Sustainability at The Nature Masons: Crafting Beauty Responsibly
At The Nature Masons, we believe in beauty that goes beyond skin-deep. Our commitment to sustainability is woven into the very fabric of our brand, influencing every decision we make. However, this journey has not been an easy one. In order to do this we went through years of trying to find packaging that does not impact the planet negatively, was also compatible with the products we manufacture, had reasonable MOQ’s (‘minimum order quantities’, which is a massive challenge for small businesses)
First it was glass……..
Navigating the Challenges of Glass Packaging: Unveiling the Carbon Footprint Conundrum
In the world of packaging, glass has long been associated with premium quality and a sense of sophistication. It was what we started out with, our packaging of choice. But we quickly realised that it was clearly not the most ideal choice. There is a reason that a lot of people prefer lighter and less breakable packaging. It’s not the most convenient packaging for consumers either, a lot glass breaking in transit, in showers and bathrooms. Globally, as the spotlight intensified on environmental sustainability, the challenges of glass packaging became increasingly evident, especially when compared to alternative materials like plastic and aluminium. These were some challenges that we experienced as a small, bootstrapped, indie brand.
Glass production is notably energy-intensive, demanding a substantial amount of heat to melt raw materials like silica, soda ash, and limestone. This process contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions.
Statistics reveal that the carbon footprint of glass packaging, from manufacturing to transportation, is higher compared to plastic and aluminium.
Glass containers are heavier than their plastic and aluminium counterparts, leading to increased transportation costs and a subsequent rise in carbon emissions during shipping. Along with burdening the customer with a high shipping fee that most customers don’t like paying for. Then that burdens falls on small businesses to absorb that cost.
This weight discrepancy compounds the environmental impact, especially when considering the extensive global distribution networks of many products.
While glass is infinitely recyclable, the recycling process is energy-intensive. The collection and transportation of glass for recycling can offset the environmental benefits of reusing the material.
According to statistics, the recycling rates for glass vary widely across regions, highlighting the challenges in establishing a comprehensive and efficient glass recycling system.
Glass vs. Plastic:
On average, the carbon footprint of glass production is approximately four times higher than that of plastic. This significant difference underscores the environmental impact of choosing glass over plastic.
Glass vs. Aluminium:
When comparing glass to aluminium, the carbon footprint is relatively similar during production. However, aluminium’s advantage lies in its lightweight nature, significantly reducing transportation-related emissions.
Next it was Aluminium…..
Don’t get us wrong, we absolutely loved Aluminium packaging until we discovered that it was more expensive in some cases than even glass (unless we purchased massive MOQ’s which is literally pointless, wasteful, limiting and expensive). But this is India and if you look hard enough you do find smaller manufacturers that were willing to work with us in smaller quantities, however, the quality of the packaging was highly questionable.
Then we realised that since we live in Goa, the humidity here actually led to the oxidization of packaging in the warehouse. And on top of that, it reacted very badly with any water based products compromising the integrity and shelf life of the products. We had to do quite a few product replacements and lower our shelf life especially for our water based products, which did not work out for us at all.
What’s next then…
So now what? Do we go back to plastic? What else is there? So we started doing extensive research in alternative packaging in India and what is truly beneficial for the environment, without the layers of greenwashing that seemed to have fully embraced the world of sustainable packaging. We looked at different types of paper, seaweed, PLA, corn-starch, hemp, variations of glass, bio plastics, variations of different metal…. the list goes on. We looked for a good 2 years and it was an extremely long and mostly fruitless process. In the process we actually learned a lot about sustainable packaging and we discovered BIO D plastic enzymes, enzymes that when introduced to plastic (in the manufacturing stage), binds to the chemical bonds within the plastic polymer structures and acts as a catalyst to break down plastic. Let’s get into the details of how this works.
What is Bio D….. The science!
Understanding the BioD Enzymes:
The BioD enzymes represent a ground-breaking solution in the quest to mitigate the environmental impact of plastic waste. The process by which BioD enzymes work with plastic involves a sophisticated interplay of biological mechanisms, offering a promising avenue for transforming non-biodegradable plastics into eco-friendly alternatives.
