Safety Stock podcast starring Dan and Will

Sustainability That Sells

Dan and Will talk about important women in their lives, the rise at the gas pump and some problems at the slopes.

Dan:
Oh yeah, nothing like checking out on Amazon with a few items left in stock. And we’re good, rolling into a great day, another round of Safety Stock. I’m Dan.

Dan:
Will, any surprise purchases that you’ve made this week?

Will:
Oh man, surprise things that I have bought? I can’t think… I mean, I wasn’t planning on getting Five Guys last night, but I did. So I’m going to say that counts?

Dan:
That works. I did the complete opposite here. I bought recently a super food green powder. It is horrible. I’m not going to reveal the brand just in case they ever want to sponsor us, but it is disgusting, real acquired taste.

Will:
Well, I applaud you for trying, number one, and those two things could not be more opposite. So at least we were in the same genre, that we were in food, so good for us.

Dan:
Yeah. Transitioning from a topic of greens juice to green energy, sustainability, Will, big topic for brands, retailers, manufacturers, logistics. You’ve been on the front line of really innovative green packaging. Where do you see the trends going and how should the market react to this push of sustainability?

Will:
I see the trend today as brands are trying to figure out what they want to actually go with, especially new brands. They’re trying to decide, “Where do I want to hang my hat? Do I want to make a product that can be recycled? Do I want to make a product of material that’s already been recycled? Or do I want to make a product that is biodegradable, sustainable,” and push it as far with the envelope as they can. And a lot of these factors are coming down to cost.

Will:
And so when I talk to these brands and say, “Okay, here’s where you’re making a decision, it can’t necessarily be just about the environmental aspect of it because you also have to have your brand identity, and there’s obviously a cost of goods in who you’re trying to compete against.”

Will:
So I would say specifically, number one, you can make a decision to use materials that can be recycled. And in this instance, that is where you’re going to see the most competitive pricing. Really, the two big recycle streams in the US are PET and HDPE. It’s the one and two recycle stream. In the other instance, people are using PCR materials, which is great, they’ve already been recycled, but they’re paying a premium. It can be anywhere from 20% to 50% on the resin and what they’re doing.

Will:
And so if you’re okay with that, good. Depending on what you’re marketing and what you’re selling and you can take that upcharge in your cost of goods, then this is an avenue for you.

Dan:
In terms of PCR, companies or retailers are starting to push that most of your packaging needs to be at least 50% PCR. Is the angle of PCR the right one that brands should be looking at, or is there alternatives like, “Hey, I’m using sugar cane resin. I’m using bio-based. I’m removing more of that virgin side to it.” How would you tell brands to approach that?

Will:
I would say it’s mostly about how you’re going to educate your consumer. Sugar cane’s a great example in that sugar cane resin is ultimately still ending up in the performance as going to be a HDPE-type resin. And so while it’s coming from sugar cane versus oil and most of the derivatives from that, you’re still ultimately getting a product that’s going to go into the stream.

Will:
It’s a good thing. Using sugar cane versus using predominantly oil is great. So you’re reducing something there, but you have to educate your consumer on that, because if you don’t and they take a look at it, well, they’re just going to see one and one and where it ends up going. It doesn’t matter.

Will:
You have a lot of people that look at things and say, “Okay, what’s the amount of energy that it takes to go in and produce this item?” So if it’s taking a lot of water, it’s taking a lot of electricity, it’s taking a lot of fuel to move it back and forth, they’ll look at that and say, “Well, it’s great that you made this nice product, but it costs the world X much to get it there.” And so you’re ultimately having to come up with a story with how you’re going to educate your consumers for them to truly take hold of what you’re trying to sell them.

Dan:
Yeah. And I think the approach we’re taking with the reducing the use of single-use plastics is a really great concept to eliminate some of that plastic waste. Like styrofoam, for example, is a great one, plastic bags is a great one. I’m an ice coffee drinker. So when you get a plastic cup, plastic lid, sometimes you can use that, but then you get a paper straw? I get it, plastic straws make up 0.025% of all plastic waste, but at that point, paper straws thaw out quickly. I like plastic straws, but the one area I would like to see manufacturers and maybe regulators look at is what plastics are not the best to be recycled.

Dan:
So number seven, starting there on the bottom of any container like your acrylics that look really nice, your ABS, which is recyclable, but takes a lot of waste and you can maybe substitute that for polypropylene, which is a little less rigid, polystyrene, which we’ve talked about earlier. Some of those plastics, you can start to maybe lessen. It will take time to get there because there’s not really great alternatives because, face it, beauty products that have acrylic, they sell really well and that’s a big perception shift that consumers will need to make because marketing and brand loyalty is really what matters.

Will:
Yeah. Specifically ABS is on its way out in Europe. And typically what Europe does, ultimately the US makes its way over as well, similar to how if it starts in California, it will a lot of times get pushed through to the US.

Will:
And so, yeah, people have to make a decision and brands have a touch decision, is what’s the cost point they’re trying to sell it at, what is the ethos they’re looking to manage, and once you go down that path, you kind of have to stick to it unless you have a major rebranding.

Will:
And so, overall, when you think about that as consumer, it’s not one easy decision, it’s typically a collection of decisions, and you have to embrace it. And so we’re seeing a lot of brands think about that as they both are new to the market or if they’re going through rebranding.

Will:
The cool thing about sustainability is that this was a great topic that one of our fellow colleagues brought to us and we’re open to talk about these different topics on Safety Stock. And so, if you have a topic, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach out to us at hello@anvyl.com, which is A-N-V-Y-L.com. Love to hear from you, get some topics, and we’ll continue to do it, and appreciate you being with us.