It took a long time to get here, but as we see it, there are no excuses.
We set ourselves the challenge of going plastic free when we first came up with the idea of PULSITOS but we had no idea how difficult it would be.
There's so much noise out there about the "war on plastic" - in the newspapers, on the TV, on podcasts, in magazines...EVERYWHERE!-
We are constantly bombarded with scary statistics and facts about the growing crisis of too much single use plastic being manufactured, used and ultimately discarded. But it's hard for consumers to do much about it, especially when the biggest of big companies keep making more and more of it and there's not much choice to consciously avoid it.
There are, of course, laughable situations. Like this one that I came across the other day after buying some teabags from - the usually - fantastic Spanish supermarket Mercadona.
Check it out: individually plastic wrapped teabags (hopefully the quality of my very old iPhone isn't too bad!).
Then of course, there is the strong-as-ever trend of putting fruit in plastic...
I just don't get how this is ok? The whole point of fruit is that is has a skin for protection. A skin that can be easily washed or even peeled off before eating? Why wrap it in plastic for the sake of display? To keep it "clean"? But plastic bags are everywhere, in pretty much every fruit and veg aisle of a supermarket and there's little to no choice of any alternative. Even paper bags would be better but are pitifully rare.
When we started, in earnest, to plan PULSITOS and write our business plan down, going plastic free was always high on our agenda.
However, as I'm sure you can appreciate, one of the many reasons why plastic is so ubiquitous is because it's cheap; and as a start up business cash is king.
Yet, setting up a business is all about improving things by making a change, right? If everything worked fine then there would be no innovation, no desire to improve things and no one making the world a better place.
When we first started scouting out packaging manufacturers to partner with there wasn't many alternatives to plastic packaging out there - especially for ambient products like ours. There have been options for food service (canteens, street food) for quite some time now but that's because it doesn't need to have the same credentials as it's only used once per person and for a finite period of time - perhaps 5 minutes (the time it would take you to eat those fries or that burger whilst waiting in the queue for a beer at the street food market, sound about right?)? When it comes to ambient products (food that is pre-packed and sits on the shelf) it's a little more complex.
The first option we came across was the below packaging which were mainly paper based but had a foil lining. Great, these were a little more expensive than the plastic options but not crazy. So we went ahead.
However, it became abundantly clear that this was just a stop gap solution and once we'd started to see our products gain some traction in the market we decided to go back to the drawing board and seek a better alternative.
Like crisp packets, the foil lining offered up some serious issues. The fact that the packs were majority paper was great but in order for them to be properly recycled, the process of separating each layer from the foil is just too complex and expensive for many UK recycling plants (which for public waste tend to be run by local authorities who are not incentivized to spend the time or resources on recycling more complex materials), which ultimately means they don't end up being recycled at all and simply sent to landfill.
That wasn't good enough for us.
Our stance is that it's great for companies to invest in their brand and the start of life of their manufacturing process - sourcing organic, fairtrade and exotic raw ingredients to make delicious products - but what about the end of the life of their products?
So we found an alternative manufacturer who had started to make plastic free pouches. However these were only compostable which meant they had to be thrown into an organic waste bin to be properly processed. If they were thrown into a general waste bin, or recycling bin they wouldn't be properly disposed of and simply end up in the wrong place!
So, that wasn't what we were looking for either. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for our customers to dispose of their pack once they're done with the snack.
Finally, we found a manufacturer that could make our packs both compostable and recyclable. This was a massive win as this meant that PULSITOS packs could either be thrown in the paper bin with your old newspapers or in the food bin with your old apple core and be processed equally efficiently.
We were on cloud 9 - we'd found the solution to the problem we saw and it sounded great. What didn't sound great however was the cost.
Ups and downs, left and rights and a few wrong turns later, here we are. We've done it.
We've gone 100% plastic free. To prove it, we only went and got accredited by A Plastic Planet - meaning our plastic free credentials are even easier for consumers to spot!
Guilt free snacking, inside and outside.