Show Notes

Download episode MP3

Plastic is a huge issue, particularly when it comes to single use plastics. Our oceans and landfill sites are full of plastic and it wreaks havoc on the environment and wildlife. Surprisingly, plastic was invented as a solution to another terrible problem. It’s funny how that works, isn’t it?

Tune in to this episode of Good Foodies to discover a compostable, flexible packaging which is plastic free and has the potential to revolutionise the industry without the need for massive changes to consumer behaviour. If you need all sorts of packaging and business support solutions for your food startup, you’ll definitely want to keep listening for our resource of the week too.

In this episode you’ll learn

  • The sheer scale of how much plastic is used in food packaging
  • The surprising story of how the plastic problem started
  • The difference between compostable, biodegradable and recyclable packaging
  • How to create packaging that’s as close to nature as possible
  • Why most flexible, compostable packaging has not worked over the last 20 years
  • The correlation between good, healthy food and sustainable packaging
  • The importance of transparency in modern business

Notes and Links

TIPA compostable packaging
Good Foodies episode #007 with Snact, discussing compostable packaging
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow – Snact Are Leading the Way in Compostable Packaging
What is a packaging converter?
What is a MOQ?

Resource of the Week

The Food Hub Directory – a directory of word-of-mouth recommendations for all sorts of suppliers and support services. They have a whole load of listings to help find people, products or services across business, product and selling. There’s lots of packaging resources there so we thought it would be a good fit for this episode.

Episode Transcript

Guy: [00:00:01] Plastic is a huge issue and particularly when it comes to single-use plastics. And our guest today is Avishag Seligman from TIPA. They make a compostable flexible packaging that has the potential to revolutionize the industry. We’ll also have our lessons learned and our resource of the week so stay tuned.

Guy: [00:00:33] Hello and welcome to the show. My name is Guy Routledge from Sapling Digital and Eco & Beyond. And we’ve got Kylie Ackers in the studio again today. Hello Kylie, welcome back.

Kylie: [00:00:42] Hello.

Guy: [00:00:43] Hello hello. Today we’re talking about a hot topic. We’re talking about plastic.

Kylie: [00:00:49] Or more accurately, no plastic.

Guy: [00:00:52] Or more accurately, no plastic. But we’re going to kind of set the scene and start off by talking about plastic and the problem with plastic. It’s a real big issue and it’s a particular kind of bugbear of yours, isn’t it?

Kylie: [00:01:02] Yeah there’s just plastic everywhere and I wish there wasn’t. And it’s really hard to eliminate plastic from your life when you kind of really start to think about it and try to replace everything that comes in plastic even your lunch if if you’re in the office in the city and you need to go and get something to eat. It’s really difficult to find anything. Take away style that doesn’t have some element of plastic in it.

Guy: [00:01:26] Yeah, definitely. And it’s one of those things like, it’s great at keeping things clean and looking nice. There’s a lot of cosmetic benefits to it and it’s cheap. So when you’ve got so much food being produced on a daily basis, I guess at some point in history, everyone thought, oh yeah this makes a lot of sense. But now it’s a really big issue.

Kylie: [00:01:45] Yeah. From a food safety standard it’s also really good to keep things fresh. And as you say clean and away from germs and whatever. But the downside is that it’s having a massive impact on our environment.

Guy: [00:01:56] Yeah absolutely and we’ll hear a little bit about that in our interview today with Avishag from TIPA. But what are some of the things that we’ve been doing to reduce plastic? And some of the things that we talk about on Eco & Beyond of course.

Kylie: [00:02:07] So we’ve definitely cut out our plastic bag usage, so we don’t have any of our groceries with plastic bags any more. We also get our fruit and vegetable delivered by Oddbox so that comes without any packaging. Most of that.

Guy: [00:02:20] Yeah it’s great, isn’t it? You open it up and everything is just kind of there, loose, and scattered around and it’s got really organic feel to it.

Kylie: [00:02:27] And then also I think one of the big things I’m currently concentrating on which is a real minefield is bathroom products. So shampoos and conditioners and soaps and deodorants – they all come in plastic.

Guy: [00:02:38] Yeah.

Kylie: [00:02:39] And there’s actually not a lot of alternatives out there so I’m having a real struggle with that at the moment. The one I’m really struggling most with the shampoo and conditioner. So while there are alternatives out there you go to a zero waste place and a zero waste place and fill up containers that you take with you, they only have one style. So if your favourite shampoo is from one particular brand unfortunately that’s just not coming in a plastic-free alternative.

Guy: [00:03:08] Mm hmm.

Kylie: [00:03:08] So you’ve got to go and try the shampoo and conditioner from your local zero waste store which they’re not that local. And if you don’t like it if your hair doesn’t like it or agree with it you’ve got to go find something else. So there’s also the waste component that comes there if you buy something it doesn’t work out for you, you then kind of wasting that.

