I remember the first product that I designed about 10 years ago. It was a wallet that had a touch ID. Back then, functionality was the main purpose of my product design. In 2020, we are looking at an enormous wave of sustainability. It is undeniable that many businesses are making their products more sustainable by changing materials for packaging.
Oxygenate made sustainable changes too. We looked at the plastic waste that derives from simple toothpaste tubes. Learning more about the complex life cycle of packaging, made me more skeptical of the 7 grams of kraft paper packaging we have been using and I felt an immense pressure to change the packaging of our Tooth Bites.
Lifecycle of Tooth Bites packaging
Since we are using 98% consumer waste paper, the energy consumption is much lower. However, the transportation was problematic. The packaging was transferred to 4 different facilities. Two facilities in Hong Kong and one in the United States and Canada. We could estimate the high carbon emission during transportation. To reduce the carbon footprint from sourcing our packaging, we decided to maintain our supply chain within North America. This change made a dramatic decrease in carbon emissions throughout our supply chain.
My team and I were also curious about what happens to Tooth Bites packaging after it is sold. What would our consumers do with the packaging? Many of our customers and clients would throw the packaging in the recycling bin. Collected recyclable materials have to be sorted and remade then sold to manufacturers. Not only does the recycling process causes a huge amount of energy loss, but it also costs cities a lot of money.
In fact, collecting and processing recycling items costs $18 per ton more than disposing regular garbage according to the Independent Budget Office of the City of New York. The high cost and lack of market, has already made some cities suspend collecting recyclables. Deltona, Florida suspended the recycling program as of Feb. 1, 2019. Bill Redman, a solid waste management system consultant in Deltona mentioned that removing recycling trucks in Deltona will reduce over 56,700 pounds in carbon dioxide emissions per month.
What if our customers do not have a recycling bin and throw our Tooth Bites packaging into the garbage bin? The Tooth Bites packaging will end up in a landfill, void of oxygen and will release methane (which is 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide).
We had to rethink our packaging. From 7 grams of kraft packaging to 2 grams of a dissolving pouch. I started to record me and my partner’s waste since January and found out, there is a way to reduce the cycle of post-consumer waste by switching to dissolving pouches. Our new packaging can be dissolved in water or composted. Our packagings material is FSC certified and is safe for humans and the environment as well.
If there is a lot more energy being lost when recycling, we could end the lifecycle of the packaging here in our bathroom. That is why we switched to dissolving packaging. We want to change the perception that packaging has to be recycled or reused to be sustainable. By cutting the lifecycle of packaging from within your bathroom, you can reduce significant pressure on your cities’ recycling program that deals with the post-consumer packaging. Our decision was made after reviewing the highly complex system that embodies the current recycling system. Oxygenate delivers functional and system-based solutions for our planet.