularity. The Expert Group for a Norm Shift published the report “Faith, Hope and Visions” the same year, stating that the key to reaching an attractive sustainable future is to be able to envision it.
Our Stratospheric City is based on a symbiotic relationship between widespread green, technological innovation and social needs. Around the city, there are suburbs cultivated by the citizens for self-consumption and exchange, through systems of private and community urban gardens. In its skies float ‘aerostatic trees’ that measure pollution levels and contribute to reducing emissions.Vision by Stratosferica, idea by Nicolò Taglia, design by R3 Architetti
Sustainable Production and Consumption
Pushing for conscious consumption and responsible trade throughout the value chain.
The program area contributes to:
Better working and living conditions along global supply chains.
Increased climate leadership at supplier level. Increased supply chain and product transparency and traceability.
Business models that spear toward sustainable consumption. Responsible buying practices.Photo: Linda Prieditis
We want to spur buyers and suppliers to take climate action.
Staying within the Planetary Boundaries
How to ensure sustainable production and consumption patterns
Unsustainable patterns of consumption and production are root causes of the triple planetary crisis; climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. Sustainable production and consumption is about decoupling economic growth from environmental degradation and ensuring that humanity prospers within the planetary boundaries, while the rights of future generations are being respected.
In 2050, the equivalent of almost three planets will be required to provide the natural resources needed to sustain current lifestyles across the globe. A growing global population, increased urbanization and unsustainable consumption patterns lead to excessive use of resources. This applies to everything; from the food we eat to the clothes we wear; from the technology we use to the items we buy.
Responsible trade and consumption
Staying within the planetary boundaries while meeting social foundations such as access to life essentials with healthcare, education, equity for all demands a shift to more sustainable production and consumption approaches. Consumers need to change lifestyles as well as consumption patterns, and producers must reduce their negative environmental and social impact.
Companies as a driver for change
Companies play an immensely important role to drive the needed change and it is in the best interest of businesses to find new solutions that enable this shift. To succeed,
a better understanding of the environmental and social impacts of products and services is needed, both of product life cycles and how these are affected by use.
Supply chain traceability and access to data are prerequisites for compliance with upcoming sustainability directives from the EU. Innovation and digitalization will be key. Carbon insetting, referring to the financing of climate protection along a company’s own value chain, will spur a positive impact on the communities and ecosystems associated with the value chain.
Facilitating concrete change
Axfoundation develops practical solutions to global and local sustainability challenges in various industries. Together with actors in the entire value chain, Axfoundation tackles social and environmental issues to drive producers, trading companies and customers toward sustainable business models and behaviors. The ambition is to inspire change, spread good examples and drive initiatives that have transformative potential for both production and consumption.
Climate Education Tool
Reducing carbon emissions at the supplier level
Many manufacturing companies, whether in Europe or Asia, are transitioning to energy-efficient processes. Others have yet to start their climate journey and need to accelerate fast to prepare for buyers’ growing demand for fossil-free production. The latter is the case for thousands of small and medium-sized suppliers to European companies in the food sector as well as in the textile and electronics sectors. To motivate and raise climate competence among these suppliers, Axfoundation, in collaboration with climate and ed tech experts retail companies and their suppliers, developed an online Climate Education Tool, free of cost and open to companies in several industries.
• The Climate Education Tool is a free, generic, online education to help companies –throughout the supply chain – to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs.
• As part of its scope 3 strategy, any buying company can send the tool link to suppliers and request them to do the training.
• The Climate Education Tool was launched at Stockholm +50 in June 2022, in a broadcast by WeDontHaveTime and is to be rolled out globally.Photo: iStock.com/S.Thongsawang
Supplier emissions stand for the largest portion of a company’s carbon footprint and are the most challenging to calculate. To tackle this challenge, Axfoundation together with multiple national and global business actors embarked on a joint journey to address climate emissions where they are the greatest; in Scope 3.
First, a feasibility study was made among suppliers in China, India and Bangladesh to gain insights into the knowledge level and capacity related to the climate crisis and the needed transition. The study showed that the level of climate-related knowledge varied, as well as resources and incentives to set targets and build new strategies. There was an apparent lack of climate leadership, and many suppliers were unaware that buying brands plan to phase out fossil-based suppliers by 2030.
In that gap, the project’s partners saw a need for competence transfer, capacity building on the supplier side and clearer requirements and support from purchasing companies. After a market evaluation of online training tools for this target group, the conclusion was that none that was suitable for beginners seemed to be found. This spurred the development of the Climate Education Tool for companies willing to take climate action.
In June 2022, the tool was launched. The training is, as far as we know, the first of its kind. It relies on science-based targets and contains a step-by-step educational module and a Climate Action Status Tracker with checklists for next actions, inspirational case studies and a library of links and references. Any buying company can easily send the link to its suppliers and thereby send a clear message: Start reducing your emissions.
