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How we do it: 3 plastic-free packaging supplier sources

How we do it: 3 plastic-free packaging supplier sources

We’re all trying our best as small businesses, and it’s never easy to find the best solution to everything. 

It’s taken up so much time to research, find and source products that are the best available that meet our sustainability commitments. 

As sustainability decisions affect everyone on this planet - I want to share some of the packaging supplies we use here at Once Upon a Tuesday. 

I am sharing these sources in the name of transparency and to help other business owners make sustainable decisions too. (Did you know Volvo designed the three-point seatbelt technology and made it available to all car manufacturers in the name of safety for all?)

April 2022 sees the start of a new Plastic Packaging tax, which is an essential step toward less plastic packaging - of course, it’s far from perfect, as it only taxes plastic packaging that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. That’s too small a number in my opinion, and I know brands can ALL do better than that. But it’s a start, I suppose. 

The official description of the tax is as following: 

This is a new tax that will apply to plastic packaging manufactured in, or imported into the UK, that does not contain at least 30% recycled plastic. Plastic packaging is packaging that is predominantly plastic by weight.

It will not apply to any plastic packaging which contains at least 30% recycled plastic, or any packaging which is not predominantly plastic by weight.

Imported plastic packaging will be liable to the tax, whether the packaging is unfilled or filled.

Nothing we do is perfect and the drive towards better business is always in motion. 

These solutions I’m sharing are not all perfect, but they are the solutions we have chosen for now. They may and likely will change as we learn more.  

3 packaging products we use: 

Plastic-free cardboard envelopes

Card envelopes: 

We send out a lot of envelopes.  They’re required to be extra sturdy for the calendar to arrive beautifully through your door. We’ve tried a few different brands over the last year, and this is our clear winner.

There are quite a few suppliers, but beware that most are not actually recycled. 

We use Lil’ Packaging for all our envelopes. They use 100% recycled material and are 100% recyclable.

According to the company "The Lil envelope is the most eco-friendly, plastic free alternative to a standard bubble envelope or bubble bag mailer and they represent a significant step forward in the removal of single use plastics from ecommerce packaging.

They work really well for us and we like supporting a brand with the same ethics and standards as we have - it’s at our core. 

Plastic-free cardboard packaging tubes

Cardboard tubes

This is the biggest one for me. It was incredibly hard to find the right solution for the year planners that needed to be sent in tubes. Almost every tube uses plastic caps. I hate those plastic caps. I wonder why no one is pushing for recycled plastic free tubes? Surely, this is a gap in the market? Luckily we have found some that work. They cost significantly more, but no plastic. That’s the choice we had to make to stick to our sustainability commitments. 

We source them from Raja Pack. These tubes are made up of 70% recycled card (according to Rajapack) and are fully recyclable. 

Paper tape

There is no need for plastic tape anymore. It results in microplastics entering ecosystems. 

We use self-adhesive Kraft paper tape and it works exactly as we need it to. We source ours from Kite Packaging. 

This, however, is still somewhere we can improve. Sticky tape is not easily recycled as it can clog up the recycling machines. It’s still a better option than plastic - the more commonly used paper tape becomes, the more likely it is that recycling companies will develop machinery that can identify and process it. Once that happens, paper tapes will be left in the mix, with the rest of the paper and card, and will hopefully be recycled in the future.

Water-activated gummed paper tape is currently a better option and something we are looking into to improve our packaging. 

Plastic-free packaging. Young woman holding box of parcels

The biggest challenge: 

Our warehouse and packaging is practically plastic free, however, there is one item that we haven’t found a decent solution for yet - which is the address labels and its backing paper. 

This is not recyclable (as far as I know) and there don’t seem to be any alternative solutions on the market. If you have any suggestions on how to better source, reduce, reuse or recycle this sticker backing paper - please please let us know! 

Have you got any other great suggestions for packaging, please share them with us.