Guy: [00:03:29] Yeah I think minefield really does sum it up quite nicely. And I guess the specific focus of the conversation that we’ll be having today is not about plastic in general but we’re talking about a specific type of plastic which is commonly used in food packaging and food products which is this flexible packaging. So we’re gonna talk to Avishag from TIPA. Find out all about that. But we’ll start off with how she got into this industry because it’s a little bit of an interesting story.

The Interview

Avishag: [00:04:00] Around my fourth year in architecture, I kind of realized that this is exactly what I wanted to do. I was studying and I was very fascinated about the ability of combining creativity but with practical and mechanical abilities. And I love that aspect but I wasn’t necessarily sure that the buildings was the part that interested me as I was uh, I was looking into other possibilities. I also realized that once you you’re able to combine the creativity with the mechanical abilities, that’s something that you can actually implement into every industry. And I think in other industries as well it can make you look at things differently and be able to innovate them and that’s kind of how I got into marketing.

Guy: [00:04:45] And I guess before you got into marketing for TIPA, and we’ll we’ll talk much more about what TIPA is and what you do in a second, but you’re also an entrepreneur in your own right, aren’t you?

Avishag: [00:04:55] Well yes I have a start-up in the food tech industry. We develop and produce low carb cakes and pastries. We even have some of our products patented.

Guy: [00:05:07] And I think it’s just always so fascinating in this industry where people come from such diverse backgrounds like you studied architecture, you now work in marketing but you also have your own food tech business and just doing so many interesting things, would be great to hear a little bit about that.

Avishag: [00:05:23] Yeah, sure. By the way I think almost half of the people that work at TIPA come from very different backgrounds. But this isn’t something that’s unique only for me and a part of our company culture. I think once you come from the different disciplines you have to be able to look at things in a different perspective and it helps the company move forward in a much faster pace. But in terms of what I did at 45, my brother was diagnosed with diabetes about five years ago and that’s how we started to look at food and how we can actually prevent diseases using food. Well I started the company with my mother and she came from just looking for a very different background she’s a scientist with a post doctorate from MIT and then biology as though we also started to look at how we can develop food in a very scientific way and make it look and taste exactly the same. Just to make it healthier and low carb which is actually very similar to what TIPA is doing well also imitating something that is already existing trying to keep our certain standard of living that we’re used to. But just making it more healthy for us, for the environment without all the damage that it could do.

Guy: [00:06:33] Yeah. That’s really interesting and I know I definitely picked up on that similarity between what you’ve done in the past and what you’re doing now with TIPA. And so TIPA, the organization, you make packaging, right? But your packaging is designed to be plastic-free and the whole plastic thing is, oh it’s a huge discussion at the moment and very much in the news. And I read an amazing blog post on the TIPA website recently about how this whole plastic thing started. And it’s a really amazing story and it be great if you could kind of give us the highlights but apparently it all started with elephants, is that right?

Avishag: [00:07:08] Yes surprisingly so. Well up until the 19th century billiard balls are made out of ivory at the time which was very harmful for the elephants because that actually meant that you had to kill elephants in order to create the ivory from their teeth. Well as the game became more popular especially in New York they realized that they’re killing a lot of animals for this game and a prize was offered was that ten thousand dollars which was a lot of money at that time. Anyone that can find an alternative the ivory and actually stop all this slaughter of elephants. The result was actually that the solution that they came for was the synthetic polymer which is the plastic that we know today. Yeah well actually it was designed to be a solution to a very big problem and must be a good solution for me to do good to the environment. And it ended up doing exactly that.

Guy: [00:08:00] Yeah it’s really crazy isn’t it. How there was a problem back in the day. And I think this kind of came from around about the 18-1869, 1870 kind of time so a long time ago and yeah the solution to the terrible problem of slaughtering animals to create something for a game, which is absurd if you ask me, started off as an amazing solution, is now this terrible problem. Can you speak a little bit to some of the facts and stats about plastic and some of the things that are very much in the news and on the minds of people these days?

Avishag: [00:08:33] Well I think that most people aren’t aware of the amount of plastic that we’re using. And this is an industry that is growing rapidly. I mean if we’re looking at even the products and you go into the supermarket and you look at the shelf almost everything is plastic. You barely see anything that’s sustainable or fully recyclable. And then synthesizing on the fully recyclable part because people are using these plastics and they don’t even know where it’s going to be because we just assume that we bring into the garbage can in the best case scenario we’re putting into the recycling van and then it ships off from there and we don’t really know what happens. And meanwhile there are piles and piles of plastic that are being piled up and these. This is a mature that isn’t going away for the next 500 years at least maybe even more this is just an assumption because as I mentioned this is a solution that only been around for about 200 years. Maybe that’s though we don’t really know how long it would take for these materials to decompose. It’s very disturbing to think about it.

