Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Further update on "Who Gives a Crap"


Last week, I reviewed the loo rolls by Who Gives A Crap and said that I'd also bought tissues and kitchen rolls. I was disappointed by the plastic strapping that bound the carton of tissues and carton of kitchen roll together, and also that there was a plastic film in the top of the box of tissues.

I contacted WGAC about it and this was their reply:
We use what's called oxo-biodegradable plastic on the top of our tissue boxes in order to keep them secure and dry. This oxo-bio plastic breaks down much faster and will degrade in the presence of oxygen and sunlight (depending on the local conditions, 12-24 months vs 1000 years for regular plastic!). You can even test it out in your yard! We know it's not the ultimate solution, however it's something that is slightly better when having to go a limited plastic route.

As for the strappings.... urgh!!
We avoid using plastic wherever we can, but when shipping multiple parcels we strap them together so that 1) we (and the customer) are only charged 1 shipping fee for the package, and 2) there's no risk of the packages becoming separated in transit and the driver having to make two deliveries to the same address for the one order (also not good from an environmental perspective).
We're researching more sustainable strapping materials-- and we *have* tested paper strapping, but it hasn't been strong enough, and just breaks in transit. We need something that works with commercial strapping machines so the options are limited, but it's a priority of ours that we are continuously searching for a solution.

Some suggestions: There may be dedicated recycling centres you can find that will take them off your hands or you can work your magic in upcycling them into something unique (heaps of ideas on Pinterest)!

I replied that I didn't see the need for any plastic in the tissues - other tissue makers have done away with using it and it just makes the tissues harder to get out of the box anyway. I wondered if the information about the plastic being oxo-biodegradable could be included on the box (it's currently not on the box, nor in any information about the tissues when you buy them. If you rummage around in their FAQ you can find it, but it's not on the first page of FAQs, you have to dig a bit). I'd really like to see them shift that information to the product listing at least, even if it doesn't make it onto the product itself. From other comments on their Facebook page, I'm not the only one who has gone "aagh!" at the plastic film!

I also said that there were no dedicated recycling centres near us for the strapping and that upcycling doesn't actually stop the plastic being a pollutant in the long run - the plastic will still be here for hundreds to thousands of years.

To be fair to them, they replied to say that they were actively seeking an alternative to the strapping and the use of sellotape/plastic sealing tape on their boxes and that they would give my feedback to the product development team about the plastic film on the tissues.

Does any of that mean that I will buy either the tissues or the kitchen roll again? I'm not sure. The kitchen rolls aren't especially good value, but I'm happy to pay the extra with the knowledge that 50% of the profits are donated to charity and the product has a smaller ecological footprint than using virgin wood.

With the tissues, although the plastic is ecologically more sound than I originally feared, I still see no need for it at all. And the plastic tape sealing the boxes and the plastic strapping binding boxes together is a no-no.

With all that in mind, there are other brands of recycled paper kitchen rolls and tissues available. I've been browsing The Ethical Superstore (well worth checking out!) and found a lot of great things, so more swaps may well be on their way.

What hints and tips about going plastic free can anyone share?


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