After a year in business, we've had time to consider where our waste comes from. Our goal always was and is to become a zero waste business. Having never created an online store or worked behind the scenes before, it soon became clear that there are definite obstacles in achieving our goal of 100% zero waste to landfill.
Our targets and progress so far (first review March 2019 and updated September 2019) are detailed below.
1. Target: Zero material to landfill within our control
We use either re-used packaging from our suppliers or 'new' recycled or sustainable certified cardboard. All parcels are packaged with the least amount of materials whilst keeping your items safe. We currently use newspaper left over from commuting, Jason's Nan (partially completed sudoko may be included) or packaging material received from our suppliers. All of parcels are secured with paper tape which is compostable.
We encourage customers to re-use our packaging materials before recycling/composting.
Outcome: 100% achieved - When we have a bigger premises, we intend to re-use more boxes from suppliers and use less 'new' cardboard.
We formerly hand wrote addresses on our boxes but in order to ensure efficiency and secure a more reliable postage service, we now print our labels at home. The labels are thermally printed which is an eco alternative compared to ink jet however the backing paper on which the labels are printed is non-recyclable. There is currently no other option available for sticky labels. Since this change, we have been collecting all of the label paper and storing it at home whilst we look into a solution. When we did wrote on boxes, this wasn't landfill free either as the Post Office still apply a label and they print receipts on non-recyclable paper.
We have purchased a Terracycle Zero Waste Box for Packaging Supplies as our current option for recycling the sticky paper and any stray plastic tape or other that finds its way into our supply stream. This is an investment of over £100 and the best option currently available.
As part of the Royal Mail parcel process, we have to use black plastic fasteners and paper tags of which some are lined with plastic for weather resistance. They are discarded by Royal Mail (method unknown) but we will be swapping to jute string instead of the black fasteners when we run out.
Outcome: Update 01 July 2019, 100% achieved - We have now purchased a Terracycle zero waste packaging suppliers box which means all plastic packaging materials can be recycled and not sent to landfill.
We only want to stock products that themselves are packaged in material that can be firstly re-used and upcycled, secondly composted and finally recycled. Glass and aluminium are preferred and we try to avoid plastic altogether.
Our entire range of products are 99% free from landfill packaging however we do currently stock some items with non-recyclable plastic. These products are as follows and are minimal in nature, intended to be used for many years and stocked because they offer a better alternative to what is currently mass-consumed.
Plastic at The Kind Store:
Plastic spray or pump heads (long term use) and plastic tube inside the bottle which we have to cut to size, supplied with our amber glass bottles. Update 01 July 2019 - Zero Waste Packing Suppliers box will recycle the tube waste which is cut to size.
Rigid plastic closers to silicone bags. No other alternative.
Plastic lids to Lucky Cloud and Corinne Taylor skincare products - they are in the process of switching to aluminium lids.
Nylon bristles to straw cleaners - Update 01 July 2019 - No longer available. We now stock plant based straw cleaners.
Safety packaging to charcoal water filters.
Plastic tape securing paper label to stain remover stick - we have requested this is glued together instead.
Round plastic label holding together the Kraft packaging for the Organicup packaging - unknown if 'compostable'.
- Plastic within the Zao beauty range. Mascara and eyeliner inner tubes. You will shortly be able to send these back to The Kind Store for recycling.
We have currently halted supplying dymo embossed labels for the amber glass bottles as they too have a non-recyclable plastic backing. We are looking into screen printing our own bottles instead.
Outcome: All products used can be recycled other than those above which equate to 2% of our sales, however the products are not single-use.
Alongside our commitment to send zero waste to landfill, we also aim to avoid any material that is single use.
Our boxes to customers: 70% single use however we encourage our customers to reuse before recycling. When we have a larger premises, we will be able to make better use of the cardboard we do receive.
Our stuffing to customers: 0% single use. We use old newspaper or stuffing from suppliers.
Supplier packaging to us: 70% single use. A number of our suppliers already re-use cardboard from their deliveries.
Products: 1% single use. All of our products are chosen to be re-used and to last longer than one use. The only exception is our chocolate bars which I can easily demolish in one sitting (the wrapping is compostable).
2. Target: Zero packaging to landfill from suppliers
Currently, 95% of our suppliers send parcels completely plastic free. On rare occasions will a supplier use plastic tape for example where they are using up their supply of plastic tape before switching over to paper tape, ofter at our request, or reusing boxes they received which have old plastic tape attached. All products are received in cardboard boxes with paper and card stuffing or eco nuts. No plastic bags or bubble wrap is used.
We will shortly be requesting all our suppliers sign up to our 'Kind Suppliers' agreement which will ensure all packaging is always 100% plastic free which is already requested but we want to make it official, alongside providing information on their packaging and ingredient sourcing etc. We will work with suppliers to reduce single use plastic from the supply chain (see below) which is where it will be more difficult as much of the supply chain are non-customer facing and more reluctant to change.
Due to space, we currently receive too many large boxes and stuffing material from our suppliers be able to reuse them all. We cut down the large ones to use as packaging but can only store so many due to storage issues at home. The remainder are taken to our local council recycling facility.
Outcome: 95% achieved. We expect to increase this to 98% however when suppliers re-use boxes they have been sent with plastic tape and then used paper tape themselves, we are happy with this approach as they have re-used a box. Update 01 July 2019, we have now purchased a Terracycle zero waste packaging suppliers box which means all plastic packaging materials can be recycled.
3. Target: Zero packaging to landfill in the supply chain
Since The Kind Store does not make any items in-house, the supply chain for materials, ingredients etc. are a step removed and therefore difficult to trace. The Kind Store only works with brands that have the same ethos as ourselves and our Meet the Maker blog posts delves into the supply chain and the difficulties surrounding this topic. As we are a small store, and many of our makers are independent one-person businesses, we do not have a large voice but your support means we are growing every single day and able to instigate change one step at a time.
We will shortly be requesting all of our suppliers sign up to our official 'Kind Suppliers' programme which will ensure our suppliers are in line with our Sustainable Business Plan. This is still being drafted and we hope over the next year to work with our makers more closely to be able to demand change in the supply chain.
Outcome: 0% achieved.We are currently unable to verify this but will make a start in 2020 to assess and then request changes.
A final note...As The Kind Store grows, we are looking to be independently tested relating to our waste and emissions. At the moment, the cost of these tests are too expensive.