Eco-cleaning and body care business ecostore has converted its petrochemical plastic packaging into plant-based plastics, with the roll out of its ‘Carbon Capture™’ packaging, made from sugarcane.
“Plastic pollution is one of the world’s greatest problems and for some time I have been searching for alternatives for ecostore. Finding a better alternative to plastic packaging has been a priority and now with sugarcane-based, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) from Brazil becoming available to ecostore, we are able to manufacture plastic bottles made from sugarcane,” says Malcolm Rands, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ecostore.
“As sugarcane grows it captures CO2 from the atmosphere, which is then stored inthe plastic. This natural process actually reduces atmospheric carbon, which can help to reduce our carbon footprint,” he says.
The CO2 captured during the sugarcane cultivation process remains stored during the plastic’s entire life cycle, as long as it is not incinerated.
The incentive for ecostore to convert to sugarcane-based HPDE stems from the fact that New Zealand increased its total greenhouse gas emissions by 111.41% between 1990 and 2012, according to a recent UN report.
“New Zealand is now ranked 43rd out of 44 countries for the largest increase in greenhouse gas emissions: it’s a disgrace particularly when many countries are decreasing their emissions,” Malcom says.
Every kilogram of Carbon Capture™ plastic produced captures and stores two kilograms of CO2 from the atmosphere. Every kilogram of petrochemical plastic produced causes just under two kilograms of CO2.
“If we look at ecostore’s current production as a whole, we will save 639 tonnes of CO2 each year compared to using the traditional petrochemical plastic. That’s the equivalent of 123,000 daily commutes,” Malcolm says.
Plant based plastics can be a bane for recycling businesses, as they cannot be recycled with petrochemical based products. Sugarcane-based HDPE bottles have the same characteristics as petrochemical based products, which means they can be recycled together. ecostore worked with Visy Recycle Centre NZ to ensure that the bottles can be correctly recycled through the Auckland council recycling system.
The new ecostore Carbon Capture™ Paks are already appearing on supermarket and health store shelves with ‘Carbon Capture™’ embossed on the base. Rands says this move currently excludes polypropylene caps, bulk stock bottles and lip balms.
“It’s just a matter of time before the technology evolves and we will be able to manufacture 100% of our products in sugarcane-based HDPE. Right now, 98% of our bottled product is converting to sugarcane-based HDPE. No other company in the world has made a commitment like this,” Malcolm says.
ecostore is a longlisted candidate in the Mega Efficiency Innovation category in the 2014 NZI National Sustainable Business Network Awards.