There is always a how and a why to most stories. The how involves corrugated cardboard trials instead of plastic bubblewrap. It involves hours of discussion with reputable suppliers of paper tape instead of traditional warehouse brown tape. We have mulled over what we put on the tape that reflects our brand best and we have discussed reusing every box that enters our warehouse and what customers might think when they receive a recycled box.
That is a painstaking process that will likely cost us more as a company, at least financially, when we land on the perfect ecological way to approach packaging. But, the why is what we keep coming back to. It is the why that really matters when the cost of shipping products goes up and we may only register a low murmur of approval from our customer base.
Never the less we have started this journey because we think it is our responsibility. Anyone who makes money shipping products either nationally or internationally should show some ethical consideration for the planet. That’s how we felt when we had meeting after meeting discussing if this move was financially viable. Suddenly the why was clear and that just left the how. We stopped worrying about the cost of corrugated cardboard to replace bubblewrap. We obsessed instead over whether it would do the same job. Customer satisfaction, low damages, few returns - these are all markers that would tell us if the new approach would work.
Why we made this move to more ecological packing materials and a 100% recycling standpoint is best conveyed with a few facts that stuck out to us.
- Plastic does not decompose easily. Styrofoam and plastic bags take up to one thousand years to decompose. When they make their way into our bodies of water they contribute to the deaths of thousands of marine animals. Wildlife and fish get caught up in plastic
- Plastic bubble wrap has to be specially recycled because it is a plastic film. Paper and cardboard can be recycled through your normal roadside collection. Paper can be recycled up to six times before the fibres are too weak to bond. That’s on average a saving of 75,000 trees for each paper product which is recycled a maximum of 6 times.
- Amazon are aiming to make themselves carbon neutral by 2040 to offset the company’s enormous greenhouse gas emissions. CEO Jeff Bezos pledged $10 billion of his own money to projects that help combat climate change. It is the first step for a corporation that has a very unsustainable approach but it does show their awareness of changing customer opinion on the matter.
- We are seeing more sustainable products selling. NYU’s Stern School of Business found that 50% of the growth from consumer packaged goods between 2013-2018 came from those marked sustainable. We also have brands offering lifetime guarantees and switching to ecologically friendly materials like bamboo and aluminium.
There are always social, economic and environmental considerations when making any strategy decisions. But we cannot overlook the ‘why’ any longer. It is clear that a more sustainable ethos is crucial for the planet. We are a very small droplet in the sea of change but nobody ever changed anything without support.
Miia, one of the company directors, is from Finland. Finland currently tops a list of the most eco-friendly countries in the world right now. All of the Nordic countries (Iceland, Sweden and Denmark) take the top four spots. It feels very right for Muldale to create a far more sustainable approach to packaging and streamline our energy use. There is always more that can be done but we are pleased to be making considerable headway.