Better for the planet: NZ packaging firm aims to help beauty brands cut down ‘heaps’ of waste driven by e-commerce boom

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

The Better Packaging Co. is eyeing growth in the beauty industry as companies face an acceleration in e-commerce. ©Better Packaging Co.
The Better Packaging Co. is eyeing growth in the beauty industry as companies face an acceleration in e-commerce. ©Better Packaging Co.

Related tags Packaging eco-friendly e-commerce

New Zealand-based company The Better Packaging Co. is eyeing growth in the beauty industry as companies face an acceleration in e-commerce — and plastic waste generation – in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

The Better Packaging Co. is a sustainable packaging company founded by Rebecca Percasky and Kate Bezar that helps companies reduce their reliance on plastic with its range of sustainable packaging.

The firm has two main product lines, the first is the comPOST range that is certified AS 5810-2010 for Home Composting.

This means the packaging can be broken down in a home compost within 180 days and is worm friendly.

“It has all the properties of plastic – tough, durable, waterproof... But it will disappear within weeks. It’s a completely sustainable alternative.”

It also offers ØPACKS, a range of products made from stone and recycled resin which is produced without water and can be easily recycled.

Percasky and Bezar founded the company in 2018 after witnessing first-hand how much plastic waste the e-commerce industry generates.

“We were involved with a company that facilitated millions of e-commerce orders and we saw how quickly e-commerce was growing and with that growth, there was an extraordinary amount of additional packaging waste,” ​said Percasky.

Percasky estimated there are about 65 billion parcels sent worldwide every year.

"The numbers are staggering. E-commerce is growing about 50% every year and this great booming industry is creating a whole heap of additional waste."

Beauty companies have ‘a lot of work to do’ in packaging

The company serves companies from several industries, including beauty and personal care.

“The beauty industry is a fast-growing industry for us, especially since we launched our compostable bubble mailers because it can protect items in transit. We've been pleasantly surprised by the uptake by the beauty industry. It hasn't been our core focus, but we have a number of really well-known brands using our products,” ​said Percasky.

These compostable bubble mailers are made up of an outer layer consisting of FSC recycled paper and a commercially compostable padded interior.

Percasky expects the growth to accelerate with the on-going novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“With people being forced to stay home, online shopping has become a lot more convenient way to get what you need, and I think beauty products are a really easy thing to buy online.”

The company has already worked with several beauty brands such as LOLI Beauty, a US-based company that advocates environmentally friendly operations and using high quality, responsibly sourced food-grade ingredients.

“The Better Packaging Co. supplies LOLI Beauty with its compostable bubble mailers… This solution has enabled LOLI to go plastic negative as the beauty brand cleans up 2lbs of plastic for every product purchased and are also carbon neutral,” ​said Percasky.

For a small to medium-sized company like LOLI, the cost of switching to sustainable courier packaging is cost comparable, said Percasky.

“We try to really keep our prices down so its accessible and affordable to businesses of all sizes.”

On the other hand, larger businesses will see bigger differences in cost.

“The larger the company gets, the more the cost becomes an issue because these larger merchants have the buying power to buy on scale. The difference is anywhere from twice as much to maybe three times as much depending on the product,” ​said Percasky.

She added that the benefits of sustainable packaging ultimately outweighed the extra costs.

“Cost does become a factor, but I think there's increasing pressure on brands to offer sustainable options. The beauty industry has a lot of work to do in the packaging space from a sustainability from the perspective.”

One benefit of its products is that the material used is so similar to plastic, companies do not need to change the way they operate, said Percasky.

“The amazing thing about our products is that it is a direct replica of plastic. There are as strong, durable, tough with amazing end of life options. or a brand wanting to make the switch, it’s a really easy, quick and sustainable switch they can make. They don't need to change any of their processes. It's a big win for a lot of companies.”

Closing the loop

The Better Packaging Co. is currently piloting its SWOP Packs, a reusable mailer made from recycled PET drink bottles that are meant to be collected and re-used over and over again.

“When we first started the business, we started looking into reusable courier satchel, it's been a part of our strategy the whole time we've been in business,” ​said Percasky

However, the firm struggled to find the right sustainable material for this product.

“We've done some modelling on the return rate that we might get on a reusable courier satchel and best-case scenario we'd probably get eight out of 10 back. That’s only four or five uses even though they can be reused hundreds of times. So, it was about finding a really fine balance between finding a material that is durable and tough enough that it can be used multiple times but also sustainable,” ​said Percasky.

Percasky said the company was aiming to launch the product in about six months’ time and is hoping to target companies that offer subscription services.

“There are huge opportunities with subscription models so that’s where we will probably start, [SWOP Packs] would be perfect for that.”

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