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Rants & Raves Here Today, Gone Tomorrow – Snact Are Leading the Way in Compostable Packaging

Well, not strictly tomorrow, but someday very soon. Snact are a food company who live by the motto ‘give a sh*t and get sh*t done’.

Their primary aim is to tackle food waste, and in December 2015 they launched their delicious fruit jerky. It’s made only from surplus fruit collected from farmers and pack-houses.

But this wasn’t enough for awesome eco warriors, Michael and Ilana, Snact’s co-founders. The plastic packaging they used for their fruit jerky didn’t sit well with them.

Pre-launch, they had debated at length about packaging. Launching a product in packaging so detrimental to the environment certainly didn’t fit the ethos of their brand. Especially for a product with its roots in tackling food waste.

As food waste was their primary concern, they launched anyway, but with a promise to themselves. The promise that they would, one day, find a more suitable, biodegradable and compostable packaging.

And so, under a year later in September 2016, the compostable Snact packaging was born! It’s now used for all their fruit jerky, as well as their newly launched banana bars.

A Plastic Problem

One of the biggest issues the world is facing is that of sustainability and climate change. We have a growing world population that needs to be fed. We also have a growing problem with plastic waste, just one contributing factor to climate change.

When looking at different packaging options, Snact did a comprehensive review and found nothing that suited them, that was also food safe. The ethos at Snact is to promote sustainability and tackle the cause of waste. This includes packaging waste as well as food waste.

The conventional plastic packaging that wraps our food often can’t be recycled. This is because it’s usually made up of various types of plastic that can’t be separated. The result? Millions of tonnes of plastic waste languishing in landfill or even worse, in the ocean. And as plastic will never completely degrade, it languishes forever.

It’s estimated that only a third of household recyclable plastics from consumer goods are sent to recycling centres each year in the UK. This is in part due to confusion surrounding what plastics can be added to our recycling. This leaves around a million tonnes of recyclable plastic going to landfill or being incinerated, per year in the UK alone. What’s more, it’s predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the world’s oceans than fish.

Tipa, the Sustainable Solution

So that’s why Snact were so determined to find a solution. And find one they did, in the form of packaging from Israeli company TIPA. Tipa packaging is not only biodegradable, it’s compostable, too.

If, like me, you didn’t realise there’s a difference between compostable and biodegradable packaging, there is. Biodegradable means that something will break down with the help of soil microorganisms and biological processes. Compostable means that something is not only biodegradable, but it also results in a substance that can act as a fertilizer.

Tipa packaging is 100% compostable and Snact have proven that it is so, even in residential garden composting conditions. This means that in a normal garden compost heap, Snact packaging will break down and benefit the soil within six months. If you don’t compost at home, you can add it to your regular kerb side food recycling. Or, you can add it to your usual mixed, dry recycling and even if it ends up in landfill, it will eventually break down.

Michael told me how excited they were when they finally cracked “being able to offer convenience, in disposable packaging, without causing harm to the environment.”

They wanted to create packaging inspired by nature, like an orange peel or banana skin. These are natural, safe, and decompose when they’ve done their job. And Tipa does exactly the same.

Teething Problems

Anything innovative has inevitable teething problems along the way. Tipa packaging is completely new, and Snact are the first company in the UK to use it.

Michael told me that there were problems at the beginning with printing the vibrant and colourful Snact branding onto the Tipa packaging. But thanks to a few late nights of deliberating with TIPA and Snact’s co-packers they worked out a solution.

The new packaging was initially expensive. Four to five times more expensive, in fact. However Snact were so adamant to show it could work, they were prepared to take the hit on the margin. Today the difference is marginal, just 1p in fact.

Other Compostable and Biodegradable Packaging

Thankfully, Snact aren’t the only company being so environmentally innovative. Veg Box heroes, Abel and Cole introduced fully compostable bags for their carrots (and now other veg) in March 2016. These veg bags are breathable and so cause less food spoilage, and are made from corn starch.

London Bio Packaging have created two sustainable types of food packaging. Their ‘Sustain’ packaging is made from plant based, renewable sources and is compostable. ‘Revive’ is made from recycled plastics and is recyclable after use.

Even Quality Street wrappers are now made from home-compostable packaging. Nestlé UK use compostable packaging from Futamura, called NatureFlex. Remember that, next time you have a tin!

The Future of Planet-Friendly Packaging

According to Snact, we each create 150kg of plastic waste a year. Fifty percent of that is single use plastic; drinks bottles, food containers, straws, disposable cutlery and the like.

Some climate change scientists say we’re entering the ‘Anthropocene Age’, the so-called Age of the Humans. Our actions are causing irreversible, negative effects on the planet. Plastic pollution, along with soot from power stations, urbanisation and other effects of industrialisation are all part of this change.

It’s clear that we need to act. Simply being conscious of the plastics we consume is a great place to start. Do we really need that straw? How inconvenient is it really to carry a reusable coffee cup, or travel cutlery? Packaging-free shopping is also on the rise, with zero packaging shops opening around the UK.

Consumers and Big Food – Collaborating for Change?

Food manufacturers must do their part too. More companies like Snact need to be offering sustainable choices. As Michael told me, since its launch, Snact have been very open about using Tipa biodegradable packaging. He said,

“Lots of companies have reached out to us, and we’re always happy to help. There needs to be a system change in food packaging. We welcome a collaborative approach, because more companies need to be making the switch.”

Snact have proven that it can be done, and have even reduced their profit margins to make this an accessible product. A lot of effort and funds went into making the sustainable choice the successful choice – and for a relatively small company, this is a big deal.

So, larger food producers and packaging manufacturers, if you’re listening… let Snact set an example to you. We need change. And we need it now.

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