Enzymatic Action Initiation:
The process begins with the introduction of BioD enzymes to the plastic material. These enzymes, derived from biological sources, act as catalysts for the breakdown of complex polymer structures. The enzymes specifically recognize and bind to the chemical bonds within the plastic polymer. This targeted binding is crucial for initiating the enzymatic action and ensuring a controlled breakdown.
Polymer Chain Cleavage:
Once bound, the BioD enzymes facilitate the chemical cleavage of the polymer chains in the plastic. This involves breaking down large, non-biodegradable molecules into smaller, more manageable fragments. Hydrolysis, a key enzymatic reaction, plays a central role in this stage. Water molecules are introduced, leading to the insertion of hydroxyl groups into the polymer chains, ultimately causing fragmentation.
The fragmented plastic undergoes further degradation through microbial intervention. Microorganisms in the environment, attracted by the altered chemical composition of the plastic, initiate a natural biodegradation process. Microbes metabolize the smaller plastic fragments, utilizing them as a carbon source for energy. This microbial digestion continues until the plastic is broken down into environmentally benign components.
End Products and Environmental Integration:
Biodegradation Completion: Through the concerted efforts of BioD enzymes and microbial action, the plastic is ultimately transformed into biodegradable by-products.The end products of the biodegradation process integrate seamlessly into the natural ecosystem without causing harm. These by-products serve as nutrients for microorganisms and plants, fostering a circular and sustainable environmental cycle.
Advantages of BioD Enzymes in Plastic Biodegradation:
BioD enzymes provide a targeted and controlled approach to plastic biodegradation, ensuring precision in breaking down specific chemical bonds. The use of BioD enzymes in plastic biodegradation contributes to a reduction in the environmental impact of plastic waste, offering a more sustainable alternative to traditional disposal methods.
Compliance with Regulations:
BioD's enzymatic process aligns with global and local regulations for plastic waste management, providing an eco-friendly solution that complies with established standards.
Why hasn’t this become popular fast?
Embracing BioD enzymes in the fight against plastic pollution has been gaining traction, but a major roadblock has been the limited awareness within the manufacturing chain. The challenge lies in convincing plastic manufacturers to incorporate these enzymes into their existing processes. The hurdle? Well, there's a fair bit of hesitation. Introducing new elements like BioD enzymes to established manufacturing practices requires a shift in mindset and a willingness to embrace change. It's like asking an old dog to learn new tricks – not everyone is on board just yet. And these processes take time. We've embarked on a journey across India, tirelessly seeking manufacturers willing to adopt this innovative approach in plastic production. As a result our packaging actually comes from different manufacturing units around India willing to work with us.
Despite these challenges, we remain hopeful that this approach can be a game-changer in the battle against plastic waste. Slowly but surely, we're making strides, convincing manufacturers that this is a step in the right direction. The world is waking up to the urgent need for more sustainable practices in handling plastic, and BioD enzymes offer a promising solution.
If you have stuck it out with us, as consumers till date, you will realise that we are a company that’s always growing and constantly willing to learn. Does this mean that we will evolve yet again and keep searching for even more sustainable options in the future? Of course we will. Is this the completely perfect option for us at the moment? We think it is for now. Is it the perfect solution? Not everything is perfect, we do know that this has its own issue of using plastic in the first place.
We don’t want to add to the issue of the existing plastic menace, however this is our way to reduce impact in the most sustainable way out there within our reach as a small business, while still be able to do what we do best which is, make good skin and haircare. We have attached all the necessary certifications, so that we are transparent with our processes. This is government approved, ISO certified and already used in the making of biodegradable bottles and other kinds of packaging in India for the last few years.
As the global community pushes for even more sustainable ways to address the plastic crisis, we're committed to overcoming these hurdles and contributing to a greener, healthier planet. It's a journey that requires patience and persistence, but we believe that with each manufacturer we convince, we're taking a step closer to making a significant impact. Together, let's pave the way for a more sustainable future as we navigate the challenges of revolutionizing the plastic manufacturing chain.