Our Decisions Around Sustainable Packaging Materials - The Environmentally Friendly Way
Q. Why should we use sustainable packaging materials?
A. Continue reading...
Plastic was not, and remains not, an option for us.
We need to change the entire plastic based disposable one-use system. The world and our capitalist society has to change.
Our oceans are dying, our awa (rivers) are clogged and beaches around the world are covered in rubbish. Just because our New Zealand beaches are not affected to the same degree as the ones in Bali, does not mean the risk and effects are any less.
Consumerism & Single-Use Packaging
Single use food packaging is a huge problem. The food we waste on a global scale is enough of an issue considering international and national food poverty, without throwing all the wrapping into the mix too.
Land that is perfect for growing vegetables and crops, like the farmland around Pukekohe south of Auckland, is being carved up piecemeal for apartments and pretty lifestyle blocks. Humans are building more houses, there is increased infrastructure as our populations grow and subdivisions are springing up everywhere. In addition, rubbish dumps are increasing and springing up all around the world.
Take, make, use, waste. This is the current overarching concept that defines the way humans act.
Change & Choice
We wanted, not needed, to do something different. Not for looks or cost (definitely not cost – plastic is cheap as I have quickly discovered in this journey), but to create change – to be part of leading the movement away from plastic and towards something better.
If small companies like ours do not lead this trend and put pressure on larger companies, then who will? When it comes to our Superfood Hemp Garnish packaging we are often asked, why not recyclable? It is a great question and a tough one to answer. There is a lot of mixed messages and information out there around the recycling system in New Zealand. In the early stages of our decision making process we saw the conversation escalating around where our recycling and waste was being sent - China among the destinations. We made the call to avoid the uncertainty around the realities of recycling.
Foodstuffs, which owns New Worlds, Pak ‘N’ Saves, and Four Squares, told us one thing they were looking for in new products was home compostable packaging. So, with having the contract in the pipeline to supply our products to their stores, we jumped at the opportunity of a large corporation giving us an opportunity to get home compostable packaging on the shelves.
Our Hemp Seed Oil comes in glass bottles, on this we are trusting the New Zealand recycling system to process them in a green ethical manner. We will monitor this system and the direction recycling takes in New Zealand and will respond accordingly.
Home Compostable Packaging
The technology is not perfect yet. When I started looking for packaging I could not find the ultimate solution to our packaging requirements. We wanted something home compostable that would easily break down at home without the need to take the waste to a commercial composting station - there are few in New Zealand.
There are multiple standards and requirements around the world in this space, it was tricky to navigate through and select the right product for us. Some of these standards say that our PLA pouches and wrapping is not viable for home compost and only for commercial compost. Other standards say our material is not compostable at all. For want of and lack of a clear picture around all of this, we decided to try it ourselves.
We have put multiple of our hemp protein pouches in home composts in various locations around New Zealand….. they work! In some cases we have seen the material break down in just weeks, in other cases it has taken a few months.
We have had amazing feedback and support from the public. People seem to appreciate the effort and are universally against plastic. Myself and our team have had some pretty cool conversations with all types of people on this!
The Future - Crystal Ball Gazing
Who knows what packaging we will use in the future. As technology and science progress we will take what becomes available and it may be entirely different to what we use now. I hope for all of our sake that inventions come thick and fast - instead of trying to land on the moon (again?) energy could be put to use coming up with space-age ways of wrapping our food!
For now, buy food that is trying to innovate in how it is presented and packaged up, and if you work for a food company, ask the questions - move away from plastic - it is worth it.