During March-August 2022, before the official roll-out, the tool had 8,000 unique visitors and 52,000 actions. The tool is yet to be translated into Mandarin and developed further.
The Climate Education Tool is the result of a collaboration between Axfoundation and grocery retailer Axfood/Dagab, beauty chain Kicks, wholesaler Martin & Servera, the Swedish Trade Federation and Exponential Roadmap Initiative. The software is developed by Impact OS by AskKauko.
Meet our partners
The lion’s share of the greenhouse gas emissions is found in the value chain. Swedish beauty chain Kicks has, like many other companies, struggled with reducing Scope 3 emissions.
Reduced emissions in the supply chain is a priority. With the Climate Education Tool, we can push and motivate our suppliers to save energy and cost.
Meet our suppliers
One of the Climate Education Tool’s first test users, a yarn producer in Bangladesh, Eco Threads & Yarns, had already come far with the transition to energy-efficient processes and solar panels. Yet, the Executive Director confirmed that this “one-point training” with compiled science-based and practical education is just what companies at the beginning of their climate journey need.
The Climate Education Tool provides useful guidance to understanding and taking actions to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs.
The Climate Education Tool is developed based on science and aims to inform, motivate and educate suppliers in line with the Carbon Law, the 1.5-degree goal, 1.5 Business Playbook and Science-Based Targets.
� Carbon Law: The world needs to halve emissions every decade by 2050 from a 2020 baseline, which amounts to a year-on-year reduction rate of 7%. This is called the Carbon Law.
� 1.5-degree goal: The goal of the Paris Agreement, which calls for countries to take concerted climate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
� 1.5 Business Playbook: A spin-off from the Exponential Roadmap Initiative, a science-based cross-sector collaboration. The Playbook is developed for companies and organizations of all sizes that want to align with the 1.5°C and net-zero ambition. It contains solid guidelines on how to set targets, lay down a strategy and take action.
Use the Climate Education Tool
Visit www.climateeducationtool.com and send a clear message to your suppliers: Know your emissions and how to reduce them. This is how to do it in line with science. It will save you costs and make you a competitive supplier. Free to use and share!
Emissions are divided into three scopes
Scope 1: Direct greenhouse gas emissions that a business has control over, e.g., greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles and machines that the business owns or leases.
Scope 2: Indirect emissions from electricity, such as electricity production, district heating and cooling.
65-95% of emissions are typically within scope 3
Scope 3: Indirect greenhouse gas emissions that occur outside the boundaries of the business. The emissions are often divided into so-called upstream and downstream emissions, depending on whether they occur before or after a company’s own operations in the value chain. Upstream emissions; material consumption, business travel or production of equipment. Downstream emissions; processing, usage and final handling of sold products.
We envision the Climate Education Tool to encourage SMEs to set targets and strategies in line with the GHG protocol and science-based targets.Viveka Risberg, Program Director Sustainable Production and Consumption, Axfoundation
ProPare – Product Passport Resolver
A global standard for digital product passports
The EU is expected to implement new legislation requiring almost all products made available on the European market to have a digital product passport. These will provide sustainability data right down to the smallest product component to support the transition toward a circular economy. The ProPare project aims to develop the underlying digital infrastructure for these passports to ensure an open, competition-neutral and global standard.
• ProPare – Product Passport Resolver – aims to develop the underlying digital product passport infrastructure. The solution is based on an open, competition-neutral and global standard. The ambition is that the infrastructure will be useable for linking all types of data to products regardless of industry, company or product category.
• To visualize the ProPare-solution, a demo app is created where the third-party certification Svanenmärkt/Nordic Swan Ecolabel is linked to product identities and can be displayed in real-time to various actors. In a second step, other information about the product’s properties can be linked to a product, e.g. recyclability, climate impact during production and the product’s components.
Today, it is difficult for stakeholders throughout the value chain to make sustainable choices. Too little product information is available in connection with purchases, and the information available is not always reliable. Consumers as well as purchasers need access to accurate product information in real-time. This is a prerequisite if their choices are to contribute to meeting the EU’s climate goals and to a circular transition.
The European Union’s upcoming legislation on digital product passports will require manufacturers to share various sustainability data for their products, throughout their life cycle. This enables reliable sustainability data reaching all actors in a value chain. However, with billions of products on the market, millions of manufacturers and thousands of resellers, there is a substantial risk of private, rigid and non-compatible solutions for product passports, resulting in suboptimization and the risk of transparency and accessibility being lost.
To address this issue, Axfoundation has joined forces with the Swedish Trade Federation, Ecolabelling Sweden AB and GS1 Sweden to develop the underlying infrastructure for digital product passports. ProPare stands for Product Passport Resolver where the resolver is connecting data from individual products with various data sources. The ProPare pilot involves three brand owners and some of their products.
By creating a solution built upon an open infrastructure, all stakeholders – suppliers and retailers as well as public authorities and consumers – can obtain reliable sustainability data on products in real-time, regardless of industry, company or product category.
