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From Consulting to Eco-Innovation: The greenre™ Story by Keith Loiselle

Keith Loiselle, in his enlightening interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, delves into the origins and aspirations behind greenre™, illustrating his and his co-founder’s journey from environmental consulting to innovating in the eco-conscious consumer products space. Drawing from over two decades of experience in consumer products, branding, marketing, and licensing, Keith’s transition into developing greenre™ was fueled by a keen sense of environmental responsibility and a desire to make a tangible impact. His approach, deeply influenced by his expertise in sustainability and supply chain management, aimed to introduce products that significantly lessen environmental burdens through innovative use of recycled materials, bio-fibers, and biopolymers, striving towards the goals of a circular economy. Keith’s passion for not just creating eco-friendly products but also engaging in meaningful collaborations with organizations like the Arbor Day Foundation and the United Nations showcases his commitment to fostering a global change. Through partnerships with industry giants such as Mattel and Marvel, greenre™ sets an exemplary model of how licensing collaborations can align with and amplify sustainability objectives, setting a new standard for environmentally responsible consumer products.

Keith Loiselle, a resilient entrepreneur and founder of greenre Brand, is dedicated to crafting eco-conscious consumer products through both our private brand and partnerships with leading entertainment licensors such as Mattel, Marvel, Lucas Films, and Warner Bros. Drawing on over 20 years of experience in consumer products, branding, marketing, and licensing, Keith has honed his expertise in sustainability, innovation, supply chain management, and P&L oversight. His overarching mission is to design and manufacture environmentally friendly products that alleviate environmental pressures, employing recycled materials, bio-fibers, natural resources, and cutting-edge biopolymers while championing circular economy objectives. As a social enterprise, greenre Brand collaborates with esteemed organizations like the Arbor Day Foundation, the United Nations, and Products of Change, participating in tree planting initiatives, raising awareness, and fostering positive change. Keith is deeply passionate about delivering exceptional products, building impactful brands, and creating memorable experiences that not only delight consumers but also contribute to the well-being of the planet.

In his role as CEO of greenre™, a Canadian-based environmentally conscious consumer products company, Keith Loiselle leads the charge in producing licensed and proprietary branded products with a steadfast commitment to sustainability. Under Keith’s guidance, greenre™ specializes in crafting coloring and activity materials, stationery, and more, catering to diverse age groups while prioritizing environmental stewardship. Keith’s leadership is characterized by a dedication to incorporating recycled materials, bio-fibers, and eco-alternatives into greenre’s product lines. Beyond product innovation, Keith spearheads collaborative initiatives with global organizations like the United Nations, exemplified by greenre’s participation in the Climate Ambition Accelerator Program. Through strategic partnerships with renowned brands such as Disney and Marvel, Keith endeavors to advance sustainable practices and foster positive change within the consumer products industry.

From Consulting to Eco-Innovation: The greenre™ Story by Keith Loiselle
Image Courtesy: greenre™

Keith, could you share the story behind your decision to found greenre™ and what motivated you to focus specifically on eco-conscious consumer products?

Certainly, after coming back into manufacturing in the North American market, I really wanted to explore doing a true green line within our product ranges. I had spent a decade manufacturing previously with Disney, Marvel, Nickelodeon and other major brands, bringing in globally shipping containers of millions upon millions of units of products.

Having children now, I could see the waste and not unsee it. I attended the Zero Waste Summit in British Columbia and virtually attended the Walmart Sustainability Summit just weeks after that. What I had noticed was that not only was our green products line great, but we were having the same discussions, challenges, and insights as those presenting at the events. These were environmental academics and those in sustainability at PepsiCo for example.

In a lot of ways as it pertains to our product, we were far out front in research, commercialization, and new iterations. At that point, I had a meeting with our team, shareholders, and board and stated we are now just greenre™. It is not a line; it is our true brand going forward for all our products and operations. Frankly, I was scared to do it, and I felt it was right in all my being.

With over 20 years of experience in consumer products, branding, marketing, and licensing, how did you identify sustainability as the cornerstone for your business?Your partnerships with leading entertainment licensors like Mattel, Marvel, Lucas Films, and Warner Bros are quite remarkable. How do these collaborations contribute to greenre’s mission of producing environmentally friendly products, and how do you ensure these partnerships align with your sustainability goals?