Guy: [00:09:38] Yeah. Very much so. It’s something that I’ve read a number of times where people would say quote this number of years that it will take plastic to decompose. You’re absolutely right. We don’t even know that that’s true because it’s not been around that long yet. And so I don’t know if any of these original plastic billiard balls still exist but it would be fascinating to know if the very first plastics were still around somewhere. And I guess the answer is they are because this material is not something that just disappears when you put it into landfill or decomposes in any kind of way. But that’s exactly what you’re trying to create with the TIPA packaging. Can you tell us a little bit about what you guys do at TIPA?

Avishag: [00:10:16] Well we believe that we should look differently at the environment. We can’t just take resources from nature, from the environment, and not give back to the environment. Just expect that this material will somehow go away. So we’re trying to be as close as nature as possible and we often use the analogy of the orange peel because we think that packaging should be very organic just like you has the orange peel which you eat the orange and then you have the peel and eventually turns into soil and it brings back to the environment so exactly like that, all packaging should be the same. You shouldn’t have to eat material or use a material and then throw it away and not know what happens to it for the next five to 1000 years. That’s a bit of what we aspire to do. Another thing that we do at TIPA, because we have this holistic approach and we’re looking at it as something organic that has to be like the orange peel or like the nut peel or just like something that you find in nature. So that’s a bit also an indication of the process that we do at TIPA. I think we’re a very different company than most companies in the packaging industry because we look at each product as a unique product just like you have a banana peel that isn’t like a nut peel and it isn’t like other types of peelings. Each peel has its own properties for each product, for each material. So just like that also in packaging, we should have a look at what the product is. Understand how it works and how it’s designed and then the content that is inside and adjust the package so that it will be unique and will decompose in a timely manner.

Guy: [00:11:57] That’s really interesting. I was under the assumption that you had just like one kind of packaging film or one kind of density of material or something like that and it was almost like a one-size-fits-all approach but with different forms so packaging for box, packaging for pouches, packaging for different shapes and sizes. But you’re saying that it’s a different formulation in each case, is it?

Avishag: [00:12:20] Exactly. I think that the main innovation of TIPA. Because if you look in general, that composed of all materials and flexible packaging, I mean we didn’t invent compostable flexible packaging. It’s been around for a while now for almost 20 years but it hasn’t been effective in the packaging industry because to look at just replacing one material with another, you’re looking at it the same way as conventional plastic eventually you’re saying that one material is good for everything even though every product has different needs. That’s when you start understanding the limitation of each material and TIPA looks at it very differently. We understand that each product is different. We have never take for granted the materials that you’re using if you have a product that has a certain need that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is going to work in the second product. So we’re giving a complete solution. I think that’s a very unique in this industry.

Guy: [00:13:16] Yeah absolutely. How do you go about this? So what kinds of research or what kinds of testing are you doing to discover these different formulations? Sounds absolutely fascinating.

Avishag: [00:13:27] Well we have a very strong RND. We already have a couple types of films and laminates with different properties, different characteristics and we’re constantly working on innovating more product. I think one of the best approaches that we have is that when people approach us with a product, if this is something that we haven’t tried before we don’t just say no we can’t. We think about it. We start looking at what exactly is unique we evaluate what you’re using today and what is the chain of supply that you currently have. And then after that, we can see if this is something that we can develop this is something that we can produce as we aspire to constantly innovate and offer solutions that to a wide range of opportunities.

Guy: [00:14:13] And so what is the material made out of if it’s not made of plastic?

Avishag: [00:14:17] Well it’s made of a blend of a proprietary blend of fully-compostable polymers, some of it is a bio-based but not all of it, some of it is non-bio-based but fully-compostable polymers. We obviously don’t use any conventional plastics nano materials but we do make sure that it all, that it’s all fully compostable. I can’t specify a specific polymers that we use obviously.

Guy: [00:14:41] I think that’s fair enough. In terms of giving away all the secret..

Avishag: [00:14:45] But I also want to emphasize that it’s not just about the material, it’s not just, like you said it’s a formula it’s developing a new material from the existing material and it’s different for each application so also that is also part of the innovation and not just the materials themselves.

Guy: [00:15:02] To put it in perspective, I’ve got one of your packages in front of me at the moment. It’s actually from another one of the guests that we had on the podcast from Snact and they make this fruit jerky and I believe they’ve been working with you for quite a long time now and I’m holding it in my hands and it kind of looks like plastic pouch or like one of those foil pouches. It’s actually one of their older packets with their old branding on it. So I know that it’s been around for a long time so it’s not like it’s decomposing just sitting on my desk it just looks and feels exactly like the kind of stuff that would have traditionally be made out of plastic. But it’s made out of this compostable material. You wouldn’t even know it unless you read about it on the back.

