Our drive for improving the sustainability of product packaging

Our drive for improving the sustainability of product packaging

Environmentally sustainable packaging runs through our DNA. It is at the core of our belief in what we are doing and how consumers should be able to experience and enjoy our products.
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Environmentally sustainable packaging runs through our DNA. It is at the core of our belief in what we are doing and how consumers should be able to experience and enjoy our products.

Sustainable packaging is about more than just recycling. It starts early in the product development pipeline and then continues to evolve as sustainable packaging options develop. How we Reduce or change the packaging material we use, is it possible to Reuse materials or allow consumers to reuse materials with our products, then finally how do we help our consumers Recycle once the packaging is no longer required.

Whilst our range of sustainable products, such as plant waste derived fertilisers or plastic-free netting and frost fleece may be what is first thought of when considering Andermatt’s sustainability, this drive to improve our sustainability runs through the packaging we use for those products as well. We spend the same amount of effort deciding how best to package our products sustainably, as we do in the development of what is within that sustainable packaging. As a result, Andermatt products are packaged in a range of recycled, recyclable, biodegradable packaging materials as we aim to minimise our use of single-use petroleum-derived plastics.

A challenge faced by manufacturers, is however that packaging needs to be functional. The primary role of packaging is to get an item to a user and safely contain that product until it has been used. Functionality of the packaging should not be compromised simply to allow it to be claimed to be more sustainable.

How sustainable is our packaging?

To understand how sustainable packaging is, the entire lifecycle of that packaging should be considered. What material is it sourced from, where and how it is manufactured, how much is used in the packaging of the item and then what is able to happen to it once its use to contain that item has been completed. All of the various points along this can be analysed and options for improving the sustainability of that packaging item potentially improved: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Step 1: Reduce

Reducing the amount of packaging is one of the most impactful ways to improve packaging sustainability. Using less material means less has to be manufactured.

There are various examples of where single use plastic is commonly used in packaging. The initial step to improving the sustainability of packaging is to identify where these are not required, for example no lamination of packaging and use of jute twine instead of plastic thread.

Case Study: Asian hornet trap ferrules

The amount of packaging material used for our wasp ferrules has been minimised by simply using jute twine to attach the four ferrules together and then attach to a non-laminated card tag which is still able to contain all of the product instructions, barcode for retailers and recycling logo information.

Then through the supply chain there are other advantages if this reduction in volume of packaging has come about as a result of packaging design, with less energy required to store smaller units and to transport them in the supply chain. 

Step 2: Replace

Once the amount of packaging material has been reduced it may be possible to replace certain components with more sustainable alternatives. For example polyethylene (PE) plastic lined pouches offer protection from moisture absorption and airflow. This however can be replaced with polylactic acid (PLA) lined pouches. Polylactic acid is a polymer with similar properties to PE helping to protect the item within the packaging, however it is derived from plant starch not petroleum and completely biodegrades after disposal.

Case Study: Biochar with added Rootiliser

A dry powder, which when added to soil readily absorbs and holds moisture, biochar therefore needs a packaging material which prevents it absorbing moisture in the environment around it whilst sitting on a shelf.  The PLA-lined pouches do exactly that, as a plastic PE pouch would do.

 Step 3: Reuse  

Before reaching the end of life of a piece of packaging material, it should be considered if it could be used for something else, such as refilling. This is a challenge for our packaging solutions, we are however able to design how our products are used to allow reuse of other materials with them.

Case study: Bulk supply to allotment societies

The amount of packaging material used can be reduced along with supporting our consumers to reuse other packaging by supplying some products in bulk high volumes, for example to allotment societies and clubs for them to then have their members decant what is required into smaller reused bottles or containers rather than each having their own separate small bottle to then have to dispose of.


Case study: Asian Hornet Trap

We have designed our Asian Hornet Traps to be used with a standard 2L fizzy drink bottle. We could have sourced a plastic container to use as part of the trap, but instead it is more sustainable to 3D print the complicated lid and platform and allow the user to reuse any empty fizzy drink bottle. This has the added advantage that when the reused bottle gets dirty, it can be replaced within another fizzy drink bottle without the need to buy a completely new asian hornet trap.

Step 4: Recycle

The key to recycling is providing the consumer information to make a quick decision about how best to deal with a material, and whether/how it can be recycled. To support this Andermatt are part of the OPRL scheme which their icons clearly visible on our Home & Garden products.  Recycling is not however always the best option. An example would be whether it is better to have a plastic pouch which was recyclable but may not be recycled by the consumer, or a non-recyclable compostable PLA-lined pouch which has been made completely from plants and not petroleum.

