Recently, we released the 8 areas of sustainability we’re focusing on as we work on being the most responsible versions of ourselves. As part of our roadmap, one of the areas we have chosen to focus on is circularity.
What is circularity?
The way many businesses operate in today’s economy is by using a linear model that takes, makes, and creates waste. Materials are extracted for single-use as a product, and then discarded as waste.
An alternative to this is the circular economy. It’s based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.
A circular economy follows the ‘3R’ approach, which is also known as reducing reusing and recycling. This means reducing the use of resources, maximizing the reusing of products and parts and raw materials are reused or recycled to a high standard.
A linear versus circular model
What does circularity mean to us as a business?
At noissue, our materials play a pivotal part in designing for circularity. We choose materials that can be part of a circular system rather than ending up in landfill. This is part of our strategy to move away from single use, keep materials in use and ensure circular end of life solutions are available.
We have three frameworks our products and materials fall into, recycled, compostable, and reusable. Some of our products fit within more than one framework. For example, the noissue Kraft Mailer fits within 2/3 as they are made from 100% recycled materials and are compostable!
Working towards a circular economy helps us work towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: responsible consumption and production.
Here's a bit more information about our three sustainable packaging frameworks.
Our compostable product range
What it means: Compostable packaging is typically made from a number of renewable plant-based materials and/or bio-polymers. To be certified home compostable, a product must break down in home compost within 180 days and 90 days in commercial composting conditions.
Why it is awesome: Cardboard and paper products are a great addition to the backyard compost as it helps with the carbon-nitrogen ratio. Easily broken down in a compost, these products also tend to have chemical compounds removed from the product.
Ensuring success: Sometimes people don’t notice that something is compostable, meaning it can sometimes end up in the landfill. If you don’t have a home compost, you can look at local options for communal compost sites, or somewhere you can drop off items for commercial composting.
Our recycled product range
What it means: Recycled packaging is made from previously used plastic products, including single use bags, bottles and other common plastic items. The plastic is processed at a recycling facility and put back into circulation, thus doubling its lifespan.
Why it is awesome: Recycling reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators - it conserves natural resources and prevents pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials. Basically instead of making something new - we’re taking something already in circulation to give it a second life!
Ensuring success: While operating and maintaining recycling plants can often be a bit more costly, you can support by choosing products made from recycled materials. When you're done with these products, make sure you recycle them in their appropriate categories e.g. plastics, aluminum, glass, paper etc. so it goes to the right plant and doesn't end up in the landfill.
Our reusable product range
What it means: Reusable packaging is packaging that has a built-in second (and possibly third, fourth, etc) use. While most packaging is typically single use, and recycled after it accomplishes its primary goal, reusable packaging can be used multiple times for a variety of functions.
Why it is awesome: When an item of packaging is used for a second time after its initial use, that doubles the utility of the packaging, and prevents another single-use piece of packaging from being used.
Ensuring success: In order for reusable packaging to have its desired impact, it has to be used more than once. Simply put, if a reusable bag is immediately discarded, it loses any potential positive benefits it might have had. To combat this, companies should focus on educating their customers on their packaging and how to make the most out of it.
Find out more about our frameworks here.
Our made-to-order model and low Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs) are another way we help design out waste by making sure you’re not buying more than you need and we’re not over producing.
Our goals and vision for the future
While our materials and frameworks play a big part in our mission to be a 100% circular designed business, we know it extends beyond this. Circularity also means rethinking the business model, from our pillars of design including quality and product stewardship and behavioural change and education. Here are some commitments we are making this year.
What we are continuing to work on:
- We are committed to making end of life guidelines for all products as accessible as possible. Although we can't control what happens to our packaging at the end of life, we can make it as easy as possible for our end users to do the right thing through thoughtful clear communication and education.
- As waste happens at the design stage, we’re committed to reviewing our designing process, product development and logistics.
- Exploring incentivising you, our customers, to incentivise your customers to reuse, recycle & compost.
- Explore collaborating with composting and recycling partners to ensure end of life options are more readily available and furthering efforts to educate on end of life solutions.
- Continuing R&D on sustainable and lower impact materials that fit within our frameworks.
- Work on what we can do to regenerate natural systems.
- Working on localising our supply chain to be closer to our customers.
- Eliminating all unnecessary plastic has been part of our DNA since the beginning, we want to ensure we continue to work on eliminating all plastic from distribution as well as our packaging.
We hope our journey inspires you to set your own goals to work towards circularity. Positive change stems from thoughtful design, and as business owners, designers and makers we all play an important role in this transition. While we have made a lot of progress, we know we have challenges ahead of us.
We believe we have a role to play in engaging our community on circularity. As part of this, we asked some of our community what circularity means to them, stay tuned for our resource which highlights how our community and leaders in this space are putting circularity into practice.