Avishag: [00:15:41] That’s the point. And that’s also something that I told you before people are not going to change their standard of life if you’re used to a certain standard and you have the packaging in a certain way that can sustain the shelf life. You’re not going to move to something else unless it has the same level of standing because this especially if you’re looking at the packaging industry and you’re looking at good companies they have a need, they need the product to be on the shelf for a certain amount of time, they need the package to be on the shelf soon enough. I mean if you can offer that using a sustainable solution they will just go back to conventional plastic because they don’t have any option, though it’s very important to be as close as conventional plastic as possible in terms of properties while still maintaining fully-compostable properties.

Guy: [00:16:27] And I guess it also needs to be close or at least as close as it can be in terms of price as well because if this was 10 times the price of conventional packaging then people would probably not choose it too. So how does it compare in terms of the price?

Avishag: [00:16:42] Well we are more expensive naturally because this is an industry that is really in the early stages and as I mentioned before it’s very innovative and the materials are more expensive than technology and all the RND is more expensive. We can be twice or even three times as much for plastic. I do believe that in the near future this will become more and more mainstream, and as it becomes more mainstream and we produce it on larger scales and of course the cost will be reduced. But at the moment it is definitely more expensive than conventional plastic.

Guy: [00:17:16] Yeah. And I think that makes perfect sense in terms of the added cost especially when it is so early in its journey. And as you said I’m sure the price will only come down over time. One thing that I think is important to talk about is this is being billed as compostable packaging and we’ve heard a couple of times in previous episodes in the podcast about the different types of composting. So you’ve got your home compost and those industrial compost too. Does this have to be composted under certain kinds of conditions or is it something that you could literally just throw in the bin and it will decompose naturally.

Avishag: [00:17:49] The idea was to have it in composting condition. And this is also, if you’re treating in terms of ideology, I think like we have treatment of waste today, and we have the devastating treatment where you have people going and putting things into landfills. There is no reason why we shouldn’t treat our organic waste. We should have an infrastructure for composting that in terms of what the ideal solution would be. I think this should definitely turn into quality soil. That would be given back to agriculture from there to prospect. It can also be thrown into a regular garbage bin. You also need to remember that even organic waste, natural organic waste if you look at the, at the food that you’re eating, the scraps of food, it will also decompose in the condition that it’s in. And it means that sometimes if you put it in just the garbage bin it will take also a certain amount of time until the what because they won’t necessarily decompose in the most optimal way regardless of our packaging. If we say that our package is like organic waste whatever you do with your organic waste that’s what should happen with our packaging as well. But definitely the idea should be inside a compost either or a whole compost or an industrial compost.

Guy: [00:19:06] Sure. And then you’re getting all the benefits of that going back into the ground as you’ve talked about which sounds like a good plan. In terms of this new material, what are some of the special considerations that people might need to be aware of if if we’ve got any people listening who like the sound of taking this leap into using a more sustainable kind of packaging. Are there any kind of limitations or anything that people should be aware of.

Avishag: [00:19:29] Well there are certain technical limitations as I told you we are constantly innovating and creating options for more opportunities but we aren’t able to offer it to everything and everywhere as though I think that the products that are easier to pack at the moment are more dry food and frozen food. We are also looking into liquid the things that are more moist and these are things that we’re already testing in there that are in the process for RND. Will hopefully be available in the near future. At this time we’re constantly innovating and creating more opportunities though it’s very important to evaluate the type of food that you have, it’s also important to remember for companies that are might be interested in this product that this is a product with a shelf life. Even though as we mentioned it’s very shelf stable does have a shelf life of six months. We do have companies that are using it for shelf life for products that have a shelf life of a year but I wouldn’t advise using it for more than that whereas you have people that are using commercial plastics for a lot of years and they can have in their storage room piles of packaging just waiting for them. It’s more complicated with the compostable packaging.

Guy: [00:20:40] Yeah I think that makes perfect sense. On one hand it sounds very efficient to have things stacked up in a warehouse for months or years but on the other hand as a consumer of a product I don’t really like the idea of drinking something or eating something that’s been sitting in its packet for one or two years before it’s even if it is still completely safe. It just doesn’t sound like it should be something we’re putting in our bodies, right?

Avishag: [00:21:05] I’m gonna say something that is the kind of the not so beautiful truth just because I also came from the food industry itself. I think most people don’t know exactly what they’re putting into their mouth when they’re eating. I think most food has been sitting on the shelf for quite some time especially if you’re looking at things that are industrial foods then those are something that might be sitting on the shelf for a very long time. But definitely I agree with you I think we should be you should aspire to eat things as fresh as possible with as less chemicals as possible. I really hope that also the food industry will make that change because this change is not just about the packaging. It’s also about the food itself and the way we look at food and the entire chain of supply until it reaches our table.