Thank you. It hasn’t been a balance. We needed to ensure we were able to communicate on our products our mission, environmental value, and proper claims. With our bottom up approach to sustainability in making environmental conscious decisions made to minimize planetary pressures, we needed to be transparent in our goals. The goals are that we prioritize and strive to do better today and tomorrow. Our products are not perfect and change needs to happen over time with a growing understanding of what is the best path forward on a wide range of components. Frankly that path may change and outside of selling plants with the roots between your fingers, no consumer products can be ideal in these consumer categories. Having said that, our product is far advanced and leading in our space environmentally. Having our major studios partners give us the right to have substantial cobranding, has allowed us to have strong messaging to this effect.

On the front of collaboration, we have had the pleasure to work with for example Walt Disney and have real discussions for approaches for consumer goods at turning points in their organizations sustainable journey. Early in 2021 we worked with Christian Del Maestro the Senior Manager, Environmental Sustainability. He had just created the first Walt Disney Company Product Sustainability Goals Tool Kit for partner manufacturers. Soon after they hired Yalmaz Siddiqui as VP of Global Sustainability for the Walt Disney organization. We were excited engage him and we also were able to echo our efforts, mission and share trade details on our commercialization rollout in first to market efforts. This integral timing strengthened our resolve in our rollouts on ongoing integrations of production and innovations to our product lines.

From Consulting to Eco-Innovation: The greenre™ Story by Keith Loiselle
Image Courtesy: greenre™

What were the challenges and opportunities you’ve encountered in sourcing and utilizing recycled materials, and how they have influenced your product design and development process?

As we had officially opened our office doors March 2020, Covid had created seemingly insurmountable challenges in our business and sustainable journey. The continued related ripples have been far reaching from closures, essentials only, container costs, dismantled supply chain, port strikes and the ongoing macroeconomic issues. This has created a resilience amongst our organization.

Despite this we have been able to innovate, nationally and internationally commercialize and advance several iterations of our eco-products and build quality ranges. Supply of recycled materials at 100%, have been tight at times and created delays in some orders. The materials themselves at these recycled levels need different manufacturing treatments to achieve the expected result consumers are used to with virgin materials. Early versions of our products had seen some shape and strength differences that today we are seeing superior results.

Understanding all the sources, quality, and component direction our company wants to take with our bottom-up approach to the environmental consciousness, had been fruitful under the mentioned strains. Capitalization with growth investment has been limited since the decline of fund allocation in the investment markets since Q4 2021. This has left gaps in our own ambitions to allocate consistent resources to areas of furthering growth. Primarily in specific areas of post-consumer material innovation, scientific biopolymers internal research and fast-tracking refined carbon scope accounting among other areas of sustainable interests.

In collaborating with organizations like the Arbor Day Foundation, the United Nations, and Products of Change, which initiatives are you most proud of, and how have they expanded greenre™’s environmental impact?

I think we have made great partnership decisions early in the company. Arbor Day Foundation is a founding reforestation organization dating back 1972 and is the oldest and largest tree planting organization globally. Most other organizations roll-up to them in one way or another. This is essentially working directly, and our efforts have been able to allow for focus on our carbon goals and our circular allocation to specific trees used in our products.

The United Nations has been a special relationship. We not only became a member of the United Nations Compact but we were invited to participate in the cohort of the United Nations Climate Ambitions Accelerator Program. This 6-month program had other members of our group like retailer Canada Goose and Nav Canada. It was a great feeling seeing our figures fall into place and discussing with prestigious groups are similar journeys.

One proud takeaway for us was seeing how we were calculating our raw materials. The figures were exciting because for the most our raw product and packaging make-up was 100% recycled. The Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) databases at the time was limited in the information we needed to pull greenhouse gas accounting requirements. Essentially in our product, we were doing something new, and the data needed was not there to pull from. We had to find a work around and really allowed us to sense our secret sauce and as a business solving real problems in our niche.

From Consulting to Eco-Innovation: The greenre™ Story by Keith Loiselle
Image Courtesy: greenre™

What advice would you offer to aspiring entrepreneurs looking to make a positive environmental impact through their businesses?

I have said this before in other settings and it may seem to fall flat as being inspirational. It is plainly to try and be authentic about what and how you are trying. If you try today and have this mindset of always trying, you will start to see paths furthering your success in your environmental journey. Have your staff share in this mine set, and you will see the shaping opportunities, if they are on your checklists to consider, and it will compound. Economics are very important, and it is better to have “trying” environmentally conscious successful businesses rather than business “trying” and financially failing.

Worry not too much about being perfect. It is about not being careless. Like you would in your own home. You would not throw garbage on your living floor.  A lot of perfection has gone into plans that have backfired. Layer on new things, adapt new processes and assimilate consideration for the planet. Available alternative options are becoming more readily available at matching pricing for lots of supplies, products, or services.


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