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Our commitment to sustainable packaging

Written by Go Native on January 16th, 2020.      19 comments

Packaging - pop starch

A guide to the packaging we use.


Ahh. Packaging. It's a necessary evil, but one we're constantly trying to mitigate. We hate waste & we know you do too, so we thought we'd share some of the things we're doing to reduce our impact on the planet. 

The Go Native NZ model has always been about ordering what you need. We offer a wide range of volumes so that you can do just that, enabling you to buy in bulk to dispense into smaller, reusable containers if practical.

But what have we been doing to eliminate waste at our end of the process? Well, dear reader, we're so glad you asked! But before we get into that, we'll explain the terminology we'll be using, as we appreciate it can get confusing out there.

Compostable vs home-compostable

When things are compostable, it means that in the right conditions - a commercial composting facility, they're able to decompose back into natural elements. These facilities are able to treat the packaging at very high temperatures, much higher than can be achieved at home.

When things are home-compostable it means you can pop the packaging in your very own compost bin along with all your fruits & vegetables & it will compost on its own & offer nutrients back to the soil. Basically home-compostable is the holy grail of packaging!

Biodegradable

"Biodegradable" & "compostable" are often used interchangeably, but there is a distinction to be made. If something is biodegradable, it is capable of decomposing back into natural elements, but it can take a very long time - far longer than a year - & is totally dependent on the temperature & the amount of moisture present. They require industrial processors to reach the necessary high temperatures.

Recyclable
If something is recyclable, it means it can be broken down into its raw materials and repurposed so it can be used again. 

What's best?
No matter what you do with a product at the end of its life, it doesn't negate the energy required to manufacture it in the first place. It takes less energy to compost plastics at home than it does to recycle them, but then composting doesn't replace the need for virgin plastic, it simply gets rid of plastic after one use.

One of the drawbacks to recycling is that eventually the plastic material will break down from being reused & recycled so many times that it will eventually require another disposal method. This is where composting is the best option: where the same plastic is recycled lots of times then eventually composted.

Composting & recycling both have their benefits (& their drawbacks) when compared to each other, so there's a lot to contemplate. We don't consider ourselves experts, but what we do recommend is reuse. Reuse until you no loner can, at which point your options are to recycle or compost.


Our packaging
Packaging - bottles
Bottles

Essential oils
5ml - 250ml - in amber glass bottles with white tamper evident dripulator caps.
500g & 1kg - in aluminium bottles.


Carrier oils & other liquids
5ml - 250ml - in amber glass bottles with black tamper evident caps.
500ml - in recyclable, 
BPA-free, PET plastic bottles.
1L & 5L - in recyclable, 
BPA-free, PET plastic jerry cans.

Amber glass bottles
Where possible, we try to package ingredients in recyclable amber glass bottles, that's because as a process, making glass is less harmful to the environment than making plastic. Glass also almost always contains some recycled materials & can be recycled near indefinitely, a real win. 

Aluminium bottles
500ml & 1kg essential oils are packaged in recyclable 500ml & 1L aluminium bottles. These also have a high recycling value once thoroughly cleaned. We've heard some local collection centres even pay individuals for them, so there could even be a cash incentive in it for you!

PET plastic bottles & jerry cans
Where it's not practical to use glass, such as volumes 500ml & above, as shipping glass of that size is simply too dangerous, we sometimes use BPA-free, PET plastic bottles & jerry cans. PET is a type of plastic that has excellent recycling collection rates across New Zealand & is considered high value, so we very much hope you're able to recycle yours locally. Keep the lids on when you recycle them to prevent them jamming up the sorting systems in recycling plants, as this video from Auckland Council explains:

 

Auckland Council's guide to recycling. Your region may have different rules.

Packaging - bags
Bags

All our butters & powders come in either paper or home-compostable opaque ziplock bags. Occasionally we have to use plastic for large volumes or retain the plastic a product was received in as to not waste resources by repackaging.

Packaging - pots
Pots

For our colours & some smaller volumes of powders we use clear glass pots. We just LOVE seeing the colours look so stunning & it makes them much easier to access for such materials where you're only using a tiny amount at a time.

Packaging - pop starch
Pop starch


Our pop starch filling contains sustainable, renewable materials & biodegrades in marine environments. It is re-usable & disposable in compost, gardens or anywhere outdoors. It almost completely dissolves in water & what remains quickly biodegrades.

One of our favourite things about our pop starch filling is that in conversations with our local bookstore (shout out to Paradox Books Devonport!) we learned that they receive LOADS of it every week with their incoming shipments & never knew what to do with it. Now we pick up bags full from them every week so that it's also getting recycled!


Packaging - cardboard
Cardboard

Our pride & joy of packaging is our cardboard "munching" machine! We invested in it a year or so ago & it's one of the best investments we've made. It means we can recycle all the old boxes we have (we also recycle all the bookstore's boxes every week!) & turn them into malleable, durable & home-compostable protective layers to lovingly wrap & ship our glass bottles in!

There's rather a lot of work that goes into the process. First we have to remove all the tape from the boxes to make them home-compostable at the end of their journey, then cut them into the correct size before feeding them to our muncher. Work that is all worth it to not have to use any form of plastic bubble wrap!


Packaging - Tree-free labels
Tree-free labels

All of our labels are printed to order so we only consume what's necessary, & the stock they're printed on is better for the environment, too! They're made from waste rock materials generated by the construction industry, & as such are naturally white, requiring no acid or bleach to produce. They're more environmentally friendly than traditional wood fibre paper as less energy is needed to make them, & there's no effluent produced by their production either. 

They can be recycled, & they also photo-degrade (if you left them in the sun for months they'd eventually fall apart into eggshell-like pieces). Because they're made of rock, they can't be composted as they don't attract insects to consume them.


But don't take our word for it...

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