Guy: [00:21:53] Yeah and it’s absolutely something that is seems to be changing at the moment but it’s still a very complex industry. There’s many moving parts to it. Something we talk about here all the time but I guess you must have the opportunity to work with brands and businesses who are more aware of these things and are more invested in creating positive change because if they weren’t they probably wouldn’t be seeking out the compostable packaging company. Are you finding this with the people that you’re working with is that they are kind of equally committed to this good cause as you are?

Avishag: [00:22:27] Yes absolutely. Look there’s a huge correlation between awareness to to food and healthy food and also to have a sustainable package. That’s also why I also and then both industries and something that’s really important to me on a personal level to know that we’re eating something that’s healthy and will also be healthy for us and also for the environment. And I can also see that on the brands that are approaching us people who come forward from the healthier part of the industry from organic to low-carb and sugar-free, they have a more sense of urgency that they really want this package to be part of their company because this is truly something that they believe and feel that is the best thing to do. There’s definitely a correlation between the two.

Guy: [00:23:10] Which makes perfect sense I thing and it but it’s also great to see that the people who are trying to make food that’s better for us are also kind of mindful of making stuff that is better for the planet as well which is great and it kind of ticks all the boxes that we have over here which is good to see. And so for people listening if they want to get involved with using this kind of stuff or if they want to experiment with it what would the process be for them to get started with you guys?

Avishag: [00:23:37] Well we are currently working with companies that have an MOQ of twenty five thousand units at least because as I’ve mentioned we are a start-up and we’re, we’re growing and we’re trying to create personalized solution so each solution is a production in its own. And there’s still the challenge of producing on a small scale because we’re getting a lot of approaches from entrepreneurs and people who are starting a business and they have a lot of motive and they really want us to be part of what they do. But it’s very difficult to offer solutions on a very small scale at the moment. But other than that I think we’re always open to try to help. We’re always open to try to do some testing and see what the opportunities are. We have a large RND as well and we try to help when we can.

Guy: [00:24:26] Which is great to hear. And even though you’re based in Israel you work with companies all over the world, don’t you?

Avishag: [00:24:32] Yes I think our main market is actually in Europe. It’s not even in Israel just because there is much more awareness in Europe. Also our production is in Europe. There’s the larger infrastructure for industrial compost in Europe. We are also a little bit in the United States and we’re also looking a bit at the Asian market as well. But definitely we’re very global.

Guy: [00:24:54] If somebody was working with you and they go through that initial kind of development process with you to make sure that their product suits your packaging and vice versa, how does it work after that? Do you produce the packaging for them and send it to them? Or does the food company have to send the food product to you to be packaged? How does that work?

Avishag: [00:25:16] Well just like we provided a customized solutions of the packaging itself, we also provide a customized solutions for the chain of supply. We offer solutions for the entire chain. If you have your own manufacturer that creates that, your own converter that creates packaging then we can offer just the rolls of films for them to convert into packaging and we can also guide them how to use it and we can also offer ready-made solutions for brands that are looking just for a couple of standard pouches or zipper bags and so on. But it very much depends on a case-to-case basis and it also very much depends where they’re located around the world. For example if you’re a company that is located in a very far and remote place it might be more cost-worthy for them to just buy the materials or to just buy a certain type of packaging and do a couple of steps in-house. So there’s that. There’s no right or wrong in this. There’s just that trying to understand for each company what they need and see what’s the best solution for them.

Guy: [00:26:20] And in terms of the machinery that works with this new type of packaging are there any considerations on that sort of things or do you have to do lots of education to other parts of the industry to help them understand the way that this material behaves or the way that you can print onto it and things like that?

Avishag: [00:26:38] Our products are designed to for just any conventional plastic machinery. You don’t need special machinery for this. And in that aspect, it can really be adjustable to almost any converter. So this is something that can easily be implemented for companies that already have a chain of supply that is working. And then we just replace the materials themselves. There is a little bit of education to do in terms of what exactly all the components of the packaging are, how they should, be in order to be fully-compostable because it’s not just a matter of replacing just the rolls of films, it’s also the ink that needs to be composed and also the zippers that need any additional features that all also have to be compostable in order to make sure that the final product that you have is completely fully-compostable. I think that’s the education that we’re trying to implement and we have very specific guidelines of how to use our materials in order to make sure that the end result is compostable.

Guy: [00:27:39] So lots of small considerations to be aware of in terms of making the whole literally the whole package part of the fun to all work together. And so is that the kind of thing that you’re using your marketing for to aid in some of this education and communicating about some of these things, or is that much more something that you do at the supplier level or at the supply chain level?

