When I looked into packaging for my biscuits, I was amazed at how much wasn’t recyclable.
Naively I had thought the world of wrapping was almost fully recyclable, with compostable being the next goal. Sadly it turns out recyclable isn’t even standard, but a special request, at least in 2021.
The good news is, there’s more to being eco-friendly than just recyclable. Looking at the total carbon footprint of a product, creates a whole new way of choosing packaging. In November 2020 for example, I sourced beautiful cardboard tubes. They were food safe, could be easily labelled and were made from card. They looked like the perfect solution.
When I looked at the manufacturing however, there was a huge amount of adhesive required and the manufacturing methods had a high cost of production. Being inflexible, they also required a huge amount of space in packaging boxes. This added to the total packaging, the shipping space in containers and the road haulage, creating an overall much bigger footprint.
In December I rethought the packaging and found a thinner, lighter box, that could be folded flat for shipping. It’s also fully recyclable and uses minimal adhesive in its construction.
The next challenge was packing filler. When more than one packet of biscuits is ordered, they go into a postal box, filled out with packaging materials I recycle from the packages delivered to the factory. As these run out, and for hampers, I now have Wood Wool. Wood wool was a revelation to me, it’s like wood shavings but without the dust. And because it’s pure wood, it’s fully compostable.
In total there are six elements to the packaging, which can be seen below:
To reduce the footprint further, I re-examined the packaging from inside to outside. The inner tray is recyclable, but made of plastic. As these run out, they will be replaced with recyclable card.
The film wrap is not recyclable and I’m talking to a number of manufacturers who offer recyclable films to identify the one which will work with the biscuits.
The outer box now has a much smaller footprint, but I’m waiting on the supplier to confirm if it is Fully Sustainably Certified (FSC). If not, I’ll be re-sourcing another box. While looking at the boxes and hamper options, I took the decision to remove the box entirely. It’s required for retail, but for hampers, the film wrap and label are sufficient, giving customers the same delicious biscuits, but with one less piece of card and adhesive.
The postal boxes have been replaced with self-sealing boxes. An adhesive strip across the front, seals the box, allowing me to post the biscuits without additional packing tape, reducing the footprint and plastic further.
The filling on the box is Wood Wool, a fully compostable natural wood.
I’m increasingly pleased with the packaging. There’s more to do though. I want all the card FSC and every element recyclable or better yet, compostable. As a micro producer I can’t change the industry overnight, but I don’t plan to be a micro producer forever, and by starting now I can set the standard going forward for my own packaging. Hopefully others who read this and buy my biscuits will choose similar brands, who aren’t content with large scale waste product.