Like many publishers, we have wanted to move towards more sustainable packaging for our cards for a long time. We introduced our 100% recycled Kraft envelopes a few years ago, but wanted to improve our sustainability around cello bag use. We looked at all sorts of solutions like stickers, clasps, paper bands and folded paper corners, but none of them were quite right for us. We thought a lot about ‘going naked’, selling our cards unwrapped. This to us would be the most appealing option, but many of the customers we have discussed this with have had understandable reservations. Their concern is that the cards could be damaged in storage or through being handled in the shop. This would of course lead to an environmentally unfriendly, and costly, waste. Our trade customers need to feel confident in the quality of our product, and that includes the cards being handled in the shops. Offering options of wrapped or unwrapped is also financially and practically unsustainable. Many of us publishers have had to choose between unwrapping already wrapped cards or face losing business. We decided not to go down the unwrapping road, it would waste plastic, time, and money and is not helping the environment in any way.
After a lot of research and discussing the options, we have found a compromise we think will work for us, for most of our customers, and for the environment too. We are moving to a more sustainable packaging solution, NATIVIA® PLA bioplastic cello bags, which will help protect our cards as well as having a less damaging impact on the environment. PLA bioplastics are made from natural, renewable resources such as sugar, corn or other vegetable starches. These biodegradable bags are more than 80% bio based, certified industrially compostable where they break down to water, CO2 and humus, a soil nutrient. They can also be recycled as PLA or incinerated. The bags generate 80% lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to traditional plastics. So, both the manufacturing process and the end-of-life process are more environmentally friendly than those of OPP plastics.
It is not a perfect solution. Not all councils collect household organic waste. The bags are not certified for home composting as it can take 12 months or more for them to break down in non-industrial conditions. They do not break down in landfill and need to be recycled separate from other types of plastic. The shelf life is also estimated shorter than OPP plastic. They are significantly more expensive than OPP bags, and we refuse to pass that extra cost on to our hard-working retail customers. We are aware that some retailers will still prefer naked cards, while others may have concerns about the shorter shelf life of the PLA plastic. We can’t please everyone, but with this decision we feel we have done the best we can for all of us, and for the planet.
Please note that we will be using up all our stock already packed in the old bags, so customers are likely to receive a mix when placing an order over the next 6-12 months. All new print runs will however be packed in the new bags. You can recognise these as the bags have the official certified compostable ‘seedling’ logo (see image above) at the back. Perhaps in time there may be a greater shift towards naked cards, and more retailers will feel comfortable with selling cards unwrapped. In the meantime, we are pleased to have made this important change and hope that while it won’t be a perfect solution for everyone, it can be good enough for now.
If you want to learn more, here is a short youtube video on how NATIVIA® bread bags are made. The process is the same for our greeting card bags.
Thank you for taking your time to read this. If you have any questions, please get in touch.
With best wishes,
Laura and Kicki