Avishag: [00:28:00] Well we have a lot of different divisions in TIPA because as I mentioned we provide solutions for the entire chain of supply. Each part of the chain of supply has the different people within the company that are specializing in that aspect. So if you’re looking at the level of converters as we have people in our team that are very experienced in converting packaging. They come from the industry that was over 30 years of experience and so we had them also talking directly to converters and explaining all the technical aspects on the marketing level I think we’re focusing a lot of market education in general because I actually believe that this is something that has to come from the people this has to come from the demand not just necessarily from the industry itself but because the industry at the end of the day is very money-oriented. If this is uh cost-worthy, if there are deals on the table then they will make that change if there’s not a demand from the market. They won’t make that change. And so I think we’re working a lot of the unawareness and making sure that people are aware that this is a solution that is available that this is something that exists and it’s the best solution and the flexible packaging industry and following that I believe that the people and the brands that are going to demand that the thing that they consume or that the thing that they sell is fully-compostable and this is like a full cycle. They’ll eventually also go to their converters and request a specific package everything kind of effect one another.

Guy: [00:29:38] Yeah. And it’s definitely a growing trend that we see a lot because of the areas of the industry that we work in. But yeah I think you’re absolutely right. I think part of it is driven by at the business level saying we want to have this thing go throughout the entire brand and throughout the entire product line. And then sometimes it is also driven by the consumer as well. So must be quite a marketing challenge for you to be able to communicate at all those different levels of the spectrum into all those different types of people. Obviously such a such a valuable activity to undertake.

Avishag: [00:30:08] Yes absolutely. I actually love the challenge. I think when you have a such a challenge in marketing it makes much more interesting. Whereas when you have a product that is very straightforward and you know what to do then it’s less challenging for me personally.

Guy: [00:30:23] It definitely sounds like you liked that kind of challenge and yeah you’re absolutely right. It makes life a lot more interesting even if it doesn’t make it as plain sailing as it might be. But you know these big challenges make it all worth it really, don’t they?

Avishag: [00:30:37] Yes specially when you have such an amazing cause that you’re working on. Definitely worth it.

Guy: [00:30:42] Absolutely.

Avishag: [00:30:43] If we’re really able to make this change in the packaging industry that would be amazing. That’s our sense of uh, fulfillment.

Guy: [00:30:51] Well the thing that is amazing about it is that there are now these fairly approachable solutions like working with TIPA to do that. So you don’t have to necessarily go and solve the problem yourself from scratch. You can all you have to do is plug into the range of solutions that are popping up all the time. And from where we’re standing this is a perfect opportunity to do that and to plug into all of your you know rich amount of innovation and technology and RND. And just to round us off here, have you got any tips for food businesses who want to reduce their reliance on plastic and anything that you can give us in terms of some quick wins that people can start implementing in their business straight away?

Avishag: [00:31:30] Well I think you use the exact word reduce because as much as we’re offering compostable solution I think the idea first of all will be reduce consumption in general if you were able to reduce the use of plastic within the company, that would be such an amazing step because I think even for internal users we sometimes use so much material that we don’t necessarily need to use that single use plastic. Some of the things that we do even in terms of shipment and transportation can be even reusable or more sustainable they’ve been on that level of it you’re able to reduce. That’s amazing. And after that if you have a single use plastic that has the option be compostable then I would definitely offer to move to that direction because I also think it’s inevitable and eventually the entire market will do that because there’s just the amount of garbage that we’re even able to pile up we’re going to run out of space of garbage at the end. So I definitely think that people should start looking into compostable solution.

Guy: [00:32:36] Do you have any piece of advice for anybody perhaps speaking directly to the entrepreneurs as an entrepreneur yourself in terms of doing something with purpose in terms of innovating, what would be a parting piece of wisdom that you can leave our listeners with?

Avishag: [00:32:51] I think it’s very important to be transparent with your customers wherever you’re marketing especially as an entrepreneur. I think people today they have a lot of information at hand. I think the internet is full with so much information. You can’t just fool people today and tell them that something is going to change your life, or this is very tasty, or this is very good. It used to be the branding of the past, that used to be the way the people used to approach marketing. And today people are starting to actually think deeper. If you have a product that says sugar-free they’re actually looking into this, “Is this really sugar-free? Is this really healthy?” If you’re blaming something on your product, people are starting to look into it as though the whole thing is transparent and telling people the process that you’re doing as an entrepreneur is very important. And I think also consumers appreciate it a lot when you’re transparent with them and you share the information with them.

Guy: [00:33:55] That was Avishag Seligman from TIPA and you can find out more about them at tipa-corp.com, that’s TIPA hyphen C O R P dot com. Still to come today, our resource of the week. But up next, are lessons learned.