The scope of the pilot is to develop and test an open, competition-neutral and global standard by connecting non-food products with the Nordic Swan Ecolabel and the EU Flower. If successful, more data parameters and brand owners will be included in the next step.
The steering committee consists of Axfoundation, GS1 Sweden, Ecolabelling Sweden AB (the Nordic Swan Ecolabel and the EU Flower) and Swedish Trade Federation. Corporate partners in the project are Axfood/ Dagab, Ahlsell and Mio. App developer is Blue Cromos.
If we are to succeed in exchanging product information between each other, regardless of industry, supplier or product, it will require a basic global and competition-neutral product passport infrastructure. We want to create this using existing standards and technology in a new way.
EU’s digital product passport
� Digital Product Passports: A set of digital data that is specific to a product and that is designed to provide all relevant information over the life cycle of a product in order to contribute to more sustainable production and consumption.
� EU’s Legislation: The European Commission has tabled a proposal for digital product passports for almost all products made available on the European market (except food and pharmaceuticals).
� Sustainability Data: The product passport aims to increase traceability and support a circular economy by requiring manufacturers to share various sustainability data for their products. The legislation is expected to be implemented in 2025 at the earliest.
Sustainable Rice Production in Pakistan
From aid to sustainable trade
Rice is one of the most widely consumed grains in the world, but it is also connected to major social and environmental challenges. When basmati rice from Punjab sailed up as a high-risk crop in 2015, we got engaged: What can value chain actors do to improve the livelihoods of farmers and reduce the environmental impact upstreams? This resulted in a long-term publicprivate funded partnership where Axfoundation collaborated with actors throughout the value chain. As a result, the Garant brand’s basmati rice is more sustainably produced, and a formula has been piloted to turn aid into sustainable trade.
• The project running from 2016-2022 developed a formula for grocery retailers investing in their supply chain, along with all actors, to support and capacity-build smallholder farmers while also reducing environmental and social risks.
• 2,500 farmers and workers were trained in sustainable rice cultivation according to the Sustainable Rice Platform standard (SRP). 50% of them were women.
• Innovative resource-saving technologies were applied and, as a result, farmers saved 30% on production costs and increased both productivity and income by 15%. The SRP farming methods resulted in a 30% reduced use of water and 15% reduced CO2e emissions.Photo: Oxfam
The agricultural sector in Pakistan is unregulated and working conditions are harsh. Particularly vulnerable are women, who get paid less than men and often lack influence in decision-making. Climate change has led to harvests failing and groundwater levels diminishing. Already in 2015, basmati rice from the Punjab region came out as one of the major risk products in Axfood’s human rights risk analysis. Something needed to be done if the product were to remain on the shelf.
To get a better understanding of the situation for small-scale rice farmers and workers in the region, Oxfam was assigned to do a poverty study and soon after Axfoundation was approached. Supply chain actors were mobilized and before long, the Sustainable Rice Production project was initiated.
The aim of the project has been to strengthen women’s influence, improve working conditions and develop sustainable cultivation methods to minimize risks while improving farmers’ living incomes. With Oxfam as the implementing partner and the whole value chain involved, the Sustainable Rice Production project has been a long-term commitment involving 2,500 farmers and workers and indirectly positively affected around 7,000 people.
After being proven successful, the project came to an end – but both farmers and exporters continue to uphold the new standards.
The project has proven a fruitful model for a public-private partnership due to its holistic ambition, involving the whole value chain. It has paved the way to bring more sustainably produced basmati rice to consumers and to replace aid with sustainable trade.
Small-scale farmers and seasonal workers in Pakistan have participated in training and engaged with experts, researchers, exporters and civil society organizations. One significant outcome of the project has been women’s economic empowerment. Within the 25
Grower Organizations formed, over 50% of the leading positions were held by women. The project has also enabled farmers to gain direct access to exporters by cutting off the middlemen and has provided regular meetings with local decision-makers.
One of the end goals of the project has been to produce certified rice via the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP); a certification already available in several European countries – easy to find for the customer. In line with the SRP standard, rice cultivation practices have been improved, leading to increased productivity, better working conditions and higher income for farmers and workers.
When this report is written, the farmers in the project have almost reached the certification level. The last pull would be an increased demand for SRP-verified rice among Swedish retailers and consumers. The more demand, the more supply, leading to social and environmental development in the rice sector.
A Premium Price Mechanism pilot implemented through the project, was well received and made a significant contribution for farmers by covering costs for seeds, fertilizers and watering. The pilot showed that flexible premiums can be an effective way to minimize living income gaps and have positive impacts on farmers’ livelihoods. However, price interventions are challenging. The current food system is designed to deliver cheap food for consumers rather than a living income for farmers. For sustainable change, there is a need for transformed purchasing practices taking this factor into account.
