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Preserve: Growing a Sustainable Consumer Goods Company


This case presents the startup and growth of Preserve, a sustainability-driven business and B Corp, in the circular economy. The company has grown over the years as a housewares and personal care consumer goods company in the retail industry with a closed loop business model on #5 plastics. With this operational model, Preserve managed to create social and commercial value by attaining strategic growth while meeting its social mission. To serve dual-purpose (social and commercial), Preserve helped its partners achieve sustainability goals, but these investments did not necessarily add to the financial bottom line and short-term growth of the company. The case focuses on the meaning of “growth” as the strategic intent for a sustainability-driven business. It explores to what extent a purpose-driven business like Preserve could meet the challenge of simultaneously being a social value leading business and keeping financial sustainability with the current business model.

The case examines Preserve’s founding mission and organizational values, and it discusses the tradeoff between social mission and economic goals any growth-driven sustainable company would face. It puts into perspective the importance of stakeholder collaboration and communication for sustainability and growth. The case introduces the framework of SEERS – Social, Environmental, Economic Responsibility and Sustainability – for evaluating Preserve’s sustainability strategy. The SEERS framework contains four elements: (1) identifying purpose and strategic intent, (2) engaging stakeholders, (3) developing metrics, and (4) implementing cascading innovations. It provides opportunities for considering strategic decision-making with respect to economic and social value generation and social responsibility.

Authors Sinan Erzurumlu
Institution Babson College, USA
Competition Year 2018
Place Second Prize
Track Social Entrepreneurship
Key Words Sustainability, circular economy, closed loop, recycling, social and commercial value, blended value, Benefit corporation, B corporation, SEERS, corporate responsibility, start-up, entrepreneurship, operations management, household products, leadership, strategy
Courses Corporate Strategy, Leadership and Strategic Management, Social Entrepreneurship, Social Innovations, Operations Management, Organizational Behavior, Sustainability, Business and the Environment, and Corporate Social Responsibility
Target Audience MBAs, Undergrads, Executive Education
Permission rights This case will be published at the Case Centre shortly. You find an inspection copy for download below.
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