Lessons Learned

Kylie: [00:34:19] My biggest takeaway from that interview and one that I really believe is the sentiment that people the majority of people aren’t going to change their habits. So yes there’s a small number of people there’s a lot of people following this kind of zero waste and there’s a lot of environmentalists trying to change their behaviours and try and buy things with less plastic. But the reality is that mainstream people you know the day to day Joe Bloggs walking down the street they’re just not going to change their habits. It’s hard work to change habits. It takes effort, it takes the work in planning and people just don’t do that it’s you know they’re going to just go for the convenience thing or the thing that they’ve already done forever and businesses are going to step up and say OK so this is how consumers are and we need to design products that mean they don’t have to change their behaviours, right? They can still pick up the thing off the shelf they want and they didn’t even know that it’s not plastic any more.

Guy: [00:35:12] Yeah. So you’re saying that the onus is on the companies who want to do good and well hopefully as many of them as possible.

Kylie: [00:35:19] Not even necessarily the onus but just that the reality is there that the majority of people aren’t going to change the way that they shop. So if a company has a value that they don’t want to do bad by the environment then they’re going to have to face that reality and come up with you know inventive ways to change their product that the consumers continue to buy them and don’t even realize that they’re now being better for the environment.

Guy: [00:35:44] Yeah, I wonder how much of this sentiment which is a it’s a people sentiment rather than a business versus consumer sentiment, kind of goes through the business as well like so many businesses that are like, “Oh you know we’re struggling to make a profit, and you know I we just kind of do whatever we can quickly to get something out to market” and they aren’t willing to kind of put in that extra effort to find the solutions like TIPA are providing.

Kylie: [00:36:08] Yeah. Although they do that thing where they say, “Oh we’re going to do this” but then they really don’t do it. They just kind of do it half arsed and that’s kind a tick in the box, “We said we’re doing it”.

Guy: [00:36:16] Is that the green washing?

Kylie: [00:36:20] Yeah, exactly. We’re becoming more sustainable and then you actually look under the covers and you go, “Really guys? Come on”. But to counter that argument is also the other argument which is that change has to come through demand. And I do think to a degree that’s also true. So it’s that balance of the two to kind of sides one is you know the mass market not going to change their behaviour but then the other one is well businesses aren’t going to change until the demand is there.

Guy: [00:36:45] Yeah, it’s a bit of a chicken and egg type situation, isn’t it? Because one of the things I remember from that conversation with Avishag was that idea of using marketing as an educational tool to either raise awareness of the issues and to kind of spell it out in clear understandable language or as yeah not this kind of behaviour changing but yeah just kind of making people aware of the issue and then the problem and the solution.

Kylie: [00:37:08] Yeah. And I think that’s, I mean, all food businesses have that degree of responsibility to educate their consumers if you go even back to like help sugar thing, right? That took decades for people to really start understanding and even though it’s well known the behaviours still haven’t changed now people are still eating the Mars bars and the ice creams laden with sugar and they know that you know that’s going to lead to obesity and as you know Jamie Oliver’s been campaigning for years. So it’s it’s a well educated and well known fact but that doesn’t necessarily change all the behaviours but it’s also a huge opportunity because I think sometimes people struggle to come up with, “Oh what it what marketing campaigns are we going to do? or what are we going to post on social media? Or what are we going to write on our blog?”. And there’s so much education potential. I mean obviously it’s it’s through and through what we do day in and day out. So maybe that’s why we’re a bit more connected to it but yeah that opportunity to raise awareness and be helpful and educate people I think is such a massive marketing opportunity.

Kylie: [00:38:06] You know now is a really great time. There is this wave of people who are making a lot of noise, who want to support businesses who go for plastic-free or more environmental ways of doing business. And so I think if you have one of those businesses and you’ve got that opportunity in front of you really just take it because that movement is only going to get bigger. You know the whole blue planet thing has really opened their eyes but we’re just scratching the surface.

Guy: [00:38:32] It’s now starting to become a bit more of a mainstream conversation. Like you said earlier there’s most mainstream people are not going to change their behaviour. But it is changing slowly.

Kylie: [00:38:41] Yes.

Guy: [00:38:41] Which is very exciting.

Kylie: [00:38:42] It definitely is and so if you can just change your product a little bit so that the consumers don’t have to change their behaviour but that choice that they’re making is that made that a little bit easier. You know that they can pick up their packet of crisps or something off the shelf and know that that doesn’t have any plastic in it. It makes it so much easier for them to support your brand.

Guy: [00:39:01] One other thing that I thought was really interesting about this. I mean this is quite an innovative approach that TIPA are taking lots of RND and lots of experimentation and they’re trying to make sure that the packaging films that they create and all the other various bits and pieces are suited to the products that they’re putting in there. Really really interesting, wasn’t it?

Kylie: [00:39:22] She said something about the, you know, every product has different needs and I guess that’s the same like every problem has different needs. Every customer has different needs and so you should design a solution that’s fit for purpose. And I think that’s what she’s getting to is it that a crisp packet is very different to a coffee cup for example. That’s like the plastic and so you have to have different solutions for different applications.

