Poly bags are the ubiquitous packaging of the fashion industry – something that unites brands large and small. It is estimated that over 180 billion poly bags are produced to store, transport and protect garments, footwear and accessories every year, whilst less than 15% of these are collected for recycling. (Fashion For Good Industry White Paper 2019.)
For us at Riley Studio, our garments spend a large proportion of their lives being transported around. From factory to warehouse, warehouse to pop up, pop up back to the warehouse, they need to be protected. But the traditional plastic poly bags often rip after a single use, so the bag becomes redundant and often thrown away. This was something that didn’t sit well with us. Whilst we were doing our best to be as sustainable as we could, we were still using virgin plastic. And no matter how many times we tried to reuse the bags, there would always be some waste.
Since launching Riley Studio back in September 2019 we have always looked to use the most sustainable packaging options. From our recycled cardboard mailer boxes and recycled paper comp slips (written with a nice personal message) to our ‘We Are Human Kind’ sugarcane biodegradable stickers, we make sure our packaging has minimal impact on the environment and with no unnecessary marketing collateral. To learn more head to our Eco Innovation page.
Historically, we would store our garments in the poly bags until we received an order, where we would take it from its bag and wrap the garment beautifully in recycled tissue paper (acid free and made from 99% recycled pulp fibres). This bag would then be safely stored so it could be reused again in our cycle.
But we still had the poly bag in our supply chain and this was something we wanted to eradicate. So at the beginning of the year we started our journey towards a zero waste supply chain and removing plastic altogether. Whilst functionality was vital, we were keen to find a solution that had minimal impact in its production and a positive end of life disposal.
Through our extensive research we came across a company called Better Packaging who are leading the way in compostable packaging solutions. As a company their values and ethos were aligned with our own and their transparency was hugely appealing so we could understand exactly where and how their products were produced. Furthermore, as a business they offset the carbon footprint of their business operations by 120% so they are now Climate Positive.
Their range of compostable packaging solutions is extensive, and their comPOLY bags were the perfect solution for our supply chain - a certified home compostable bag made from 100% biodegradable and compostable materials.
What is so great about the comPOLY bags?
- They are made from corn starch, PLA (Polylactide, which is made from waste corn too and other plants) and PBAT (Polybutyrate Adipate Terephthalate). The corn used was once stored as feedstock in case of famine or national emergency and only once it is no longer fit for human consumption is it refined and the starches extracted. So we are using up potential waste, which we like!
- They feel and behave exactly like plastic but the impact on the environment is significantly less. They contain no toxins, use 65% less energy and generate 68% fewer greenhouse gases.
- They are tough, durable and tear resistant so we can continue to reuse them throughout the supply chain.
- The inks used are soy and water based as opposed to the traditional petroleum-based ink.
- They are home compostable and will break down in just 90 days leaving no trace.
How do you compost your bags?
Instead of taking the product out of the bag and putting it in tissue paper before sending to the customer, we can now leave it in the bag thus reducing further unnecessary packaging. Once you receive your Riley Studio products you can put your comPOLY bag into your compost or food waste bin. We know a lot of people may not have a garden and if you don’t have a food bin we recommend writing to your local council to ask for one!
The comPOLY bags have been certified AS 5810-2010 for Home Composting, meaning they will be completely degraded by microorganisms in the natural world under compost conditions and are suitable for worm farms and bokashi too.
Part of the appeal to switching to home compostable bags is that it allows us to educate ourselves and our community on food waste and home composting, and take us on a journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle. Almost 10 million tonnes worth of food is thrown away each year in the UK so by using these bags we can play our part in reducing both our plastic waste and food waste.
Amazingly, a single head of lettuce, if simply thrown away, can take up to 25 years to break down in landfill, so it is really important that you do what you can to separate out your food from the rest of your rubbish.
We have implemented these new bags for our latest Collection 04 and can now proudly say we have eliminated plastic from our supply chain.