A Big Step in a Better Direction: sustainable ecommerce packaging
Rebecca Percasky and Kate Bezar founded The Better Packaging Co. in 2018 and tell Cosmetics Design that their ecommerce-ready mailers and transparent poly bags “are partly made from plants, are re-usable at least a couple of times (once or twice as a postal mailer and then perhaps as a compost-caddy liner) and then can be composted to grow more plants.”
They acknowledge that it’s a packaging solution which is “not perfectly ‘circular’ – they can’t be re-used indefinitely, the materials used to make them are not all renewable, and not all of them will be composted.”
“But,” say Percasky and Bezar, “it’s a big step in a better direction.”
Making beauty packaging in new way for a new generation of brands
For now, The Better Packaging Co. has two main product line: the comPOST range and the ØPACK range. As Percasky and Bezar tell Cosmetics Design, “our comPOST Range, which makes up the majority of our products, is made of 100% biodegradable and compostable materials; corn starch, PLA (synthesized from corn) and PBAT (Polybutyrate Adipate Terephthalate).”
Explaining the details of their distinctive materials further, the Founders of The Better Packaging Co. note that, “PLA (Polylactide) is a bio-based, biodegradable material made from renewable plant material (starches such as corn husks, rice straw and wheat straw). While the materials used are 100% biodegradable and compostable, they are not however 100% renewable, as the PBAT component of the packs is made from petroleum-based materials.”
They readily acknowledge that “we are limited at the moment by the availability of suitable, sustainable raw materials that deliver the barrier and performance properties we need; but [we] are always testing resins made from an even greater amount of plant-based material.”
Even at this stage in the sustainable packaging journey, it’s an international effort. “The PLA is from an American company called Natureworks, the corn starch is extracted from corn [that was previously] stockpiled in case of famine or hardship but [is] now inedible, and the PBAT is made in China,” explain Percasky and Bezar.
And while The Better Pancaking Co. is headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand, the package manufacturing itself happens in Asia. “We have a number of production facilities in Asia. Most of our packaging is made from film. Pellets of raw material are melted down, color is added, mixed and then the sheets are ‘blown’ using extruders. As it cools, it sets and can then be printed, cut to size and seals added,” the founders tell Cosmetics Design.
Coronavirus has made business more challenging for packaging companies
“Covid has impacted every aspect of our business; our team and their well-being, where, when and how we work, our customers and their customers, our logistics, manufacturing…” say Percasky and Bezar.
But the impact hasn’t been all bad: “Ironically, working remotely has made us feel more connected with our customers, partners and especially our team. We’ve gotten to know each other on a more personal level which I don’t believe would have happened without the virus and lockdown. We've been able to be there for each other in ways unimaginable previously,” they say.
And what consumers and companies are buying has been affected by the virus crisis too. “It has also changed the way people shop,” emphasize Percasky and Bezar. “With everyone stuck at home, online shopping has gone bananas (a ten-fold increase in New Zealand and in Australia volumes on par with pre-Christmas). After an initial dip, sales of our eCommerce packaging actually increased through lockdown.”
“That said, a large proportion of our customers are fashion brands and selling what would be considered ‘non-essential’ items and we believe their sales will reduce so we have dedicated a lot of our own time recently to diversifying our customer base.”
There’s more to come from The Better Packaging Co.
Despite the shifts and challenges in their relatively new packaging supply business, Percasky and Bezar have a lot in the pipeline at The Better Packaging Co.:
“In the next couple of months, we will launch a range of re-usable courier mailers called SWOP (which stands for the Sustainable Way of Posting). These are designed to be used many, many times and are particularly suitable for brands who have their own closed loop; e.g., those offering rental products which need to be returned, refillable products and also for intra-company deliveries.”
There are also plans as well to launch hanging garment bags, document shipping sleeves, labels for inkjet printers, pallet wrap, disposable gloves, and more. And beyond that, the company’s B Corp certification is in the works. And The Better Packaging Co. is “climate positive,” offsetting 120% of emissions.
Deanna Utroske is a leading voice in the cosmetics and personal care industry as well as in the indie beauty movement. As Editor of CosmeticsDesign.com, she writes daily news about the business of beauty in the Americas region and regularly produces video interviews with cosmetics, fragrance, personal care, and packaging experts as well as with indie brand founders. CLICK HERE to find out what’s keeping beauty industry pros motivated throughout the virus crisis.