A replicable project
The project is an example of how value chain actors can invest in capacity building interventions at primary production level, where smallholders and workers lack influence and negotiating power. Axfoundation’s aim has been to develop, test and share the public-private collaboration model with other actors, and spread knowledge about the SRP standard.
The Sustainable Rice Production Project in Pakistan is part of the regional program
Gender Transformative and Responsible Agribusiness in Southeast Asia (GRAISEA) funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).
Oxfam International has been the implementing partner through its office in Islamabad. Association for Gender Awareness & Human Empowerment, AGAHE, has been the local operating partner in Punjab.
Co-founders and partners have been grocery retailer Axfood/Dagab, Norwegian food wholesaler Unil, Axfoundation, supplier RolRyz, rice exporters Rice Partners Ltd (RPL), Matco, Galaxy and Atlas in Pakistan.
Several actors in Pakistan have been actively involved, among them the Rice Research Institute and the University of Agriculture in Faisalabad.
Meet our partners
Meet Caroline von Uexküll, Strategic Partnership Manager, Oxfam Sweden.
As part of the GRAISEA program funded by SIDA, this project builds on years of experience from Oxfam’s work with inclusive value chains both within Pakistan and in the entire region. The uniqueness and strength of the project in Pakistan has been the participation of the whole value chain, from the grocery retailer in Sweden to the farmers and laborers.
How have the partners been contributing with their expertise to this project? The program was built on Oxfam’s model for gender-transformative inclusive value chains. Oxfam, therefore, had the overall coordinating role, as well as the expertise about the method and the local context in Pakistan.
Axfoundation´s ambition to push for system change helped accelerate lessons learned in the program to the wider food sector, as well as to push important stakeholders, such as the Sustainable Rice platform (SRP) to introduce social indicators in their certification.
Axfood brought important market insight to the program and was very open to letting Oxfam do research and test a living income pilot using an open-book approach with their polish rice importer RolRyz. RolRyz on their side contributed with important knowledge about the importer’s role in the value chain, as well as technical expertise when calculating living income for the farmers together with Oxfam.
The local Pakistani exporter, Galaxy, brought important knowledge about the rice market in Pakistan, and the grower organizations brought the important farmer and labor perspective to all the interventions.
There is strength in numbers. We women have always worked in the rice fields, but earlier we didn’t get the right pay. No one listened to us when we made demands in small groups. Now through the grower organization, our demands are met, and we get better salaries.
We want the Garant basmati rice to be grown, harvested and sold in a manner that benefits both the small-scale farmer and the environment. The whole production chain has been actively contributing to the project. Everybody with the same goal; sustainable rice.
Sustainable Rice Platform
� The training of farmers and workers is based on the Sustainable Rice Cultivation Standard by the Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP).
� SRP pursues market transformation and public policy initiatives to drive change toward more sustainable standards, which will improve the lives of rice producers and minimize the environmental impact of rice production.
Ethical Trading Initiative Sweden
Collaboration to improve working conditions in global supply chains
Global production of food, clothes and products is entangled with breaches of workers’ rights. The challenges are tied to global trade mechanisms building on cheap labor, and to production markets with varied implementation of Human Rights Law. The issues are difficult to address for a single organization and need to be tackled in broad collaboration. Therefore, in 2019, Axfoundation together with partners initiated the formation of Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) Sweden. Since its inception the initiative has expanded to more than 60 member organizations and broadened its approach.
• ETI Sweden was formed in 2019 to improve workers’ rights and uphold the respect for human rights in global supply chains. Members include unions, NGOs, public procurers and companies from various sectors.
• In 2022, ETI Sweden launched the Swedish Platform on Risk Commodities, whose members stand behind the common vision to contribute to sustainable production and consumption of high-risk crops such as soy and palm oil.
• Axfoundation previously coordinated the Swedish Soy Dialogue and took the first steps for the Swedish Initiative for Sustainable Palm Oil in Cosmetics and Detergents. These initiatives evolved and married into what is now the Swedish Platform for Risk Commodities.
Global trade has on the one hand lifted millions of people from poverty, but on the other hand led to the exploitation of cheap labor and breaches of human rights. To come to terms with social risks in the supply chain, buying companies and public procurers need to assess and address these risks in line with the UN Guiding Principles and the OECD Guidelines for multinational enterprises.
Human Rights Due diligence is the established process for managing risks linked to human rights and environmental issues in companies’ own operations and their supply chains. In the near future, this process will be mandatory for European companies when the EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence comes into force. In addition, a ban on products made using forced labor is proposed by the Commission. Hence companies need to prepare and build their capacity to comply with the upcoming legislation.
The EU laws are welcomed – but will also be challenging to comply with. The green transition as such is instrumental but cannot be treated as an isolated part of the climate transition but must go hand in hand with climate justice so that the Agenda 2030 goals are met.
Today, however, this green transition has increased the global demand exponentially for raw materials, goods and products from authoritarian states. Therefore, the company effort sometimes needs to be complemented with advocacy, multi-stakeholder engagement, local projects and public debate. Here is where ETI Sweden’s members jointly can make a difference.
