Our quest to improve our packaging: part III

Our quest to improve our packaging: part III

One thing we are discovering as we explore alternative packaging ideas is that where you seem to win on one aspect, you potentially lose on another. However, we are persisting with our task and we’re pretty tenacious!

Step 11 - we’ve found a UK based company that tests products. A helpful account manager calls us with lots of information and we’ve learnt a fair bit from them:

  • Polybags can be recyclable. If it crinkles it probably can’t be recycled. If it doesn’t crinkle it probably can be recycled, although very few local authorities would actually take polybags in your recycling so this defeats the point… 
  • Suppliers can give you the specification of the bag, even if they didn’t make it themselves as they can go through the supply chain to get it from the manufacturing source. However, without knowing how to test it yourself, how do you know that a) it is correct b) that this specification list actually relates to the bit of plastic or bag in your hand?
  • There are amazing machines in testing companies (UK-based) that you put a bit of plastic in and out pops the specification of the plastic so you know exactly what it is made of. 
  • These testing companies can test for compostability and how biodegradable something is. This can involve sending the packaging out to a warm country to sit in a hot hut (or equivalent) to test the time it takes to self-destruct.  
  • Testing companies cannot really test for being recyclable as that needs you to get involved with water companies and that is expensive (which begs the question, how does anyone know things are really recyclable??).  
  • It seems everything is recyclable but only if you have the facility to recycle it. This is generally down to the local authority as they are the principal (but not only) collector of people’s household waste.

Step 12 - following this very interesting conversation, we then spent the weekend googling biodegradable / compostable / recycle and getting confused!

Step 13 - an email arrives from a packaging supplier we use mentioning a new bag made from sugar cane; apparently it is a new ‘eco bag’ and it’s claimed to be 100% recyclable. It is green polythene, helps reduce greenhouse gases and sugar cane captures CO2. This blurb also says that biodegradable alternatives cannot be recycled and simply just degrade in to small pieces which eventually could be banned in Europe within the coming years.

But where can you recycle it? Any polybags in my home recycling bin would get me a telling off from the council as they aren’t allowed. More questions raised!

In the meantime we email a testing company to ask how much to test for biodegradability and compostability or both.

Step 14 – we find a company that designs and creates packaging, and their website has lots on sustainability.  We call them and they ask us to email them with my budget and delivery date required. My main priority is finding packaging that is good and not necessarily for a specific date as these will be rolled out across the board going forwards; urgency is not critical but quality is. Managed to ascertain that in fact they are all just off in to a meeting and that Mondays are busy days..! I email them with my requirements instead!

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