When businesses get sustainable packaging right, customers and clients take notice. That has certainly been the case with Henschke Winery, KeepCup and Modern Dental.
These businesses, and many others, are setting the new standard for sustainable packaging excellence in Australia, implementing innovative solutions to reduce their impact on the environment and improve business outcomes.
So, what is sustainable packaging?
Sustainable packaging, at its most simple, is all about businesses improving their approach to packaging waste to reduce the environmental impact of it throughout its life cycle. This means considering how it’s designed, manufactured and delivered as well as whether the materials are recyclable, helping consumers to know what to do with it.
The result? Better outcomes for the environment, happier customers and often a boost to a brand’s reputation and bottom line.
Not to mention helping Australia reach its 2025 National Packaging Targets, including to make all packaging 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable.
Here’s how three businesses have changed their packaging for good.
Ranked in the Top 20 of Drinks International’s World’s Most Admired Wine Brands 2020, Henschke is a name synonymous with Australia’s highest quality of wines. Over six generations, Henschke Winery has crafted drops like the famous Hill of Grace Shiraz from its vineyards in Eden Valley, South Australia.
“As a family business, you tend to have quite strong family values,” Stephen Henschke tells us. “Because the winery has been a farm as well as a winery over that period of time, it’s quite natural to understand what recycling is all about. We’ve been quite organic and biodynamic with our vineyard management, as well.”
WATCH: How Henschke made its luxury packaging more sustainable. Post continues after video.
Stephen recalls how his father used cardboard boxes made from recycled papers to package his first single vineyard table wines – way back in the 1950s. Since then, Henschke has made plenty of other packaging changes, like switching from cork to glass bottle closures.
Nowadays, Henschke uses recycled materials where possible in its packaging, with all materials either reusable or easily recyclable. They’ve done so with the help of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), a co-regulatory organisation that supports the ambition of consumers, industry and government to build a sustainable national packaging ecosystem.
“As a sustainable company though, we’ve already achieved quite a lot in terms of our packaging,” Hackett shares. “So if any other smaller businesses like us are looking at being involved in APCO or trying to be more sustainable in their packaging, they’re definitely going to benefit from the support they get from the organisation.”
If you’re drinking out of a KeepCup right now, you can thank co-founders and siblings Abigail and Jamie Forsyth. Back in 2009, the Melbourne café owners designed and started selling the world’s first barista standard reusable cups as a way to combat the unnecessary waste caused by single-use non-recyclable coffee cups lined with polyethylene.
Twelve years later, KeepCup is available in more than 75 countries around the world.
“Reducing unnecessary waste is why we’re in business,” says Abigail Forsyth, KeepCup Co-Founder and Managing Director. “Since the very beginning, we’ve partnered with our local manufacturers and designers to ensure our packaging protects the product, is modular, uses minimal material, can be reused and is recyclable.”
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KeepCup, an APCO member like Henschke, has made changes across its supply chains and continues to strive for improvements. One such example is switching out shrink wrap for reusable pallet straps.
Change doesn’t have to happen in one broad sweep. Abigail reminds us it’s an ongoing process, even for businesses already on the right path.
“We are not perfect. We would encourage other businesses to prioritise sustainability and to just make a start,” she says. “Carefully consider design and innovation to ensure products are fit for purpose. Educate customers accurately and thoroughly on the business’ sustainable goals and practises, wins and challenges – bringing consumers along on the environmental impact journey.”
James Squirrell is the CEO of Modern Dental Pacific, one of the leading dental laboratory groups in the country. Modern Dental supplies crowns, splints, mouthguards, dentures and other custom-made medical devices to dentists, ensuring all products are packaged carefully.
Modern Dental’s sustainability journey was born out of a desire to lead the way and not get left behind.
“I think it’s important that a business is in tune with what our customers want and what community and society wants,” he says. “We want to be a catalyst for that change, we don’t want to be following everybody else. And I think it helps us to create relationships with suppliers that have a similar mindset and a similar attitude.”
WATCH: Modern Dental’s path to sustainability. Post continues after video.
Working with APCO has helped Modern Dental walk the talk and be more accountable for the changes they’re making. He notes that some changes have resulted in cost savings, while others are more of an investment for the future.
“We’ve seen a big reduction in the amount of packaging that we generate and that’s been in line with the targets that we’ve set for ourselves,” he explains. “We’ve revisited nearly all of the different components of packaging that we used and either changed the suppliers or changed the types of products that we’re buying and using. So there’s a very tangible benefit that we’ve seen already.”
On sustainability, he adds: “It’s not just a business issue, it’s a whole of society thing. Our staff members, our customers, their customers, they all care about these sorts of issues. And I think the APCO journey just helps us to involve people and really engage in broader conversations other than just, what are we going to sell you and how much are we going to sell it to you for.”
This content is brought to you by Kochie’s Business Builders in partnership with APCO.
Feature image: KeepCup