Sustainable packaging is a new and exciting industry, but with anything new comes confusion and misinformation. Here at Innocent Packaging, we see it as our responsibility to help spread the awareness and education around this fast growing solution to packaging waste. We aim to be open and transparent with everything we do, so please contact us if you have any questions about composting, sustainable packaging or Innocent Packaging. In the meantime here are some frequently asked questions and our responses.
Sustainable packaging, to us, means packaging that is made from reused or renewable resources, packaging that is produced in the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly ways currently possible, and that is compostable or recyclable after use.
By using plants to make our products we are working with nature’s natural cycle of growth and decay. Every living thing grows, dies, decays, then grows again. There is a never ending / sustainable supply. Furthermore plants photosynthesise as they grow. This means they take carbon out of the air (in the form of CO2) and emit oxygen. Contrast this with using fossil fuels which bring carbon from out of the ground and emit that into the atmosphere unbalancing natures global carbon levels.
We term our products “commercially compostable” as due to the sheer volume of material, we need to be composting on a commercial scale. This way our products are composted in the optimal conditions and will compost at the fastest possible rate. If your home compost bin is not well managed and there isn’t much air, water, heat, light and the carbon to nitrogen ratios are incorrect then these products (like anything compostable) will take much longer to compost. See this link for creating optimal composting conditions.
Compostable packaging is any packaging made entirely from plant based materials that composts into carbon, nitrogen, water and other organic material within a certified amount of time. Our compostable products are all certified by the American (ASTM D6400 and/or D6868) or European standards (BS EN 13432).
PLA stands for Poly Lactic Acid. PLA is probably the most recognised bioplastic and is produced predominantly by NatureWorks. NatureWorks market PLA under the name Ingeo and produce it in Blair, Nebraska, USA. It is a bioplastic made from naturally-occurring plant sugar (i.e. it contains no oil). See here for a detailed explanation of how it is produced.
We use PLA to make our Cold Cups, Lids, Straws, Cutlery and the lids that go on our Hot Paper Bowls and Cups. We also line our Hot Paper Bowls and Hot Paper Cups with PLA.
This is difficult to give an exact time frame on. The speed of the composting process depends on what the product is (e.g. wheat straw composts much quicker than Poly Lactic Acid) and the quality, size and average temperature of the composting site. Composting is all about creating the best environment possible for naturally occurring microorganisms to do what they have been doing since the beginning of time. For more information on optimal composting conditions follow this link. For more info on the phases of composting and time frames follow this link.
To give you an indication of composting time the European composting certification standards require that “the packaging sample is mixed with organic waste and maintained under test scale composting conditions for 12 weeks after which time no more than 10% of material fragments are allowed to be larger than 2 mm.”
Landfills are designed to pack in as much material as possible in the minimum amount of space, which can create a very toxic environment without any air, water light or heat and therefore no microorganism can survive. Thus everything takes a very, very long time to breakdown in a landfill. There are even cases where old landfills have been core drilled and 40 years old vegetables still considered edible have been brought up. This is why we are working extremely hard to ensure as much of our product as possible ends up at commercial composting sites.
Our hot paper cups, hot paper bowls, noodle boxes and wheat straw products are all made in China. Our clear cups are produced in Taiwan. We visit our factories regularly and are extremely happy to be working with them. We don’t want to give away too much to our competitors here, but if you would like more information on our manufacturers please contact us directly. We aim to be honest and transparent in everything we do.
All paper used in our hot paper cups and hot paper bowls comes from managed plantations in China. While the material we use for our noodle boxes comes from recycled paper board.
Our paper is whitened using a method called Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF).
Yes we use water based or soy based ink on our products. Furthermore, for those of you looking to stamp our products, we highly recommend using a water based or plant based ink so as not to contaminate the compost. Most ink pads are water based these days.
We use the Flexography printing process. Flexography (often abbreviated to flexo) is a form of printing process which utilizes a flexible relief plate. It is essentially a modern version of letterpress which can be used for printing on almost any type of substrate.
Please contact us with any further questions you have about our products, about sustainable packaging or about Innocent Packaging. To make the dream of a waste free New Zealand a reality, we must educate as many people as possible about the problems and the available solutions. It won’t happen overnight, but with continual awareness and education, a problem solving attitude, and some cooperation amongst industries and individuals step by step we can make it happen.