Since ETI Sweden was founded, the platform has grown to include more actors, address a wider set of supply chain challenges and offer a palette of services to its members.
Today, ETI Sweden provides training and member advice services, develops methods and builds resources. Members form working groups and initiate joint pilot projects in
producing countries. Regular newsletters, intelligence and an open dialogue enable members to learn from best practices and stay up to date with trends and upcoming legislation.
Some examples of global challenges currently engaging ETI members are risk commodities, public procurement of buses and trains, food and beverage purchase in risk countries, forced labor in Xinjiang and exploitation risks for Ukraine migrants. Other issues of concern are mineral extraction and production of solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles, deforestation, biodiversity loss and human rights breaches linked to soy and oil palm plantations.
To contribute to a more sustainable production and consumption of risk commodities, such as soy and palm oil, ETI Sweden launched the Swedish Platform on Risk Commodities in 2022.
ETI Sweden is part of the Joint Ethical Trading Initiative (JETI) with sister organizations in the UK, Norway and Denmark. These organizations reach 50 million workers globally through their 350 members.
ETI Sweden was founded by Axfoundation, grocery retailer Coop Sweden, the nonprofit organization Fairtrade Sweden, the state-owned retail monopoly for alcoholic beverages Systembolaget, public transport company Västtrafik, civil society organizations Oxfam Sweden, Union to Union and We Effect together with the Swedish trade union Unionen and the Swedish Trade Union Confederation (LO).
What is Human Rights Due Diligence?
Human Rights Due Diligence (HRDD) is a risk management process that businesses undertake to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address actual and potential adverse human rights impacts in their operations, their supply chain and other business relationships.
In the near future HRDD will be mandatory for companies in Europe when the EU Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence comes into force.
ETI recommends that companies’ approach to human rights due diligence is based on multistakeholder engagement and collaborative action throughout the processes of:
� Investigation and analysis
� Identification of mitigation actions
� Remediation for workers impacted by human rights violations
� Monitoring, reviewing and reporting
The Swedish Platform on Risk Commodities
The Swedish Platform on Risk Commodities consists of around 30 members. It is a forum for knowledge exchange and provides structure and tools to proactively work with challenges linked to the value chain for high-risk commodities. By participating in the platform, the members commit to incorporating supplier requirements in commercial contracts for verified sustainable soy and palm oil, and to establish systems for risk-based monitoring.
The platform was established under ETI Sweden’s umbrella in 2022, but its story begins already in 2014 when WWF started the Swedish Soy Dialogue. The dialogue was a cross-sectoral collaboration between Swedish food companies, producers, retailers and associations, working together for sustainable soy production. Axfoundation took over the coordination between 2018-2021 and during this time, its 50 members jointly committed to influencing actors to ensure responsibly produced soy, used in feed and food. Later, Axfoundation together with WWF, The Swedish Food Federation and The Swedish Food Retailers Federation initiated a process to broaden the work of the Swedish Soy Dialogue, later resulting in the Swedish Platform on Risk Commodities.
What is a high-risk commodity?
� Risk commodities refer to agricultural products that are produced in a way that can entail unacceptable risks for the environment or the people affected by the production.
� Risk crops can be linked to issues such as deforestation, large losses of biodiversity, the use of chemicals, human rights violations and land conflicts. At the same time, these commodities generate large revenues for the producing countries. For example, the palm oil industry is the leading business in generating economic growth in Indonesia.
� Palm oil, coffee, cocoa, wood and soy are all examples of today’s risk commodities. Palm oil is one of the world’s most important vegetable oils, whereas soy is primarily included in the feed given to food-producing animals. As much as 90% of all soy imported into the EU goes to feed.
Courage to Fail
Axfoundation’s ambition is to contribute to positive development in society by exploring new solutions. With innovation as our backbone, trial and error is in our DNA. Because with an entrepreneurial mindset, you are bound to fail at some point.
We believe in sharing not only our successes but also our mistakes. Here are some examples of projects where things did not go quite as planned. But foremost the lessons that were learned from failing.Photo: Idha Lindhag
MOVE: An App that Failed instead of Scaled
Swedish and European food retailers depend on deliveries from suppliers in Thailand, who in turn depend on migrant workers from Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit Thailand in 2020, migrant workers became particularly vulnerable. Thousands lost their jobs and were scattered all over the country in lockdown. Lack of communication channels and reliable information increased health- and human rights risks immensely. Could a free-of-cost mobile app with reliable information on corona prevention and workers’ rights be part of the practical solution? Well. We tried. And failed.
The UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights, the UNGPs, recognize that companies should undertake human rights
due diligence measures, such as assessing actual and potential human rights risks and taking effective measures to mitigate those risks.
