Supplement company switches to biodegradable packaging

  • An equine supplement company is to cut down on its use of plastics by shipping its products in paper pouches that can completely biodegrade on a muck heap in four to six weeks.

    Hack Up is discontinuing its plastic tubs, and will now sell the bespoke supplements in 1kg heat-sealed wax paper bags, which are available with a retro-style tin pail for secure storage.

    “I thought selling supplements in a recyclable plastic pot was ethical, but when I looked into recycling further I discovered the majority of supplement pots require specialist recycling that isn’t done by local councils,” explained Jayne Gingell, who co-founded Hack Up with her husband Alex.

    “We ship four to five pallets a month, so I was devastated when I realised. The idea that the pots might be put into landfill or end up in the sea appalled us.”

    Jayne decided she wanted the company to eliminate plastics altogether and after a “blue sky meeting” — where the idea of an edible bag was initially put forward — it was decided to opt for the “waste free” biodegradable pouches.

    “I was using a retro Oxo tin at home and it gave me the idea to create a rodent-proof storage pail as well,” Jayne added. “Tin will disappear in 50 years, unlike plastics, but it will also be useful for years. Fortunately the supplier of our packaging also happened to be the one of the biggest suppliers of tins for paints and liquids, so they were able to make some for us.”

    Jayne said that the company had also been able to absorb the costs of the packaging switch, so the move to biodegradeable pouches — which have an oxidising accelerator in the lining, meaning they degrade faster than paper — would not be passed on to customers.

    “We’ve also teamed up with a new carrier which is launching biodegradeable plastic bags, which helped with the costs,” she said.

    Hack Up sells its products directly to customers across its web platform and they are tailor-made for each individual horse.

    “Right from the start we were conscious that if we delivered directly to the consumer, we massively reduced product miles and would be greener,” Jayne said. “It also enables us to nurture our relationships with our customers.

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    “I think in times of recession people want to go back to more natural ways of doing things,” she added.

    Hack Up offers a “buy and book” system where fresh supplies of supplements are automatically delivered when the customer’s supplies start to run low. Customers on this scheme can currently get a free tin pail with their order, while other customers can use loyalty points to “buy” one.

    The amount of plastic waste generated annually in the UK is estimated to be around 5million tonnes, with the typical family throwing away 40kg a year. Around 75% of this is thought to be sent to landfill, where it can take up to 500 years to decompose.

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