There’s few better feelings than finally receiving your package in the mail, but in my experience, my enthusiasm slumps whenever I see all the plastic used to pack the products (especially when each product is wrapped in individual plastic packaging.) It’s really disheartening not only to see so much wasted packaging, but also to think about the environmental consequences. While eco-friendly packaging has been on the rise, many companies still use plastic since it’s the cheaper and more convenient option. I was really curious to see what the more sustainable alternatives were and what the costs were compared to the more conventional options to try to see the bigger picture. In my search I found “One Sustainable Planet,” (OSP) a relatively new company that rose from the ashes of the 2019/2020 bushfires with the mission to drive real tangible change and therefore make the planet a little better. As you will see in the following paragraph, this initiative provides concrete information about their practices and ingredients and even education for those who wish to become more eco-friendly but don’t know where to start in terms of composting and recycling, which I thought was a nice addition that fits their ethos perfectly.
The mailer compostable satchel is made from cornstarch and plant-sugar derived biopolymers (Natureworks INGEO PLA and PBAT.) Using cornstarch instead of more conventional materials, such as polyethylene has many environmental benefits, the key ones being that it is a compostable, recyclable, biodegradable and carbon-neutral material since the central material is corn. Because it is biodegradable, it can also be reused as a great fertilizer in agriculture. Next, PLA (polylactic acid) is made using technology to turn greenhouse emissions into PLA. More exactly, Natureworks is a great initiative that aims to turn greenhouse gasses like carbon dioxide into PLA materials (a.k.a Ingeo) which can be used for packaging, coffee capsules, or even electronics. They rethink the entire plastic system, designing a system that explores renewably sourced feedstock and reducing the plastic leakage. Moreover, the company also makes sure the products’ end-of-life phase is just as sustainable by enabling recycling, reusage, and biodegradation. PBAT (polybutylene adipate terephthalate) is another quite famous sustainable material used in compostable packaging, being a fully biodegradable polymer. Therefore, a plus of PBAT is that it is able to break down completely, leaving behind no toxic residues. Even the boxes that these satchels come in are recyclable. All products should degrade within 90-180 days. What’s really great is that OSP offers customers a step-by-step guide on how to compost the mailer. They advise to remove the label and adhesive strip and the cut the satchel into small pieces. It can then be placed into any composting system.
In terms of certifications, the company claims to be certified for composting systems, having been accredited with various certifications. The certifications held are: FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), BPI (Biodegradable Products Institute), OK Compost HOME, compostable A8, Home compostable AS 5810, and 1% for the planet. However, I was not able to find what the company’s scores and evaluation needed for each of these certifications was. Because a lot of companies advertise having many certifications in spite of scoring really low for each of them, this lack of transparency always makes me feel a bit apprehensive.
Something that I really like about how they make their products is the fact that they use eco-friendly, water-based inks for printing, which really goes to show how strong their commitment to sustainability really is. Furthermore, “One Sustainable Planet” is also committed to contributing financially to the conservation of the planet. For example, 1% of all proceeds are donated and for every $100, a tree is planted with the help of the program WithOneSeed, which seeks to improve the lives of subsistence communities, make environments more sustainable, end poverty and hunger, and offer education.
The ingredients are simple: cornstarch, PLA, and PBAT. When it comes to cornstarch and PBAT, while these are indeed environmentally friendly materials, no information is offered about where and how it is sourced. PLA is produced by Natureworks, which as mentioned in a previous paragraph, is made using technology to turn emissions into Ingeo. While the process behind Ingeo seems sustainable and with the wellbeing of the planet in sight, the manufacturing facility is in Blair, Nebraska. The only drawback of this is that “One Sustainable Planet” is an Australian-based company, so manufacturing some of the materials in the U.S. could be a problem in terms of increasing their carbon footprint. So, a bit more transparency regarding the sourcing of the materials and the manufacturing of PLA would increase their credibility in my opinion.
One Sustainable Planet was founded by Dan d’Auvergne-Massie, who claims to have drawn inspiration from the younger generation’s drive to protest and take action in order to help alleviate the climate crisis. The foundation of the company is a strong one based on the belief that the climate crisis requires urgent solutions so that we can replace our destructive practices, such as plastic packaging. The price of these mailer satchels, however, could be perceived as a huge drawback, but from a quick search I learned that eco-friendly satchels are in fact not more expensive. For example, a 100-pack of medium-sized OSP mailers costs $30 ($0.30/unit). Comparably, a conventional 100-pack of plastic mailers costs $20 ($0.20/unit). While there is a price difference, I don’t think that it is big enough to justify using plastic and not making the switch towards a more sustainable option. Although “One Sustainable Planet” puts a lot of emphasis on the sustainable end-of-life system of their products, I would have loved to see even more transparency about the sourcing of the materials and the manufacturing process. Finally, I believe that OSP is overall a bespoken initiative that came up with an effective, creative and sustainable alternative for plastic packaging.