Guy: [00:39:44] Yeah it’s interesting. I was actually at an event recently and met I think he was a sales person for TIPA, so the event, it was a Food Bites event in London. Yeah, I was chatting to the guy from TIPA and there were a couple of other guys who came across picking up the films in the packets that were on the table and looking at them and they were from an ethical butcher company doing a big online thing and they were like, “We’ve got everything else ethical we know, everything else in our supply chain, but the one thing we’re struggling with is the packaging.” Apparently there’s some rules about you need to vacuum pack meat when it’s being posted out to people for food safety reasons and also stuff like that. And they were like, “We can’t find anything that is not plastic that can do meat.” And so I was able to kind of stand back and watch this conversation between really passionate business owners and the guy from TIPA. And he was like, “Well we’re experimenting with this stuff at the moment. We don’t have a solution as far as I know that is kind of off the shelf but we can work with you.” It’ll take a few weeks, a few months, a bit of research and development but they’re really out there trying to find these solutions for people with these problems as many and varied as they are.

Kylie: [00:40:56] Yeah, and I think more and more businesses as they start to look for these more sustainable more ethical better for the environment solutions. I think TIPA won’t be the only company that starts coming up with a slightly more innovative solutions that are fit for purpose across a range of applications because it’s what businesses want, and that’s what consumers want.

Guy: [00:41:14] Yeah, absolutely. Really really interesting stuff. Definitely the beginning of many things. I think there are other people doing similar but different things already. But certainly one to watch. Right let’s wrap this up and move on to our resource of the week.

Resource of the Week

Guy: [00:41:31] So our resource of the week this week is the Food Hub Directory. Now you might remember, long-time listeners of the podcast, on the very first episode which seems like months or even years ago now. It wasn’t but it feels like a long time ago. We had Jason Gibb from Bread and Jam also from Visit Planet Jason his new vegan brand on and he mentioned this in passing in that episode but we thought we’d highlight it here as a resource of the week. It’s a directory of service providers and product creators who serve the food industry and the really interesting thing about it is that it’s a word of mouth directory.

Kylie: [00:42:11] I was going to say where do you find it? Where is it?

Guy: [00:42:13] So the directory is online you can literally find it at the foodhub.co and yeah it’s this word of mouth directory from recommendations that have been posted in the Food Hub which is the Jason’s Facebook group and yet it’s like a curation of people who are doing all sorts of things to serve the food industry.

Kylie: [00:42:32] Okay, so give me some examples of businesses that are listed in there that you know of.

Guy: [00:42:36] Uh, so we’re listed in there.

Kylie: [00:42:38] Oh, right. Okay maybe another one.

Guy: [00:42:40] Maybe another one. It kind of breaks down into three different categories. So you’ve got a category of service providers. So things like accountants and lawyers and..

Kylie: [00:42:50] Social media consultant.

Guy: [00:42:52] There’s another category for people to help with marketing and sales so things like social media and copy writing and web design and packaging design and branding and all that kind of stuff. And but then there’s a third category which is things to help you make your product. And so there’s a whole load of packaging resources in there. You see. And this is where it all becomes relevant.

Kylie: [00:43:12] Yes.

Guy: [00:43:13] There you go. There’s listings for people who sell glass jars and labels and all sorts of different kinds of packaging films, I imagine, I haven’t gone through every single listing in detail but you can do that if there is something that you need to support you in either running your business, creating your products, or selling your product, then it’s a great resource.

Kylie: [00:43:33] And I guess too if something is not there and you’re looking for it then you just post question at Food Hub, and then you can go and add it, right?

Guy: [00:43:39] Yeah absolutely. The thing that I love about this industry and this kind of close knit group of kind of start-up founders and people who are working or you know ambitious growing companies is everybody is kind of working some of it out as they go to greater or lesser extent. And everyone’s really super helpful which is brilliant it’s a really kind of good community feel. So if you like the sound of that if you’re looking for some help and support and need some bits and pieces to work on your business, then head to the foodhub.co and have a hunt around. So I think that’s all we’ve got time for today. Kylie, anything else to add?

Kylie: [00:44:16] Nope. I’m good for today.

Guy: [00:44:17] Good for today? Cool. So we will see you next week. Thanks so much for joining us today. We really appreciate it as always. And if you’re enjoying the show, if you believe in the work that our guests are doing, then please do share it. Share it with your friends, your colleagues, your family, your pets, I don’t know, anybody. We’re really excited about what we’re doing here and we’re really excited about what all of the guests are doing so we really want to spread the word a bit more. One way in particular you can help out is by leaving a review. So just head to goodfoodies.co.uk/itunes and that will take you over there. You can hit the stars and leave us a nice comment and we’d really appreciate that too. Thank you for joining us. We’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.

Kylie: [00:44:59] I know.