Unwrapping a Day of Sustainable Packaging
Unwrapping a day of Sustainable Packaging
Last week at the University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, a group of academics, business owners and recycling and waste disposal experts came together for a Future Focus Sustainable Packaging Day. The aim of the full day event was to bring together academics, policy makers, activists, packaging providers, students and businesses from across the UK with the aim of finding a solution to the packaging crisis.
Presenters included three activist organisations:
Beach Guardian, headed up by Emily Stevenson, a Community Interest Company based in Padstow, Cornwall. They organise community beach cleans and conduct educational workshops with schools and other groups in order to connect people with the environment to improve health and wellbeing. Emily is keen to work with businesses across Cornwall to help them take steps to both reduce and offset their plastic packaging.
Final Straw Cornwall, a campaign to rid Cornwall of single use plastic straws and raise awareness of the damage single use plastics are causing to our environment also highlighted the work they have been doing with both local businesses and multinational brands such to eliminate plastic straws from their restaurants and coffee shops.
Sail Against Plastic, a collaborative sailing expedition investigating and unveiling unseen pollution in the Arctic ocean. Made up of a diverse student group of passionate scientists, environmentalists, photographers, artists and videographers from Exeter University, three of the group shared their findings from Arctic shores, which included mirco-plastics, fishing crates from Stornoway and polystyrene. They have made a film about their trip and findings.
The room also heard from representatives at waste management company Biffa and the Cornwall Council Waste & Recycling Community Engagement Team, giving expert insight into what recycling facilities are currently available for Cornish businesses and what they hope to develop going forward.
Finally, delegates saw presentations from three local businesses:
Flexi-hex, producing 100% recyclable and biodegradable cardboard surfboard covers. Founded by life-long surfers Sam and Will Boex, Flexi-hex is an eco-friendly alternative to many of the plastic or polystyrene alternatives currently used to transport surfboards around the globe. Sam also outlined in his presentation that he envisages the compact, lightweight and durable design of the cardboard will be ideal to transport many other fragile products in the future.
Packshare, an app and website that hopes to eliminate the wasteful life-cycle of packaging within small businesses. “Businesses spend huge amounts of money on packaging, carefully pack items for safe transit, send them out to consumers, who promptly tear it off and throw it all away. Packshare enables people to find businesses local to them who can re-use that packaging, easily locate them on a map, and donate it when they’re nearby.”
Kingdom and Sparrow, a Falmouth based design and branding agency specialising in food and drink products. Kingdom and Sparrow recently posted a blog series on sustainability in the food and drink sector, available here as a downloadable PDF. Managing Director, Daniel Gradwell, explained how an environmental and sustainable focus within any design they create for a client is only authentic when it comes from the ethos of the business they are designing for, not when it’s added on as an after-thought.
Academic research underpinned the focus of the day:
Facilitating the event was Nick Lambert from NLA International by steering audience discussion and input. Delegates also heard from Dr. Peter Hopkinson, who presented his academic research on ‘Packaging in a Circular Economy’ and Tevi, ‘the unique business support programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly that builds businesses and enhances the natural environment.’
“I think it’s very important that we’ve got an academic focus to this, rather than just an industry focus. These innovative ideas, this is where the future for packaging is going to be rather than just using what’s currently available.”
– Stuart Woodman, Woodman’s Wild Ale
Businesses will be able to receive a packaging audit to help with their challenge, this will be provided by a sustainable business placement student free of charge. Including a cost analysis element and visual report.
If businesses wish to work on their challenge in more detail they can work together with researchers and academics to look for a circular economy solution based in Cornwall.
Are you looking for support to future-proof your business? Our Future Focus programme could help you grasp new opportunities and ensure your business is ready for the future. Register your interest here.