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When the Global Good Awards launched the #PointlessPlastics campaign we did so with a stated commitment to ‘accentuate the positive’. Rather than simply naming-and-shaming products and businesses that use plastic unnecessarily, #PointlessPlastics is about putting the spotlight onto the businesses that are already leading the march and reducing the use of unnecessary plastics.
Our #PointlessPlastics Heroes show that there are great alternatives out there, and that a commitment to a more sustainable approach is no barrier to business success – it’s a selling-point.
This week we caught up with Ilana Taub, co-founder of Snact, a food brand with a mission to make snacks sustainable…
What is Snact all about?
“We are a food-brand and social-enterprise that makes healthy and delicious snacks from surplus produce to tackle food waste, and we also pack them in compostable packaging to tackle plastic waste.
How exactly have you gone about tackling food waste and packaging, to make snacking sustainable?
“At present we have two product ranges.
Our fruit jerky predominantly tackles surplus apples from British farmers. We use produce that they would not be able to sell, usually because of weather events like early frost, or sometimes the apples might be too big, or too small, or there simply might be too many.
For the Snact banana bars we work with the supply chain of some of the larger retailers rescuing bananas from pack-houses and ripening centres. The bananas would otherwise get discarded because they are too ripe for that stage in the supply chain – even though they are not overripe. We developed the product after discovering that 1.4 million bananas go to waste every single day in the UK. For food to be shipped all across the world and then go to waste here really is crazy!
With the packaging, we didn’t want to tackle one source of waste and then create another, so we decided very early on that our packaging should be sustainable. There were various different options that were available, though not all genuinely offering a sustainable solution… Our packaging is in line with our values because it’s fully compostable. You can put it in your home or council compost and it will decompose within 6 months and return to soil as a fertiliser.
The packaging was developed by a company called TIPA, who we partnered with. We needed something that had the same properties as food safe plastics – in terms of durability, flexibility and ability to seal, for example. With the compostable packaging we found something that does all that, but which can be returned back to nature after it is used, just like a fruit peel!
How do you measure success at Snact?
“Well in terms of success solely as a food brand there’s clearly a market for Snact products. We are stocked by Odaco, Planet Organic, Selfridges, amongst others. Plus we also sell through schools, offices, and so on, through Compass – the largest contract caterer in the UK.
But honestly, we didn’t create Snact just to be another food brand. We set out to create products that tackle food waste and plastic waste because we want to inspire other people to act: Whether it’s about food environmental issues, or other sustainability issues more broadly, we want people to get motivated and get involved.
So Snact is more than just a snack or a food brand, we want it to be a movement. We want it to inspire all kinds of people to have a more sustainable lifestyle. And we have seen that! Since seeing Snact using the TIPA packaging technology we have had a load of companies get in touch to find out how we did what we did. It’s been great, as some have now gone ahead and started to use the TIPA technology in their own products!
Also, nowadays we have big companies calling us and saying “Can you take 20 tonnes of this fruit or 20 tonnes of that?”, which is an achievement we can be proud of. We’ve become a credible avenue for their businesses to deal with what would become their waste. We’ve added a new solution into the system – something that wasn’t there before and it is allowing businesses to reduce their own waste and associated costs.
Finally, what’s your advice to other other businesses that might be looking at more environmentally friendly ways to do business?
It really is a case of “Do It”… And I know that’s a cliche, but the reason I’m saying that is because there is always a reason to delay: because the technology or time does not seem perfect; because you do not have all the answers… But – especially if you’re doing something that someone has not done before – that is always going to be the case. So it is only by doing it that you’ll really find out what needs to be done!
Also, do your research. We thought a ‘green’ packaging option would add a lot to our cost…
The cost difference of using fully compostable packaging is 1p per unit! So we can justify that cost even at our relatively smaller-scale of production… For larger-scale production the unit cost would be even less: Price is not a good justification for using plastic packaging when there are perfectly good alternatives!
The plastic packaging that is conventionally used to wrap our food is often made of a composite of different types of plastic. These composites cannot be separated after use, meaning that they cannot be recycled.
In contrast, the packaging used for Snact products is fully compostable. It can be added to any compost heap or green waste collection, and it will decompose to become a fertiliser for the soil – just like a fruit peel does. You can find out more about the qualities of the TIPA packaging used for Snact products, here
If you know a business or person that is leading the way and offering tangible solutions and alternatives to the plastic problem please give them a #PointlessPlastics #PositiveChange tweet!
Join us at the 2018 GGA Ceremony: To celebrate excellence in social impact and sustainability (and sample our vegan wines!)
You don’t have to be an entrant to come along to the GGA ceremony! If you’re involved in social impact or sustainability, the GGA is the place to be! From our ‘eco-tie’ dress code, to our completely vegan menu, we aim to set the standard for sustainable events, and we want to share our learnings with you. Find out more about the 2018 ceremony, here>>