We want to make sure we are doing all we can to not to contribute to the landfull and in being part of the solution, we have been staunchly committed since day one to leave the planet better than we found it.
Not a day goes by when we aren’t brainstorming how to have a positive impact on our planet and one of the ways we believe we can make the most difference is by removing plastics from our packaging.
When we first started Yum, we were selling it at the local Wanaka market in glass jars and biodegradable bags lined with natural cellophane (plant cellulose). When we got onto supermarket shelves and needed stronger retail packaging that could handle traveling, we chose a stand up pouch, made from number 7 plastics, that was known to be recycled. This changed a couple years ago when the public learned that most our recycling was being exported to China and they were no longer accepting it so it was just being stored in undisclosed locations around the country. The public kept putting out their ‘recycling’ as if it was truly still going to be recycled. Only 9% of plastics are currently recycled, with only a fraction of that being soft plastics or number 7. When we learned this, we immediately began making plans to replace our 1kg plastic pouches with a home compostable option.
Our retail bags have been more of a challenge and we have been waiting to be able to afford to make the switch into a (home) compostable solution for these as well. While we know it is not the perfect solution, in our eyes it is closer to a solution than continuing to offer Yum in a bag that won’t be recycled, just landfull. I was recently in a meeting with a Category Manager of one of the large supermarket chains and was told that they don’t value compostable solutions because there isn’t the infrastructure there yet to support it. You can imagine how this got my hair on end! I responded by saying we are actioning a solution now that is better than continuing to pump plastic into the Earth. He agreed.
Non-plastic packaging is not a cheap option as it adds significant cost to each bag ($.30 a bag to $1.00 a bag). That said, it is something we believe strongly in and thus have set the goal to do this by the end of 2021. So many companies this year have come out with large statements of the changes they will make by 2025 however that seems too far away for us and there is no time like the present to do what we can to make a (positive) difference.
So, that’s where we are now! We have recently engaged with a New Zealand company who has created a stand up pouch that is made from sustainably grown eucalyptus trees, home compostable bio-laminate film and home compostable adhesives. While the cost of each bag is more expensive than buying them from overseas (China is where most other NZ packaging originates), this company has smaller run amounts (MOQ) requirements which will enable us to afford to buy them sooner than later.
With that, we are now working on plans to rebrand Yum and freshen up our design in a way that more clearly reflects Yum and all its goodness. We have chosen to get rid the window in the front as it not only costs more but we believe we can show our transparency in more ways than a window did. This means we are able to use that valuable space on the packaging front to better communicate what is in the bag and we are honestly taking a punt here and hoping people are able to take the visuals we create in other spaces, be it social media, our website, etc., and trust that is the deliciousness in the bag. So, our journey continues! Never an end in this story as we continue to learn and do all we can to lead in our own space and action the importance of doing all we can to look after our Earth.