When we set about creating Vegan Futures it was important to us that we found partners who cared about protecting the environment.
As soon as we started speaking to London Bio Packaging we knew that they were a perfect fit and we wanted to share their story with you guys.
- How was London Bio Packaging born?
A guy called Marcus Hill started London Bio Packaging in 2005. He had completed a MSc in Sustainability and Business and he was concerned about the amount of packaging he found himself throwing away after a trip to the supermarket. So he set about researching biodegradable and recycled plastic packaging and started the business from his parent’s garden shed.
- Have you seen a rise recently in more people purchasing environmentally responsible / ‘eco’ friendly packaging since you started in 2005?
Yes. ‘Sustainable packaging’ has gone from being a ‘novelty’ idea or a product that was ‘on-trend’ before the recession to now being considered as the ‘norm’ or expected. These days, more and more consumers expect responsibly sourced products and they at least expect to see the recycling logo at the bottom of their packaging.
- Why did you want to partner with Vegan Futures?
Vegan Futures has the power to tap into an increasingly environmentally conscious population to help solve a global environmental problem. London Bio Packaging set out help solve this problem in 2005. Our customers are inherently interested in both food and the environment, so being able to cross-educate and promote your message in this way is valuable to us and our brand.
- A vegan diet is one of the easiest ways for people to reduce their personal carbon footprint. What do you think are the biggest barriers to people adopting a vegan way of life?
Being the only person at the table who doesn’t eat meat or dairy could potentially make you feel alienated, especially if people constantly question your decisions or if the host or the restaurant can’t cater for you. Another barrier could be the cost of suitable alternatives e.g. soya and almond milk are more expensive than milk. Also, it’s probably very difficult to stick to the habit of being rigorous about checking labels and asking questions. Not sure how easy it would be to refuse a jaffa cake or a custard cream (they are rife in our office!)
- We love that your Sustain™ packaging is made entirely from plants and that your Revive™ packaging is made from recycled materials such as plastic bottles. Are the people who invented these types of packaging environmental campaigners/activists?
We can’t speak on their behalf but generally speaking, the people who manufacture these products are responding to consumer demand as well as the oil price which (until now) has been on the rise. When the oil price is high it makes it more expensive to manufacture ‘virgin’ plastic so it’s in their interest to engage with different materials including reused materials.
- As a company do you have a list of environmental blogs/websites your regularly look through?
Chartered Institute of Waste Management
Street Food News
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
The Great Recovery
- Have you seen documentaries like The Story of Stuff and Tapped that provide information about how certain packaging is causing catastrophic damage to the environment?
Yes. We all know the oil industry is helping accelerate climate change and the concept and marketing behind bottled water is definitely questionable.
Packaging can escape conventional waste streams and end up in the wrong place, damaging the environment. The plastic in our oceans harms wildlife, is thought to be toxic and scientists are still researching how those toxins might be moving up the food chain, damaging human health. Unfortunately, change isn’t that straightforward. Our economy is dependent on oil (plastic), the convenience of fast, packaged food and our society is hell-bent on buying more and more ‘stuff’.
Food waste is a global issue that needs tackling especially as there are 800 million people in the world who don’t have enough food. That’s where packaging can help solve an environmental problem. Packaging prolongs the life of food, thereby reducing waste. It is also a useful marketing tool for those in the foodservice industry. Transparent and well branded packaging, sells food.
So, there is no quick solution. If you don’t use packaging, you waste food. If you do use packaging, you have to be careful about how you dispose of it. A good start is if it’s made of a material for which there is a waste stream readily available and to continually encourage behavior change (via legislation and education) to adopt a more responsible and ‘circular’ approach to their consumerism.
- Can you see a link between environmentally sustainable and the vegan lifestyle?
Absolutely. The environmental and human health argument for following a vegan lifestyle completely stacks up when considering a more sustainable future.
- Plastic non recyclable packing is prevalent in supermarkets. Do you see supermarkets and food manufacturers starting to shift to bio-degradable packaging?
Supermarkets and food manufacturers will start to take more action on their packaging, especially because of all the food waste they generate. There is research being undertaken with one supermarket into bioplastic made from crop-waste. Last year, the government set out requirements for any organisations over a certain size to be more responsible with the packaging they handle. The producer responsibility requirements are intended to help organisations reduce packaging, reduce how much of it goes to landfill and increase the amount of it that is recycled and recovered.
The bioplastic/biodegradable packaging industry is young compared to the petroleum-based plastic industry, which means it is relatively expensive and research is ongoing into how to manufacture the most suitable material. Bioplastic does not cope well with high temperatures and is not as rigid as rPET, so until a biodegradable material which can match many of the properties of conventional plastic (including price) is available, it’s unlikely there will be any large scale or quick shifts to biodegradable packaging. As you know, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
- Landfill is a huge environmental problem we are leaving for future generations. Why do you think this isn’t really a political issue which people are concerned about?
Perhaps because they don’t know about it. The problem isn’t marketed or communicated to the general public via dedicated campaigning showing the scale of the problem. Householders and businesses want to recycle but who knows if they are thinking particularly about landfill when they are separating their waste. Perhaps it isn’t such a political issue because waste is increasingly being considered as a ‘resource’ (e.g. recycling industry, composting industry, agricultural industry, energy from waste). This is a positive thing because materials are far more likely to be recovered if they are valued as a ‘resource’ and not just seen as ‘waste’.
- What are your hopes for London Bio Packaging in the future?
That is a secret! Watch this space ☺