Packaging and plastic waste

Packaging and plastic waste

Published by Becky Thompson on 14th Dec 2019

What’s best to do about packaging isn’t always possible - not yet, anyway!

We are asked regularly by our customers and retailers about the packaging we use for SimplyClean. Is our packaging Recyclable? Biodegradable? Recycled? Reusable? Minimal? I’ll cover each of these in this BlogPost.

The answers to these questions are, in fact, pretty complicated – most of the time, due to the nature of our products. However, there are a number of factors to take into account: 

  1. we’re a small business not a big corporation who have the means of manufacturing their own packaging
  2. there are, unfortunately, very limited eco-packaging options available in Australia, and
  3. our country is big and therefore pretty hard to ship our kind of products around safely.

Recyclable packaging

A straightforward yes. Hooray. This should pretty much be a given these days, we’d all like to hope! Our packaging is readily recyclable and can be put straight into your recycle bin. In particular, the bulk-sized 5 litre and 15 litre containers are made from HDPE, which is a highly prized recyclable material and is the most recycled plastic there is! It is re-formed into products that require strength, such as furniture and building materials. 

Biodegradable packaging

Sadly not viable :( Any truly biodegradable plastic packaging would not stand the test of time on a retailer’s shelf or your kitchen bench for the minimum 2-year shelf life of our cleaning products. Biodegradable packaging is mainly suited to short shelf-life dried foodstuffs and doesn’t really suit liquids, especially those with varying pH (acidity or alkalinity). Also, quite sadly, the fact is that much of this kind of packaging is only “relatively” biodegradable in that it biodegrades in hundreds of years rather than never. Proof that we all still need to read the small print!

Recycled packaging

It’s disappointing that the range of recycled plastic bottles and containers is so limited in Australia. This sad fact should change quickly if some decent legislation is brought in. However, whilst all the big companies continue doing what they do, the demand is too small from companies like ours to make it worthwhile for packaging producers. The good news is, this is an area we're actively engaging with now.

Reusable packaging

There’s a really positive story here, with the two huge developments that have happened in the past 2 years. We are helping our customers REUSE their SimplyClean containers time and time again.

Refill at your local bulk food (or “zero waste") store

With the ever-increasing number of bulk food stores, many of which stock a pretty decent selection of our SimplyClean range, you can just pop in and refill your SimplyClean bottle or pail, time and time again (make sure they’re empty and clean first though). Here’s a list of bulk stockists around Australia (and a few overseas too) – over 75 stores to date :) 

Or Refill-at-Home

Lots of our customers have migrated to buying in bulk for home, or to share with family and friends. There are some pretty cool refill-at-home setups I’ve seen in laundry cupboards and garages! As a bonus, it saves peole a lot of money too, so that’s double the benefit. Our products are available in bulk here and there's a super easy-dispensing option on offer too, that make this a long-term and sustainable way to go. Keep your eyes open for our “How to refill my…” videos coming soon. And happily, our 5 litre and 15 litre containers are made from HDPE, the most recyclable plastic there is!

Where it makes sense, Return-for-Reuse

And the last of the important reuse options I shouldn’t forget, we have been running a Return-for-Reuse system for over 6 years for Northern Rivers locals. Anyone who drops off undamaged empties* to our factory can be sure we will unlabel, thoroughly wash and reuse them. Plus, I personally collect from a number of businesses and stores stretching from Byron Bay to Lismore. Why are locals the lucky ones you may ask? Well it’s all to do with the practicalities of returning containers to us. Transporting empty containers has a greater negative impact on our environment than recycling or repurposing, in terms of freight-miles, and so isn’t a viable option.

Minimising packaging

Our packaging really needs to be sturdy (and it is) but this is another area we’re actively researching for the possibilities to minimise the physical amount of packaging, particularly in the bulk 4-15kg and 5-15 litre sizes. Even so we have very good news right now! A core feature of our SimplyClean products since we first launched 7 years ago, is that our super-concentrates deliver the optimum number of doses per litre or kg. Our commitment to “no fillers” (ie no unnecessary ingredients) means you’ll buy only one pack of SimplyClean for every two you might need to buy of another brand. For example, a kilogram of SimplyClean laundry powder tackles around 50 washes, compared to only 22 washes for Australia’s leading brand of washing powder. When you have to buy another brand twice as often, that’s twice as much packaging!

And last but not least…before popping the empties into recycling consider if repurposing is an option for you?

Families repurpose our laundry pails for sand play at the beach, or at home, and our spray bottles (well rinsed) for art and craft projects. Rural and regional customers often repurpose our larger containers; utilising our 15 litre pails to store animal feed or dry goods, and the 15 litre empties are coming in handy during this drought for anyone with land to move water around their properties.

In an imperfect world, every little bit, and a big dose of thoughtfulness help us Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Let's take care...

Becky

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