Case study: GroPure

A liquid NPK fertiliser which is itself a sustainable product being manufactured from a plant waste stream. The product however requires to be packaged in a plastic bottle. The bottles used for GroPure however are not only 100% recyclable, but are made from 100% post-consumer recycled material. This does however mean that the bottles are not pure white, and because of batch variation in source materials the shade of the bottle GroPure is contained in can vary which without education can result in some queries, but this one of the costs of sourcing recycled packaging.


Case study: EWE STOP RUST Anti-seize tool grease

Packaged in an aluminium tin, the ultimate in forever recyclable packaging. The EWE STOP RUST range has the added recycling credential of being made from sheep fleece, a buy-product of the lamb meat industry. With the high price for sheering a sheep compared to the value the fleece is sold for, EWE STOP RUST not only has recyclable packaging, but also provides another use for sheep fleece, sadly undervalued byproduct.

Source of the packaging material – do the raw ingredients come from a virgin source or are they part of a recycling stream having already been used for something else.

Where and how is it manufactured – are the production processes efficient or does the manufacturing company have an environmental offsetting scheme. Is the packaging material manufactured close to the facility where it is used to package the final product.  

How much packaging is used – can the design of the packaging be adapted to use less packaging material.

What can be done to the packaging material once it has completed its role – can it be recycled and is it compostable or biodegradable.

Our range of sustainable packaging includes paper and card, 30% recycled HDPE and 100% recycled HDPE all of which are recyclable. We also use some mixed materials such as our pouches which are paper lined with PLA (polylactic acid), which are not recyclable but instead compostable. All of these sustainable packaging options are designed to combine environmental benefits whilst maintaining packaging performance.

Andermatt and the OPRL (On Pack Recycling Logo) Scheme

Andermatt joined the OPRL scheme back in 2017, the same year as the UK subsiduary of the Andermatt Group (LINK TO andermatt.com) was setup. The scheme is commonly recognised by consumers across a range of uses from grocery shopping to clothing. Its simple to understand icons and clearly defined calls to action mean that all packaging for the the Andermatt Home & Garden products can easily be identified as how to be dealt with at the point of disposal. This ease of understanding on how to dispose of the packaging removes a barrier and makes the consumer more likely to carry out a more sustainable option.   


Beyond simply the sustainable packaging.....

Another feature of our sustainable packaging isn’t just what a products packaging is made from, but how that packaging helps the entire supply chain get that product from Andermatt and our retail partners to the consumer. We have designed many of our products packaging to fit within a Royal Mail large letter, so not only reducing the amount of packaging needed and energy required to deliver the item, but also help keep shipping costs down for the consumer. For larger items where this is not possible, we work with DPD for our deliveries ensuring our transport to customers is carried out by a carbon neutral company.   


What is a packaging material?

Packaging material is any material which is used as part of a product to pack, store, ship or shelve that product. This can range from the container the product is contained within, its label, the shipping box it is sent to the consumer and the tape used to seal that box.

What is sustainable packaging?

Sustainable packaging is the term for packaging which minimises the effect of its use on the environment. This can be done in various ways, either with the type of material used, the source of that material, how the packaging material is used, or options for the packaging material once its job of containing the product is complete.

What are different types of sustainable packaging?

What is sustainable packaging can have varying answers depending on where the line is drawn for the definition. It could be argued that using 10g of plastic to package an item is more sustainable than using 20g. Whilst reducing the volume used may be more sustainable, others would argue that using any material derived from petroleum is not sustainable. What is more commonly seen as sustainable types of packaging are those which can at least be recycled, to allow them to become part of a circular economy.

Can all packaging be sustainable?

Not all packaging is sustainable, but every company can have an approach to improving the sustainability of its packaging. Single use, non-recyclable plastic is for example not sustainable. A company can however improve its sustainability by having a plan to reduce the amount of this material which is used to package an item.

What is sustainable packaging design?

Design of sustainable packaging is beyond just the material which the products packaging is made from. It goes back to the design stage of the packaging and starts with the position of can the amount of packaging needed be reduced followed by can the type of packaging used be changed.  

Are there alternatives to single use plastic packaging?

Plastic has some characteristics which are ideal for packaging products. It is flexible, mouldable, colourable, long-lasting, readily available and cheap, These are the reasons  is has been so heavily relied upon as a packaging material. A drive however to find alternatives to single use plastics, has meant that more sustainable options are being increasingly used be it either basic materials such as paper and card, or higher technology alternatives such as PLA.    

Do we still need to use single plastic packaging?

The short answer is yes, and this is also the case at Andermatt. The primary role of packaging is to ensure safe storage of the contained product and there are some cases where plastic is still required for this. There are some cases where we legally have to put our products within certain grades of plastic containers. There are other examples however where the physical characteristics of plastic containers are needed, but we can improve the sustainability of these by using 100% recycled HDPE or supporting consumers to recycle once used with our OPRL affiliation.