As consumers become more aware of the consequences of waste in our environment, businesses have been keen to bandy about buzzwords such as ‘green’, ‘eco’, and ‘sustainable’ in the branding of their products. But how many of these products are truly sustainable?
For food services packaging supplier BioPak, sustainability means aligning its business practices with the principles of a circular economy. The circular economy model is based on the living world’s cyclical model – where there is no landfill, but materials flow. In a living system, one species’ waste is another’s fuel. Living things grow, die, and their nutrients are returned to the soil safely. The circular economy is an industry model that is restorative and regenerative by design, where waste can build capital rather than reduce it.
BioPak applies the three key principles of the circular economy model to its business: designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.
“We accept responsibility for all stages in the lifecycle of our products,” says Gary Smith, Managing Director of BioPak. “We’re not about being ‘less bad’. Instead, we’re creating products that reflect a ‘cradle to cradle’ lifecycle rather than a ‘cradle to grave’ lifecycle.”
A key point in the circular economy model is zero waste. Many consumers are aware of the Zero Waste Movement and the ‘Think Globally, Act Locally’ mentality, which encourages individuals to assess their consumption habits and behaviours. But for the food services industry, adopting a ‘zero waste’ policy poses a challenge when it comes to reusable ‘ware’. For example, at music festivals, it is dangerous to serve beverages in glassware but difficult to manage reusable plastic cups. Moreover, they become difficult to recycle once they’ve been in contact with food.
For this reason, BioPak believes there is a role for disposable food service ware as long as it is safe, compostable, and aligns back to the circular economy model.
“BioPak packaging provides the most sustainable solution to users as it protects resources for future generations, by using rapidly renewable plant based raw materials, is certified carbon neutral and provides a real recycling solution that closes the loop,” explains Gary. “But to ensure it is sustainable, we have to encourage businesses to adopt practices that turn their waste into a resource. This is why we initiated our compost collection service.”
The BioPak compost service allows customers to dispose of used coffee cups and BioPak compostable takeaway food packaging – along with remaining food residue and kitchen scraps – into specially designed collection bins at their local cafés or workplaces. These bins are then collected by BioPak and sent to commercial facilities to be composted, usually turning the contents into nutritious soil compost for gardens or farms within eight weeks. BioPak is currently offering this service in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, and Auckland, and will soon extend its service to other metropolitan areas in Australia.
One company that has signed on to the compost service is Cali Press – a popular Sydney cold-pressed juice brand. It’s been using the service in all its Sydney venues. As a result, it saves on the Landfill Levy by diverting 12 tonnes of organic waste from landfill every year.
“BioPak provides a pick up service for all of our compostable wastage, which the local councils in our five café locations are currently unable to provide,” says Cali Press Owner Josh Johnston. “Since implementing the new composting bins, customers have given us extremely positive feedback … it’s a marathon, not a sprint, but we’re thrilled to know we’re on our way to contributing zero waste to landfill.”
For BioPak, this circles back to its entire company ethos, which is to create packaging solutions that generate positive environmental and social impacts throughout their lifecycle. As Gary says: “since we are all responsible for generating waste, we encourage businesses to be part of this worldwide movement in helping to reduce our carbon footprint and greenhouse emissions.”
BioPak will further donate 7.5 per cent of its profits to environmental restoration initiatives to “help accelerate the transition to a circular economy”.
For more information, contact www.biopak.com.au