In the spring of 2020, following the pandemic crisis, Axfoundation and the ed tech company Quizrr made a joint call for action and pinpointed a handful of international companies such as Axfood, Electrolux, HP and Unil (NorgesGruppen) with substantial production in Thailand. The International Organization for Migration, IOM, was part of the initiative which was named MOVE, indicating an ambition for a scalable solution for migrant workers in several countries.
To address the communication gap and contribute to digital literacy among migrantPhoto: IOM/Visarut Sankham
workers, a mobile app was developed with free and secure information about corona prevention and rights-based training. The app was a further development of the factory-based training on tablets by Quizrr. With MOVE, a locked solution for employees was evolved into a free application for workers on the move, whether employed or not. The ambition was to reach thousands of migrant workers who would get open access to important and relevant information in their native language. As a digital solution, MOVE had the potential to be duplicated to other markets where migrants constitute a large portion of the workforce.
However, it turned out that the app was not the great fit we had anticipated. Despite support from IOM and local organizations, it was downloaded just about 300 times, well below our goal of 5,000 downloads.
So what did we learn along the way? An evaluation by a third-party auditor noted that MOVE was challenged by infrastructural limitations as well as behavioral patterns in the target group. The lack of wi-fi and access to free internet was one major issue. Migrants usually have a paid SIM card and are naturally unkeen to spend airtime unnecessarily. Another problem was purely behavioral. Despite frequently downloading and using social media applications, migrant workers were not used to downloading educational or informational applications.
We tried to address these challenges by collaborating with local organizations, but travel restrictions made it difficult to reach the migrant communities. We were also in dialogue with a large telecom operator with several million migrant customers, but a company merger got in the way.
When business got back to normal in Thailand in the fall of 2021, migrant workers were re-employed and a few months later the MOVE pilot was wrapped up. The project did not make the impact we expected, neither did we find a way to scale MOVE to other markets.
Despite the failure, the MOVE pilot came with important insights. The engagement on the company level during a difficult time was encouraging. The project partners had never collaborated before, some were competitors. The fact that it was possible to mobilize, co-fund, develop and launch the app despite of five time zones and a lockdown situation was impressive. The willingness was strong to innovate in order to mitigate human rights risks in the supply chain in accordance with the UNGPs.
The most important lesson for the future: Digital solutions can be powerful democratic instruments for awareness raising among vulnerable groups. However, it is essential to first understand the infrastructural prerequisite and its limitations for the users, and ensure a viable business model.
Viveka Risberg, Program Director Sustainable Production and Consumption, Axfoundation
The app was downloaded just about 300 times, well below our goal of 5,000 downloads.
From Waste to Fashion: Easier said than done
Plastic pollution is one of the most pressing environmental issues of today. In Sweden alone, only 10% of plastic is recycled. This is an issue that Axfoundation is eager to address through several initiatives. One such venture was our project From Waste to Fashion, a collaboration with Axel Johnson International and Filippa K. The project had the ambitious goal to take industrial polyester waste and give it a new life as recycled material in the world of fashion. But could it be done in a way that is both sustainable and economically viable?
We started off with a concrete fact: There is a massive amount of polyester used
in transportation and lifting products but unfortunately their lifetime is short, and they soon become problematic plastic waste. We asked ourselves: If recycled, could these products be used to meet the increasing demand for recycled polyester from the fashion and textile industry? To find out, we developed a successful proof of concept in 2018 where industrial polyester waste was made into prototype buttons and buckles.
At first, the project showed the potential for industrial polyester to be recycled and become a resource in an apparel value chain. At a later stage, major systematic challenges hindered us to scale the solution.Photo: Linda Prieditis
The challenges we met when we wanted to scale up have given us insights and lessons as to what hinders plastic recycling on a major scale. These challenges must be solved to enable a shift from linear to a circular use of materials.
Firstly, we quickly realized that the waste streams of these industrial polyester products occur irregularly, in small volumes and in countless geographical locations. The condition of the materials also varies greatly which requires pre-treatment before recycling. Today there is a lack of both processes and infrastructure that would enable a largescale collection and handling. Solving this complex issue calls for in-depth collaboration with downstream actors such as logistics and recycling partners.
Secondly, we identified a need for investments and policies to boost technological innovation and to scale existing technologies. Today´s recycling manufacturers are not set up to
Five lessons learned
handle different types of products and can only process a few different plastics with even quality and volume. The volumes need to be significant to be financially justified for recyclers to be interested.
Thirdly, there is a need for increased traceability and access to digital data regarding the composition and recyclability of goods so that users across the value chain more easily can reuse them or treat them correctly at recycling facilities. Therefore, we welcome the European Commission’s introduction of digital product passports with the potential to increase the chances of secondary materials being returned to the value chain.
At the time of writing, our project From Waste to Fashion is resting. However, new promising dialogues have been initiated with new partners, bringing new possibilities to the table. Great systematic changes often happen where you least expect them.
Curious? Read the full report From Waste to Fashion at axfoundation.se.
