The three R’s are a natural fit. We need to find the carbon footprint of what we are doing. This is the question where sustainability comes in, what is the environmental impact? Today’s market place; the millennials and the generation coming after, choose products based on their impact on the ecosystem. People purchasing today are using different parameters, whether you like it or not. “If you can identity and differentiate, your product from the guy next to you , as environmentally safe and ethically grown as well as meeting all other requirements for sustainability, then you’ll have a better leg to stand on,” Parit emphasized.
A lot of Carbon emissions is packaged per every kilo of flowers every year. This is where Kenya should put efforts to differentiate products and make them more competitive.
How reduction Affects packaging In packaging you can use paper without compromising the mechanical properties/static properties/marketing requirements of your product. For instance; in 2011 Silpack introduced the SoliQ airfreight box. This box saves 250gms on airfreight thus the total cost of ownership of using a SoliQ box is USD 0.30 less than using a conventional box to do the same job.
The amount of polymers it takes for one to take a product from Nairobi to some other destination will be reduced and we could be more competitive than other nations. (some countries ask you to imprint how many carbon miles a particular product is flown) “We converted one particular product using 290grams to 255 grams of paper and the result was excellent, we saved 26 pallets, said Mr. Parit.
Reduction can also come through product development. This is practical through choice of paper. It has to be right. The design matters too. You can have the right paper but the wrong design and vice versa. Designs need to be sustainable, i.e. using less material to produce same cargo movement package. A correct design guarantees; Efficiency in supply chain, Less inventory (saving in the sustainability question), Less material, Carbon footprint saving and money saving.
It is very difficult to re-use boxes but through use of recovered plastic it is doable. Once these plastic boxes are in the environment you take it back in, you can make a plastic flower crate. The recovery process of plastics creates employment too.
When it comes to paper, you can re-use your cartons for storage especially the large boxes but not for shipping. You can also re-use the cartons if you are locally transporting. It should also be noted though, that paper is not likely to survive long time humidity and temperature change.
Sustainability cannot be interrogated by the ‘P’word, i.e. plastics. The only challenge is who’s going to take the step in using the right plastics? Paper on the other hand can be recycled about 5-7 times; eventually it reaches its wear and tear phase. On the contrary, plastic can be recycled for over 100 times though you’ll lose integrity at every recycling stage. It is possible through change of mindsets. This is like saving the environment 100 times. In terms of finance, plastic is winning.
The first mindset is; using brown paper instead of white because; brown paper is environmentally friendly whereas white paper is not –it uses chemical bleaching which is hazardous to the environment. Cello tapes and stapling pins have to be replaced with glue. There needs to be a change in conversation. There has to be collaboration in the supply chain for this to work.