August 28, 2022 3 min read
Every step counts. We’re all looking for ways that we can change how we produce, consume and dispose of plastics. So what’s our approach, as a small Kiwi business making and selling baked products?
One of the largest challenges we face is packaging. It’s a challenge that the whole food industry is struggling with. There is simply no perfect solution. Cookie packaging needs to provide good barrier properties against oxygen and moisture, for the full duration of their journey through the distribution chain.
It’s a complex problem!
As a start-up, we went searching for packaging that keeps our cookies safe and fresh, while minimising adverse effects on the environment. We considered the number of layers and whether they were reusable, recyclable and/or home compostable.
We learnt that some environmentally ‘friendly’ options aren’t in fact friendly at all. Mixed layers such as kraft and film can render a material non-recyclable.
In the case of compostable materials, the infrastructure for domestic composting collection is also needed. Disposed of incorrectly, they end up in landfill, despite everyone’s best intentions. We also learnt that compostable film, even if it could achieve the barrier properties, has high minimum order quantities, inconsistent supply and a relatively limited shelf-life itself. The technology is evolving all the time, but for now it’s not a practical solution for Wise Cookies.
We also considered craft cartons. But the extra layer of packaging didn’t sit well with us. And it still needs an inner bag layer, that faces all the challenges discussed above.
Where we’ve settled right now is to use soft plastic recyclable pouches and we’ve taken extra care to ensure that our labels are soft plastic recyclable too. The recycling infrastructure in NZ is back in place and collection points are widely available. The pouches are lightweight, using less energy to transport. And innovative Kiwis are creating new products from the recycle-stream.
To make it easier for you to recycle our pouches and all your other household soft-plastics packaging, we’ve also added NZ Post’s pre-paid Soft Plastic Recycle Courier Bags to our Website. We’re selling these at cost, so that you can conveniently add one to your cookie purchase, hassle-free.
We're not resting on our laurels though! We've carried out structured shelf-life testing using a variety of different packaging materials. And as we grow, the economics of being able to place larger orders with packaging suppliers will open up more alternatives. We’re continuing to challenge ourselves to find even better solutions.
For our online sales and the rest of our packaging, we’ve taken care to use only kerbside-recyclable materials. That includes our cartons, water-activated paper tape and the filler paper that we use to protect your cookies during shipping.
Where to next? At our facility we’re evaluating installation of solar energy and we already use a fully electric vehicle for deliveries and our sales activities. And, not to forget about food waste, we’ve established relationships with Love Soup & the Kindness Collective to ensure none of our product goes to food waste as it approaches shelf-life limits for the distribution chain.
If any one thing is certain, it's that this a journey that is constantly changing. There are some amazing businesses and people out there coming up with better ways of doing things. We're learning from them all the time. Every step counts.
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