During the project, five factors were identified which must be in place to enable a circular business model for polyester:
� Innovation and upscaling of recycling techniques
� Sustainable solutions for reverse logistics
� Increased transparency about the composition and origin of the materials
� Partnership and the possibility of collaboration across sectors
� The right market conditions for secondary materials
Our waste materials had several interested buyers but lack of large-scale, practical and economically feasible pre-treatment and recycling solutions made it difficult.
Hanna Hobohm Skoog, Program Director Circular Economy, Axfoundation
Long-term field experiments at a living farm: A dream for a soil carbon scientist?
Fewer external inputs and field operations throughout the crop growing year, fewer working hours and lower carbon dioxide emissions from machinery. Add to that the maintained or even increased crop yields. The Sättra Method – a light version of Conservation Agriculture that Mats Eriksson, tenant at Torsåker Farm, developed and
implemented in the fields for over 20 years, certainly proved to have several advantages. But did it also lead to increased carbon storage in the soil? In a joint project with researchers and farm advisors, Axfoundation set out to scientifically evaluate its long-term effects in the ground. A journey that proved harder than anticipated.
The Swedish carbon market is in its infancy, and while developing the system it is important to verify what actually works. Our tests show that even with long-term live trials using Conservation Agriculture techniques, individual variation between fields made it difficult to verify changes in soil carbon stocks.
It is well known that healthy soils are essential for the provision of ecosystem services, and soils’ importance for mitigating and adapting to climate change is increasingly acknowledged. One key indicator for soil health is soil organic carbon, which can be improved through certain agriculture techniques. However, which techniques farmers in Sweden should use and how well these contribute to an increase in carbon storage is still debated.
The farmer Mats Eriksson has practiced a light version of Conservation Agriculture for over 20 years, starting with one small field in 2000, and implementing it in over 120 fields two decades later. This meant that at and around Torsåker Farm, we have a live long-term field experiment at our hands.
After careful mapping of fields, researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) and Örebro University, set out to collect and analyze soil samples in the layers to 25 cm depth for evaluating potential differences in soil organic carbon. An in-depth comparison was made between fields that have been farmed with the Sättra Method using reduced tillage during 5-20 years, and with reference fields. Unfortunately, no significant differences in the soil organic carbon could be found. Other physical and biological indicators that were measured, such as soil bulk density and total earthworm biomass, did not show any significant effects either.
Was it a disappointment? Yes. Do we see it as a failure? Well, more like a lesson learned. It is difficult to verify differences in soil organic carbon stocks as annual changes are minor compared with total soil organic carbon stocks. It is possible that the potential effects on soil organic carbon were overshadowed by within-field variation, still after 20 years of practicing this method. The differences were therefore not statistically significant.
Verification of soil organic carbon response to different management regimes in farmer’s fields is a huge challenge and obstacle for current carbon farming initiatives. Going forward, we will take the lessons learned into new initiatives where we will set up an intensive study site in one of the fields at Torsåker Farm in collaboration with Swedish Carbon Sequestration (Svensk Kolinlagring).
Based on the learnings from previous soil testing, we will dig deeper, literally. Samples will be taken over a five-year period, making yearly measurements of several soil properties down to 90 cm depth. By doing so, we hope to come closer to correctly predicting and verifying carbon sequestration in soils. Such verification is a prerequisite for a healthy market for Swedish carbon credits.
Successful or not, the results from the intensive study site will be made available for scientists to use in further research to speed up both market mechanisms and research.
Axfoundation innovates and accelerates practical solutions to concrete sustainability challenges across the globe and industries. Follow us on a journey throughout the years and explore some of the milestones in our history.
The first UN Global Conference on Sustainable Development takes place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The same year Antonia’s journey toward sustainable development begins. She speaks about the “good company” and of the corporate world as the greatest potential changing force in society.
As the 4th generation of entrepreneurs, Antonia Ax:son Johnson takes over the family company Axel Johnson AB, founded by her great-grandfather in 1873. In the photo: Antonia with Göran Ennerfelt, CEO Axel Johnson and husband.
Antonia and her mentor Curt Nicolin outline the framework for what is to become Axfoundation. Right before Antonia’s 50th birthday, the Antonia Ax:son Johnson Foundation for Sustainable Development is registered.
Alexandra Mörner, the 5th generation of entrepreneurs in the family, becomes Chairman. Axfoundation is turned into a “do tank” with a focus on developing practical solutions to concrete sustainability challenges.
The initial ambition of the organization is to support scientific research on sustainable environmental development and its practical application. One of the first projects is a life cycle analysis of an apple’s journey to Sweden.
2008 and onwards
2013 and onwards
Fighting antibiotic resistance
Toward sustainable fashion
The sustainable fashion journey begins in 2008, and soon after Axfoundation and partners establish Fashion Talks, a seminar series on sustainability.
In 2011, the Sustainable Fashion Academy is established to train brands in sustainability.
In 2012, the first textile recycling program together with the private sector is launched. A decade later, Axfoundation is still working with the industry to explore circular solutions.
Axfoundation embarks on its journey to encourage the responsible use of antibiotics for foodproducing animals. In broad collaboration, Axfoundation develops the Antibiotic Criteria for food companies. By 2023, all Swedish food retailers and several food producers have implemented the criteria, and it is spreading internationally.
“The general attitude among the bosses was that business executives should not get involved in these issues. The very thought was considered bizarre. Rather, these were the responsibilities of society and the authorities. No one understood that businesses are very much part of society.”
Antonia Ax:son Johnson, Founder of Axfoundation.
The Planetary Boundaries are introduced by a group of researchers led by Johan Rockström. The concept defines the environmental limits within which humanity can safely operate.
The UN adopts the Sustainable Development Goals. The same year, 190 parties sign the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The Swedish Parliament adopts a climate policy framework for Sweden to comply with the Paris Agreement.
2022 Axfoundation is awarded Societal Actor of the Year in Sweden and receives the consumer prize Blåslampan for innovations in Future Food.
2022 Axfoundation’s Board; Christina Lindbäck, Antonia Ax:son Johnson, Annika Åhnberg, Alexandra Mörner, Mikaela Valtersson and David Salsbäck.
Carolina Sachs takes on the role of Secretary-General for Axfoundation, and for 12 years she becomes central to the further development and positioning of Axfoundation.
The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights are launched; a set of guidelines to prevent, address and remedy human rights abuses committed in business operations.
Axfoundation gets its current name. The team grows from two to five and the organization widens its scope. Going forward, Axfoundation’s focus also includes social sustainability and human rights due diligence in global supply chains.
Axfoundation establishes its motto Act to Inspire & Inspire to Act
Maria Smith becomes Secretary-General and strengthens Axfoundation’s work to use business as a driving force for change.
The EAT-Lancet report answers the question: How to feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within the planetary boundaries?
Axfoundation turns 30 years and continues to tackle global sustainability challenges with over 30 ongoing projects. Keep an eye on the Product Passport Resolver project, our venture Over & Oat and the industry-wide collaboration Returnable for circular delivery bags and more…
The UN IPCC report warns that the world will fail to reach the 1.5ºC level and only the most drastic cuts in carbon emissions can prevent an environmental disaster.
The integration project Open the Door is launched in 2015 and enables 59,000 new and established Swedes to meet. 24% find a job or an internship because of that meeting. In 2020, the program becomes part of Axelerate, the Axel Johnson Group’s focus area to fast track efforts within diversity and inclusion.
Supply chain management
In 2015, Axfoundation starts exploring the power of workers’ rightsbased training by Quizrr on Chinese factories. The trainings led to better communication and raised awareness. The need to tackle human rights issues in highrisk countries spurred Axfoundation to initiate and co-found the multistakeholder platform ETI Sweden in 2019.
Axfoundation gathers actors to find a sustainable alternative to minced meat. After a winding journey from pea to product, the first mince from Swedish legumes hits the market in 2020. In the coming years, several brands provide a palate of green protein products made from local produce, challenging products from imported soy dominating the Swedish market.
Axfoundation joins Axfood and Oxfam in a collaborative value chain program in Pakistan to improve livelihoods for small-scale farmers producing Garant basmati rice. The project results in a replicable formula for how to turn aid into trade.
The Swedish Wool Initiative
A collaborative project to make use of underutilized fish species launches in 2018 and results in products of locally produced minced bream contributing to more balanced fishing and increased availability of nutritious seafood.
In 2021, the first perennial relative of annual wheat is harvested at a small scale at Torsåker Farm using ordinary machinery. A milestone in the plant breeding program starting already in 2018. Spurred by positive results, an additional grain is added to the test site – the world’s first perennial bulbous barley.
The project Five Tons of Green Fish is initiated in 2019 and harvests its results in 2021 when consumers and restaurants can buy Sweden’s first green rainbow trout fed with a circular feed made of insects. The successful project spurs a further scale-up of circular feed for chicken and pigs.
Axfoundation initiates a broad collaboration to enable brands within fashion, outdoor and home textiles to access competitive Swedish wool. In 2022, a classification system for wool is developed, an innovative yarn piloted and the use of wool multiplies among partners.2019 and onwards 2018 and onwards 2018 and onwards 2017-2020 2015-2020 2015 and onwards 2017-2022
“We want to be at the forefront of change. We want to challenge and translate good ideas into practical solutions. Relentlessly.”
Antonia Ax:son Johnson, Founder of Axfoundation
100 41 Stockholm
email@example.com www.axfoundation.seProduced by: Linda Andersson, Axfoundation, Elin Wibell Social Good Agency. Design: Katya Kuzi. Photo cover: Peter Jönsson. Paper: Munken Polar. Print: Ruter AB.